The 2021 Lincoln Aviator Is More Beloved Than You’d Expect

You might not expect stellar performance from a family hauler, but many midsize SUVs prove it’s possible. By now, most people are familiar with the impeccable reputation of the Kia Telluride. Still, plenty of other midsize rivals are on equal footing, including the Lincoln Aviator.

According to Consumer Reports, the 2021 Aviator ranks just below the 2021 Telluride in terms of owner satisfaction. This might be a shock considering the Lincoln Aviator’s low reliability rating and disappointing fuel economy. What makes the Aviator so appealing despite these flaws?

How well the Lincoln Aviator performs

The white and gray leather interior of a 2020 Lincoln Aviator Black Label Chalet edition
2020 Lincoln Aviator | The Lincoln Motor Company

The Lincoln Aviator’s driving experience garnered the most praise from CR’s owner surveys. Its base engine is a twin-turbo V6 capable of 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. Both Grand Touring trims also offer a plug-hybrid powertrain making 494 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque. Each powertrain pairs with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

CR’s testers drove only the gas-powered model but were surprised by the Aviator’s speed. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in an average of 6.2 seconds, with no noticeable delay from a dead stop. Other than the occasional clunky shift at lower speeds, the 10-speed gearbox is also a good match for this engine.

Riders also won’t feel any excessive body lean from the Aviator, and its steering is satisfyingly precise. It requires more braking distance than most of its rivals, but at least the pedal is easy to modulate. The cabin is pleasantly quiet at highway speeds, and the suspension can absorb most bumps easily.

MotorTrend recorded a quicker 0-to-60-mph time of 5.5 seconds for the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring despite being heavier. You might lose momentum quickly in hybrid mode, but the ride is just as smooth as the gas-only Aviator. The standard adaptive air suspension also allows it to conquer larger potholes.

Is the Lincoln Aviator a roomy SUV?

Many owners were also pleased with the styling and comfort of the Lincoln Aviator. Even the lower portions of the cabin were built with soft-touch padding, enhancing both its luxury aesthetic and passenger comfort. Chrome and matte wood accents also decorate the cabin, and the standard seats come with heating and synthetic leather.

The Aviator offers ventilation and heating for the first two rows, both of which are big enough for taller riders. CR says that each of these seats is comfortable, but the second row doesn’t have as much support. The third row is better suited for children because of its cramped dimensions.

The doors are a little annoying to open because the handles have an extra button that needs to be pressed. Seat access is great for the first two rows, but only smaller occupants can reach the third row easily. The second-row seats can fold and have automatic sliding capability, though CR reported it doesn’t always work.

The 2021 Lincoln Aviator also has plenty of storage, over 18 cubic feet of space behind the third row alone. It has nearly 78 cubic feet of space in total, plus several large interior storage bins.

Is this luxury SUV a good value?

Most Lincoln Aviator owners didn’t think the vehicle was worth the price they paid. However, the infotainment system is still highly intuitive and comes with a decent selection of tech features. Also, the Lincoln Aviator’s partial automation technology really impressed CR’s testers. 

The adaptive cruise control and lane-centering technology operate smoothly, though the controls have a somewhat steep learning curve. The lane-keeping assist also didn’t always keep the Aviator inside the lines. Still, instructional videos programmed into the center screen show drivers exactly how to use each advanced safety feature.

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