Lincoln Aviator

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Lincoln Aviator
Lincoln Aviator.jpg
Manufacturer Lincoln (Ford)
  • 2002–2005
  • 2019 (to commence)
Model years
  • 2003–2005
  • 2019
Body and chassis
Body style 5-door SUV

The Lincoln Aviator is an automobile that was sold by Lincoln, a division of Ford Motor Company from 2002 to 2005. A mid-size luxury SUV, the Aviator was a rebadged variant of the second generation Mercury Mountaineer (itself based on the Ford Explorer). Slotted between the Mountaineer and the Navigator, at the time of its debut, the Aviator was the shortest vehicle ever sold by the Lincoln division.

Following lower than expected sales, the Aviator discontinued after the 2005 model year; several of its features were integrated into the 2006 redesign of the Mountaineer. As Lincoln expanded its use of crossover SUVs, the 2007 five-passenger MKX (initially intended to wear the Aviator nameplate) was offered with a similar exterior footprint, with the 2009 MKT offering six/seven-passenger seating (slotted slightly below the Navigator in size).

In March 2018, Lincoln unveiled the prototype for the second generation Aviator, intended to enter production in 2019.[2] Sharing the platform with the sixth generation Explorer, the second generation Aviator is now a three-row luxury crossover SUV.

For its entire production run, the 2003–2005 Aviator was assembled at St. Louis Assembly in Hazelwood, Missouri, alongside the Explorer and Mountaineer. Produced for only three model years, the Aviator is among the shortest-produced Lincoln vehicles, alongside the Blackwood and Mark LT pickup trucks.

First generation (UN152; 2003–2005)[edit]

First generation (UN152)
Lincoln Aviator.JPG
2003 Lincoln Aviator (US)
Production 2002–2005
Model years 2003–2005
Assembly United States: Hazelwood, Missouri (St. Louis Assembly)
Body and chassis
Platform Ford U1 platform
Engine 4.6 L Modular V8 (gasoline)
Power output 225 kW (302 hp; 306 PS)
Transmission 5-speed 5R55E overdrive automatic
Wheelbase 2,888 mm (113.7 in)
Length 4,910 mm (193.3 in)
Width 1,877 mm (73.9 in)
Height 1,826 mm (71.9 in)

The Aviator was launched for 2003 model year, slotted below the Navigator. As with the Explorer and Mountaineer, a three-row seating configuration was standard; in contrast to the Explorer and Mountaineer, a six-passenger configuration was standard, with bucket seats and a center console in the second row (a second-row bench seat was available as a no-cost option).

Alongside the choice of four-wheel-drive drivetrain configuration and towing packages, the Aviator was offered with relatively few options. In addition to all the standard features, options included heated/cooled front bucket seats, xenon (HID) headlights, 17-inch chrome wheels and a DVD based navigation both of these options were late availability in 2003 on the premium model and 2004 (Ultimate), 2005 (Elite pkg). Shared with the Mountaineer, the Aviator was equipped with dual front/side airbags, side curtain airbags, along with stability and traction control.


Sharing its chassis with the third generation Explorer, the Aviator is derived from the body-on-frame Ford U1 platform. Sharing its 2,888 mm (113.7 in) wheelbase with the Explorer/Mountaineer, the Aviator is fitted with four-wheel independent suspension.

Along with the Explorer and Mountaineer, rear-wheel-drive is standard; the Aviator was offered with four-wheel-drive as an option. A standard towing package was fitted to all 4WD Aviators with a heavy-duty towing package optional on either RWD or 4WD models.


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

Producing 225 kW (302 hp; 306 PS) and 407 N⋅m (300 lbf⋅ft) of torque, the DOHC V8 engine in the Aviator came with two more horsepower than the 5.4 L V8 in the Navigator (though with 75 N⋅m (55 lbf⋅ft) less of torque). As with the Explorer/Mountaineer, rear-wheel-drive was standard, with Lincoln offering four-wheel-drive as an option; all versions were equipped with a 5-speed 5R55E overdrive automatic transmission.


As with the Mountaineer, the Aviator derived its body construction from the third generation Explorer, sharing its body structure, doors, and roofline with both model lines. The Aviator adopts a number of styling cues from the second generation Navigator which was dubbed "The Baby Navigator", with visually similar front and rear fascias, lower door panels/running boards, grilles and headlamps, and license plate surrounds. The Aviator was styled with a Lincoln-specific dashboard, adopting a design nearly identical to the Navigator. Styled similar to later-1960s Lincolns, the rectangular-designed dashboard of both models featured an instrument cluster with electroluminescent gauges and needles. The primary visual difference between an Aviator and a Navigator is the lettering on the radio cover panel; an Aviator is lettered "LINCOLN", with its Navigator counterpart lettered "NAVIGATOR". As with the Navigator, the Aviator was given model-specific seats and leather, with American walnut wood trim on the doors and steering wheel.


At its 2002 launch, the Aviator followed the trim nomenclature of the LS and Navigator, with a Luxury base trim and Premium top-level trim. For 2004, the Premium trim was renamed Ultimate, matching the Navigator and Town Car. For 2005, the Luxury trim became the sole offering, with previous content remaining available as stand-alone options, including a rear-seat DVD player. An Elite option package was offered, which bundled all features of the Premium/Ultimate trims; the package offered a DVD-based navigation system.

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.[3]

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.[4]

While the Aviator's styling borrowed cues from its big brother, the Navigator, it also looked similar to the very widespread 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 4WD model held it out of contention for the top spots.[5]


During 2004, Lincoln previewed the second generation of the Aviator at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show, shifting from a three-row SUV to a two-row crossover SUV. Lincoln-Mercury intended for the Aviator to skip the 2006 model year entirely to enter production as an early 2007 model. Based on the Ford CD3 platform (shared with the Fusion sedan), the second generation Aviator was to become the Lincoln counterpart of the newly introduced Edge.

The final Aviator was manufactured on August 19th, 2005, as Ford phased out the third generation Explorer.

During 2005 and 2006, Lincoln underwent a rebranding of its model line. With the exception of the Navigator and Town Car, all future Lincoln vehicles adopted an "MK" nameplate. Coinciding with lower than expected sales of the 2003–2005 Aviator, the 2007 Aviator crossover SUV was renamed the MKX.

Second generation (2019–)[edit]

Second generation
Lincoln Aviator (39327926370).jpg
The Lincoln Aviator prototype at the 2018 New York Auto Show.
Production 2019 (to commence)
Body and chassis
Related Ford Explorer

At the 2018 New York Auto Show, Lincoln unveiled a prototype version of its planned second generation Aviator, slated to enter production in 2019 as either a 2019 or 2020 model.[2][6] While not announced as a replacement for the MKT, the Aviator will be marketed above the Nautilus and below the standard-wheelbase Navigator.

Vehicle overview[edit]

The 2018 Aviator prototype marks the debut of an all-new vehicle platform for Ford Motor Company; while the vehicle is rear-wheel-drive, the architecture is designed for multiple powertrain layouts, including all-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive.[2] The second generation Aviator will share its platform architecture with the sixth generation Explorer (currently under development).[2][6] While again mechanically related to the Explorer, the Aviator will be given its own body design.[2] Adopting design cues from the Continental and Navigator, the Aviator adopted conservative exterior styling, to contrast from a "visual attack" (seen on competing vehicles).[2]

No specific engine or transmission details were announced as part of the unveiling; the production Aviator will offer plug-in hybrid (PHEV) capability as an option, the first Lincoln vehicle to do so.[2][1]

Making their way into the production vehicle, several technology features made their debut on the 2018 prototype Aviator.[2][1] Tying the vehicle camera system with the continuously controlled dampers, Suspension Preview Technology looks at the road ahead for surface irregularities (i.e., potholes), preparing the suspension for impact and its effect on vehicle ride. Phone as a Key allows an Aviator to be driven without keys; the technology allows the smartphone of the owner to serve as the vehicle key fob, with the door-mounted keyless entry keypad allowing access in the event of phone battery failure (the interior is designed with wireless charging for smartphones)[7].

A number of safety technology features are included, with Lincoln CoPilot360 packaging automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert, lane keeping system, reverse camera, and auto high-beams. Reverse Brake Assist applies the brakes if the vehicle detects an object when the transmission is in reverse.[2][7]


Calendar Year American sales
2002[8] 1,856
2003 29,517
2004[9] 23,644
2005 15,873
2006[10] 1,711


External links[edit]