|Assembly||Hazelwood, Missouri, USA|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Mid-size luxury sport utility vehicle|
|Body style||5-door SUV|
|Layout||Front engine, rear-wheel drive / all-wheel drive|
|Platform||Ford U1 platform|
Ford Sport Trac
|Engine||4.6 L 32-valve, 4-valve-per-cylinder DOHC Modular V-8|
|Transmission||5-speed 5R55E 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)ñ|
|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 produced by Lincoln. It was marketed in North America from the 2003 to the 2005 model years. As a rebadged variant of the Mercury Mountaineer and Ford Explorer four-door SUVs, the Aviator was manufactured at St. Louis Assembly in Hazelwood, Missouri, along with the Explorer and Mountaineer.
Due to lower than expected sales, the Lincoln Aviator was not continued when the Explorer and Mountaineer were redesigned for 2006. In the Aviator's price range, Lincoln shifted to a crossover SUV, introducing the five-passenger Lincoln MKX (initially intended to wear the Aviator nameplate) as a 2007 model. Along with the Blackwood and Mark LT pickup trucks, the Aviator is one of the shortest-produced vehicles sold by Lincoln.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
The 4.6 L DOHC Modular V-8 from the Ford Mustang Mach 1 and the Mercury Marauder was the standard engine. It produced 302 hp (225 kW) and 300 ft-lbs of torque, two more than the 5.4L Triton V8 in the Navigator, but torque was 55 ft-lbs less than the big brother Navigator. Power was sent to either the rear wheels or all wheels with a five-speed 5R55E overdrive automatic.
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 thirsty 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.
|Calendar Year||American sales|
- "Lincoln's derailed gravy train hitches to another car." Car and Driver, December 2002.
- "The Bradsher Bunch", Car and Driver, January 2003.
- "Ford's F-Series Truck Caps 22nd Year in a Row as America's Best-Selling Vehicle With a December Sales Record". Theautochannel.com. 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- "Ford Achieves First Car Sales Increase Since 1999". Theautochannel.com. 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- "Ford Motor Company 2007 sales". January 3, 2008.
|« previous Lincoln, a luxury division of Ford Motor Company – road car timeline, 1980–present|
|Mid-size||Versailles||Continental (Fox)||Continental (D186)||Continental (D186)||Zephyr/MKZ (CD3)||MKZ (CD4)|
|Full-size||Continental (Panther)||Town Car||Town Car||Town Car|
|Personal luxury car|
|Mark Series||Continental Mark VI||Continental/Lincoln Mark VII||Mark VIII|
|Full-size SUV||Navigator (UN173)||Navigator (U228)||Navigator (U326)|
|Pickup truck||Blackwood||Mark LT||Mark LT (Mexico)|