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Discussion Starter #1
Lincoln has done it again! It is now "upgrading" the Ford Explorer to become the Lincoln Aviator...as if Mercury Mountaineer is not enough. (This begs the question, "who would buy the Mountaineer??" Mercury is ALREADY not doing too well. Strange logic by Ford.)

Aviator will have similar interior trim as the big Lincoln Navigator (faux brushed aluminum trim) along with similar exterior styling. It will have the Mercury Marauder's 4.6 L engine (302 horsepower and 300 pounds-feet of torque and drives a five-speed-automatic transmission). Unfortunately, this engine is a car engine, with peak torque above 4000 RPM. From reading a few previews, a few authors have mentioned it's lack of low-end power during acceleration. (The same can be said about the Mercury Marauder too.)

Other highlights: HIDs and stability control (with roll-over sensors). Unfortunately, there will be NO low-range, just AWD mode.

Here is the link to more info:

http://www.cars.com/carsapp/nationa...ln/aviator.tmpl
 

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Discussion Starter #2
CanadianDriver.com First Drive
Link:

http://www.canadiandriver.com/articles/ly/03aviator.htm

First Drive:
2003 Lincoln Aviator
by Laurance Yap

Hot Springs, Virginia - Despite what it says on that shiny new wrapper, there's no way you're going to be flying a Lincoln Aviator anytime soon.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. SUVs, after all, due to their height and high centres of gravity, are more prone to airborne antics after wheel-droppings and steering overcorrections, so that the Aviator isn't a flyer comes as good news. Its wide stance and chunky 17-inch wheels make the Aviator feel stable, planted, and confident in the turns, despite its traditionally sturdy ladder-on-frame construction.

In fact, thanks to a four-wheel independent suspension, the Aviator feels positively car-like. It's been tuned more for ride comfort than pure handling--that's as the way it should be for a family-friendly SUV--but the steering responds faithfully and linearly to every input, the brakes are alert with strong stopping power and little nosedive, and body roll (and the resultant head-tossing motion common in tall vehicles) is very well controlled. On some of Virginia's most sinuous back roads, the Aviator was a cinch to drive, despite its size; for a midsize SUV this is about as enjoyable as it gets.

Despite 302 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, the Aviator's not really going to fly down the road, either. Sure, there's snap-to-it response to the gas pedal from the gutsy V8, but given it's tugging around more than 4000 pounds, the modular engine still struggles on steep uphill grades; it doesn't make much noise, but what noise it does make has a gruff, kind of truckish edge to it. Nevertheless, its deep-chested, lazy-revving character makes for energetic stoplight takeoffs, and lots of low-down torque means you never have to reach into higher revs to make adequate progress. The five-speed automatic is a gem, with quick and smooth shifts under any condition; towing capability is best-in-class, at 7500 lbs.

One major advantage that Aviator holds over the Explorer on which it is very loosely based is a more sophisticated all-wheel-drive system. There is no low range (you wouldn't take this Lincoln that far off-road anyway, would you?) but nor is there any button to push or knob to twist to engage full traction; it's there pretty much all the time, and power--under normal conditions split 30/70 for a distinct rear-drive feel--is diverted to the wheels that could use it most automatically, without any intervention.

Driving details aside, what makes Aviator an exceptionally well-resolved, and beautifully-refined, conveyance, is its sumptuous cabin appointments. It partly comes from being designed from inside out; the exterior styling is conservative--timeless, you could suggest, thanks to some nice details like the lights and wheels--but the boxy body has liberated a lot of interior space, enough for what is the most useful third-row seat in the class; it's not roomy, really, but is at least habitable for short trips.

The interior is packed with thoughtful features, like multiple storage bins, sunglass holders, and other places to lose your stuff. The seats are big, plush, and comfortable over long distances. There's an optional DVD system to keep rear-seat passengers entertained (too bad it doesn't have the LS' THX-certified audio system), an in-dash 6-CD changer, and the front seats are ventilated as well as heated. Power assists for everything are, of course, standard.

Cabin quality and design is simply among the best in the business--as nice as a Navigator, at 7/8ths scale. The leather is rich, the dash has a fine grain that would do a BMW proud, and the big "T" of silver plastic that divides the symmetrical dashboard (a throwback to the design-icon Continentals of years past) looks fantastic. Too bad this, and the rest of the metal-painted surfaces aren't really metal, but they do elevate the cabin's ambiance way above the class norm. Which makes it all the more irritating that some cheap touches undermine the whole thing--power adjustment only for the bottom cushion of the seat, for example, or a mirror adjuster ripped off a Focus and painted silver to match the rest of the insides.

Aviator's wide stance (true, this is partly illusory, as an Acura MDX is nearly four inches wider) makes for an elbow-friendly cabin; the seats and scooped-out door panels, along with generous head- and leg-room in the first two rows mean you're never lacking for space. Nor airiness: not only is the tall cabin glazed with vast quantities of safety glass, and the interior finishes are light and bright. The rear windows go all the way down, too.

One thing about that name: if perhaps "Aviator" isn't the best moniker for this vehicle given its relaxed, road-tripping luxury mission, it may hit just the right metaphorical tone for the way this thing will depart showroom floors. Aviator is a near-perfect luxury SUV compromise, with impressive room, excellent feature content. It also looks, even from close up, exactly like a much more expensive Navigator--whose massive size and fuel consumption exclude it from consideration for many people who might otherwise consider a Lincoln SUV.
 

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Edmunds.com Review
Next of (Lin)Kin
By Ed Hellwig

When Lincoln rolled out the Navigator in 1998 it was met with more than a few snickers and furrowed brows. Sure, some of its famed Continentals were big enough to qualify for their own ZIP codes, but a full-size Lincoln truck?

Traditionalists' fears of brand dissipation and public ridicule were quickly set aside when the Navigator began racking up huge sales numbers right out of the gate. Everyone from corporate executives to professional athletes flocked to the big Lincoln, attracted by its endless amenities and commanding presence. Its popularity was so strong that even Cadillac was forced into building a full-size luxury sport-ute of its own.

With the Navigator firmly entrenched in the luxury sport-utility scene (a redesigned version debuted for 2003), Lincoln decided to expand the franchise. This time, however, it would be a smaller, more agile and less expensive sport-ute — an SUV for those who want all the luxury but don't need the biggest vehicle on the block. Thus, the Aviator was born.

Built on the same chassis as the recently redesigned Ford Explorer, the Aviator features a fully independent suspension, third-row seating and class-leading V8 power. Like the Navigator, the Aviator offers amenities galore and an upscale interior intended to rival even the most exclusive European and Japanese luxury brands.

After spending several days behind the wheel, we were more than a little bit impressed with the Aviator's overall feel and performance. More than just an Explorer dress-up job, the Aviator delivers a plush ride and a quiet, comfortable cabin that should make it a strong player in the midsize luxury SUV segment. Don't go throwing away those Lexus brochures just yet, but don't be surprised if you drive this newest Lincoln and come away thinking that maybe it's finally time to buy American again.

With a base price starting at just under $40,000, the Aviator is positioned against some pretty stiff competition. Notable rivals in this price range include the Lexus GX 470 and Acura's MDX, both of which offer third-row seating and similarly luxurious accommodations. European contenders include BMW's X5, the Mercedes M-Class and Land Rover's Discovery.

These formidable names obviously weren't overlooked by Lincoln as the Aviator stacks up favorably in nearly every comparable category. Take its engine, for instance. With 302 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, the Aviator easily outmuscles its competition by a wide margin. Its maximum tow rating of 7,300 pounds (7,100 pounds on all-wheel-drive versions) is over one ton more than either the Lexus or the Acura (only the Land Rover Discovery's is higher at 7,716 pounds). With power like that, the Aviator can handle a good size ski boat that would leave the others gasping for breath.

Around town, the powerful V8 moves the Aviator with authority. Any anxiety about passing or merging is quickly forgotten in this vehicle as it builds speed quickly and smoothly. The standard five-speed automatic transmission moves between the gears with little disturbance, but we did notice that it can be lazy at times, hesitating to downshift a bit longer than we would have liked. Our test vehicle was a preproduction prototype so this shortcoming may get worked out on production models.

As impressive as the engine is, what really gives the Aviator an upscale feel is its combination of a precisely tuned suspension, stiff chassis and smooth steering. Lincoln went to great lengths to strengthen the Aviator's chassis, a goal that not only reduces body flex but also allows the suspension to work more effectively. The result is a vehicle that soaks up even the biggest road hazards with minimal intrusion into the cabin and a suspension that tracks well over just about any surface. The steering moves between generous levels of assist at low speeds to virtually no assist at highway speeds, all the while maintaining a smooth progressive feel with just enough feedback to give you a good idea of what's going on down below.

Cabin noise is also kept well under control thanks to an extra thick windshield and side windows as well as a stronger crossmember supporting the dashboard to reduce squeaks and rattles. Engine noise is intrusive at high rpm but Lincoln claims that this is deliberate. The idea is to let the sound of the burly V8 filter through to reinforce the feeling of power. It's a well-intentioned gesture, but we can't help but think buyers in this category would prefer that the engine stay as quiet as possible at all times.

There's little to complain about with the rest of the cabin. As a sister vehicle to the Navigator, the Aviator not only shares its exterior appearance with its larger sibling, it also uses a similar interior theme. The waterfall design of the center stack creates a clean, stylish look complemented by the contrasting wood and leather trim. The dual-zone automatic climate controls are neatly arranged and simple to use, while the equally user-friendly stereo can be hidden away by lowering the "Lincoln"-emblazoned cover. The instrument panel features large analog dials with brilliant white numbering and red needles that not only look classy but are easy to read as well.

Unlike some of the more sporting European SUVs, the Lincoln's bucket seats lean toward the softer side, a trait we think makes them more appealing to a wider range of drivers. We found the seats comfortable for all body types, and the door-mounted controls make adjustments easy. Our Premium-trimmed model included climate-controlled chairs that provided both heating and cooling for the driver and front passenger. Although the feature seemed a bit gimmicky at first, long drives in the hot summer sun proved the cooling system to be a worthwhile feature.

Other convenient aspects of the Aviator's cockpit include ample storage thanks to a large center console and multiple door compartments, well-placed cupholders and satellite steering wheel controls for the audio, climate and cruise control systems. The comprehensive trip computer provides useful information like miles-to-empty and multiple trip meters as well as allowing for easy personalization of the vehicle's various features like the automatic door locks and delayed exit lighting.

There are two configurations available for the second row: a 40/20/40 split bench seat or individual captain's chairs with a center console. We found the captain's chairs in our test vehicle a little short on legroom, but otherwise comfortable. (Specs show second-row legroom in the Aviator is equal to the GX 470 and an inch shy of the MDX.) An optional DVD rear entertainment system will be available as a late-year addition, but until then, rear-seat passengers can spend time fiddling with their very own climate controls located at the rear of the front-seat center console.

Both second-row chairs fold and tumble forward for access to the standard third-row seat. Passenger room in the third row is expectedly tight. With 34.8 inches of legroom, the Aviator far surpasses the Lexus (24.9) and Acura (29.3), but you better be skinny, as shoulder width measures just 47.3 inches compared to 56.8 inches in the Lexus and 58.6 inches in the MDX. With the third-row seat folded, the Aviator offers up to 78.5 cubic feet of storage space, slightly more than the GX 470 (77.5), but slightly less than the MDX (81.5).

With so much space for the family, it's not surprising that the Aviator also features multiple passenger safety systems. The Personal Safety System combines dual-stage front airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and energy management retractors to keep the driver and front passenger safe in a severe frontal collision. A standard Safety Canopy provides side-impact protection by covering most of the first- and second-row side windows upon deployment, as well as remaining inflated for extra protection if the system senses an impending rollover. A second-generation version of Ford's AdvanceTrac stability control system will be available as a midyear addition.

Overall, the interior is a well-designed, attractive-looking package that lives up to the luxury sport-ute moniker, but there are a few minor areas that could stand some improvement. Although the leather and wood trim are both top quality, the Aviator's satin-finished plastic trim still lacks the high-quality look and feel exhibited by its Lexus, BMW and Mercedes counterparts. We could also do without the center console-mounted window switches, and the door handles would be easier to find in the dark if they were placed higher up on the door.

Obviously, our complaints are minor. Credit this to the fact that nearly every editor who got behind the wheel came away pleasantly surprised with the Aviator's level of refinement and overall athleticism. All too often, American luxury vehicles fall into the trap of substituting new features for better engineering. While the Aviator does offer a substantial list of upscale amenities, it also serves up a class-leading engine, excellent driving dynamics and a quiet, comfortable cabin.

As the younger look-alike sibling to the popular Navigator, the Aviator may take some time to emerge from its big brother's shadow (it's a very big shadow), but it has all the right hardware, not to mention a more manageable size, more nimble handling and an equally luxurious interior. If this sounds like the kind of upscale SUV you've been looking for but you never liked the idea of something as big as the Navigator, this new Lincoln might surprise you.
 

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Car & Driver Review:

http://www.caranddriver.com/xp/Cara...her.xml?&page=1

Fifth Place (tie)
Lincoln Aviator

If there was shock value to be offered in this mad exercise of testing in the mud and on the macadam, it came in the form of the Lincoln Aviator. Many approached its rather cramped cockpit with a yawn, expecting a tarted-up Ford Explorer, only to discover a refined, highly attractive mainstream sport-utility vehicle.

THE VERDICT
Lincoln Aviator

Highs: Lusty engine, surprisingly civilized manners on- and off-road.

Lows: Baltic Avenue seat controls, Park Place sticker price.

The Verdict: The platinum-edition Ford Explorer, for better or worse.

Comments in our logbook recorded such flattery as "very nice highway car," "transmission shifts great," "smooth powertrain," "suspension taut," "the engine is the hot rod of the group," and "great transmission and engine sounds."

Overall, the Aviator acquitted itself well in the performance department, with the quickest sprint to 60 mph (7.4 seconds) and the second-best times through the quarter-mile and the double-lane-change maneuver. And those numbers don't lie. Out on the twists and turns, the Aviator cleaves to a line and follows the intended path faithfully. But off-road, its taut, short-travel suspension often left one or two wheels airborne and spinning, and it was prone to dragging its chin and tail in the rough stuff.
In fact, had it not fallen short in two critical departments, it is likely the Aviator would have ranked higher. The most serious flaw was its as-tested price of $48,675, second highest of the eight and almost eight grand more than the Acura MDX. Add to that a tight, cocoonlike driving compartment — and a lack of features such as a power seatback recliner, traction and stability control, and load leveling — and the Aviator looks overpriced.

That's unfortunate, because the Aviator had drivers pointing to its competence in all driving conditions. Its 302-hp, 32-valve DOHC V-8 and its five-speed automatic with a lockup torque converter were a delight, as were its supple, all-independent suspension and its 7100-pound towing capacity, a close third in this test. Skip the rear-seat DVD entertainment system, the sunroof, and a few other resistible options, and a $43,000 Aviator looks darned attractive.

Because of the budget-busting number at the bottom of its order form, there was little choice but to drop the Aviator out of contention for the overall win in this intensely competitive grouping.
 

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OVER PRICED EXPLODER MEETS IT DOOM ALREADY!

2005 - End of Lincoln Aviator
By AMY WILSON | Automotive News

DETROIT -- Lincoln will drop the truck-based Aviator SUV as early as 2005, say two suppliers working on the program.

The Aviator, on the market for nine months, has sold poorly and has been viewed as a clone of the Ford Explorer.

The SUV will be replaced in the Lincoln lineup by a new sport wagon produced on the Mazda6 platform beginning in August 2006. The suppliers say production of the Aviator is scheduled to stop at the end of the 2005 model year.

But the exact timing of the Aviator's demise still is being determined, say supplier and company sources. The Aviator is assembled at Ford Motor Co.'s St. Louis assembly plant, which Ford has targeted to close by mid-decade. St. Louis also assembles the Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer.

Ford officials wouldn't comment on the Aviator's fate.

But a Ford source acknowledged that the existing truck-based SUV won't be needed after the new 2007 sport wagon debuts. That sport wagon, to be built in Oakville, Ontario, is designed to fight vehicles such as the Lexus RX 330 and Infiniti FX45.

While the Aviator looks much like the Explorer, the company invested heavily for new Aviator parts, such as a different instrument panel. About half of the Aviator's parts are new. So even though the company paid generously for new parts, a top Ford executive says, it still failed to differentiate the Aviator from the Explorer.

The Aviator's high price is a problem. The Navigator starts at $49,050; the Aviator starts at $39,995 but can reach more than $54,000.

In the first seven months of 2003, Lincoln sold 15,164 Aviators. It had planned full-year sales of up to 35,000 in 2003.
 

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Which reminds me of Ford's slogan... " Have you ignored a Ford lately?"
 

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Yes I have. I have switched to Murano! And I am not going to explain why..........At least on thi sforum...............haaaa
 

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My wife has a Ford Truck. It's called a Taurus. It has leather, a sunroof, and one of their "powerful" engines. She tells me it's a car, but I've driven cars, I had a Maxima. I've driven hers and I swear it rides like a big old Pickup truck.

Her company makes her drive it. She wants a Murano.:D
 
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