Lincoln Aviator

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Lincoln Aviator
Manufacturer Lincoln (Ford)
Production 2002–2005
Model years 2003–2005
Assembly Hazelwood, Missouri, United States
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size luxury SUV
Body style 5-door SUV
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive / all-wheel drive
Platform Ford U1 platform
Related Ford Explorer
Ford Sport Trac
Mercury Mountaineer
Engine 4.6 L DOHC Modular V8
Transmission 5-speed 5R55S overdrive automatic
Wheelbase 113.7 in (2,888 mm)
Length 193.3 in (4,910 mm)
Width 73.9 in (1,877 mm)
Height 71.9 in (1,826 mm)
Successor Lincoln MKX (officially)
Lincoln MKT (full-size, seven-passenger CUV)
Mercury Mountaineer third generation (luxury version of the Ford Explorer)

The Lincoln Aviator is a mid-size luxury sport-utility vehicle (SUV) that was sold by the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company from model years 2003 to 2005 in North America. A rebadged variant of the Mercury Mountaineer and Ford Explorer four-door SUVs, the Aviator was the shortest Lincoln vehicle ever sold (at its debut).

Due to lower than expected sales, the Lincoln Aviator was discontinued following the 2005 model year, with many of its features integrated into 2006 redesign of the Mercury Mountaineer (and later the Ford Explorer). In the Lincoln model lineup, two crossover SUVs were introduced in the later 2000s: the five-passenger Lincoln MKX (initially intended to wear the Aviator nameplate) and the six/seven-passenger Lincoln MKT (slotted slightly below the Lincoln Navigator in size).

Along with the Blackwood and Mark LT pickup trucks, the Aviator is one of the shortest-produced Lincoln vehicles. For its entire production, the Lincoln Aviator was assembled at St. Louis Assembly in Hazelwood, Missouri, alongside the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer.

Model history[edit]

Lincoln Aviator, rear 3/4 view

To differentiate it from the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer, with which it shared nearly all exterior body panels, the Lincoln Aviator was given its own grille, headlights, taillights, and tailgate. Additionally, the Aviator was equipped with model-specific running boards and sideview mirrors. On the interior, the styling was derived heavily from the redesigned 2003 Lincoln Navigator; the rectangular dashboard was styled similar to Lincolns of the 1960s, featuring an instrument cluster with electroluminescent gauges and needles. The only major change between the Navigator and Aviator was the lettering on the radio cover panel; the panel on the latter was changed to spell out "AVIATOR" instead of "LINCOLN". Aviators were given model-specific seats with upscale leather and American walnut wood trim on the doors and steering wheel. In contrast to the Explorer and Mountaineer, bucket seats with a center console were standard in the second row (a bench seat configuration was available as a no-cost option).

The Lincoln Aviator was available in a rear-wheel drive (RWD) configuration with all-wheel drive (AWD) as an option. Aside from all-wheel drive, relatively few options were available, including heated/cooled seats, and HID xenon headlamps. The Aviator featured dual front and side airbags, side-curtain airbags, stability control, and traction control (AdvanceTrac on AWD models).


For 2003, the Aviator was available in Luxury and Premium trim levels. All model years were standard with RWD or optional AWD.

Kitty Hawk Special Edition[edit]

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and the 100th anniversary of Ford Motor Company, Lincoln created a "Kitty Hawk" limited edition of the Aviator; it was the official vehicle of the 2003 EAA Countdown to Kitty Hawk. Along with special Kitty Hawk badging and trim, the limited-edition vehicles were fitted with special wood trim which is mink zebrano, argent painted and chrome grille, and a rear spoiler, chrome exhaust tip, chrome wheels, xenon (HID) headlamps, black premium leather heated/cooled seats with Kitty Hawk logo embossed on front seat backs, black carpet floor mats with stitched Kitty Hawk logo, available only in black exterior color.[1]


For 2004, the Premium trim was renamed Ultimate, in line with other Lincoln models.


For 2005, a single Luxury trim was available. With the consolidation of trim levels, standard features on the 2003 Premium or 2004 Ultimate were available as stand-alone options on the Luxury model for 2005. For 2005, one could get the elite package on all 2005 RWD or AWD Aviators that bundled all of the standard features of the 2003 Premium or the 2004 Ultimate. Rear DVD player was optional on all models, as well as a DVD-based navigation was optional on all 2003 Premium and 2004 Ultimate trim levels. The navigation was only available with the new elite package on the 2005 model year. A standard towing package was fitted to all AWD Aviators with a heavy-duty towing package optional on either RWD or AWD models.

Marketing and reception[edit]

Lincoln played up the similarity to the Navigator full-size SUV with magazine ads that read, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Especially when it's yourself you're imitating." The Aviator seemed to have been met with relatively positive press coverage.[2]

While the Aviator's styling borrowed cues from its big brother, the Navigator, it also looked similar to the very widespread Ford Explorer with which it shared the platform. Also working against the Aviator was it was priced similar to the larger and relatively popular Expedition, though the Ford SUV was marketed to the middle class, while the Lincoln was marketed to the upper middle class. Car and Driver magazine said in a comparison test, in which the Aviator tied for fifth place, that only the car's high price and lack of certain features and no low range with the AWD model held it out of contention for the top spots.[3]


In place of the SOHC 2-valve version of the 4.6L V8 shared with the Explorer/Mountaineer and other Ford trucks, the Aviator was fitted with the DOHC 4-valve version of the engine, shared with the Ford Mustang Mach 1 and Mercury Marauder.

Producing 302 hp (225 kW) and 300 pound-feet (407 N·m) of torque, the DOHC V8 in the Aviator came with two more horsepower than the 5.4L V8 in the Lincoln Navigator (though with 55 lb-ft less of torque). As with the Explorer/Mountaineer, rear-wheel drive was standard, with Lincoln offering all-wheel drive as an option; all versions were equipped with a five-speed 5R55E overdrive automatic transmission.

Fuel economy[edit]

The Lincoln Aviator was rated to get 13 City/18 Hwy for RWD models and 12 City/17 Hwy for AWD. The Lincoln Aviator had a 22.5-gallon tank to support its 4.6L V8 and had a range of 247–460 miles on a tank depending on mpg of the drivers driving habits. The Lincoln Aviator also requires premium fuel (91+ octane).


The Aviator was scheduled for cancellation after the 2005 model year and the last Aviator was manufactured on August 19, 2005.

Ford intended for the Lincoln Aviator to skip the 2006 model year and reappear as an early 2007 model based on the CD3 platform, a concept vehicle previewing this model appeared at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show. However, as Lincoln revised its branding, all future Lincoln vehicles (aside from the Navigator and Town Car) were branded with an MK nomenclature. The Aviator name was dropped; its successor was the Lincoln MKX, a crossover-utility vehicle based on the Ford Edge. A five-passenger unibody vehicle powered by a V6 engine, the MKX is a different vehicle type than the body-on-frame, V8-powered Aviator.

Possible return[edit]

A new mid-size SUV, known internally as "Aviator", is set to replace the slow selling Lincoln MKT in 2019 as Lincoln's version of the next generation Ford Explorer.[citation needed] It is expected to use Ford's new modular C6 rear-wheel-drive platform. The production car could also revive the Aviator nameplate, marking the phaseout of Lincoln's "MK-" alphanumeric nomenclature, although Lincoln declined to comment on this.[4]


Calendar Year American sales
2002[5] 1,856
2003 29,517
2004[6] 23,644
2005 15,873
2006[7] 1,711


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Lincoln's derailed gravy train hitches to another car." Car and Driver, December 2002.
  3. ^ "The Bradsher Bunch", Car and Driver, January 2003.
  4. ^ Vijayenthiran, Viknesh (2015-06-05). "Lincoln To Replace MKT With New Aviator Based On Next-Gen Ford Explorer?". Motor Authority. Retrieved 2016-01-30. 
  5. ^ "Ford's F-Series Truck Caps 22nd Year in a Row as America's Best-Selling Vehicle With a December Sales Record". 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  6. ^ "Ford Achieves First Car Sales Increase Since 1999". 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  7. ^ "Ford Motor Company 2007 sales". January 3, 2008. Archived from the original on February 12, 2009. 

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