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2021 Lincoln Aviator Review

The Lincoln Aviator ranks in the top third of the luxury midsize SUV class. It offers across-the-board appeal, from its user-friendly tech controls to its blend of energetic performance with a serene ride.

Pros & Cons

  • Intuitive infotainment controls
  • Huge cargo hold
  • Coddling ride
  • Lively powertrains
  • Narrow seats
  • Less agile than some rivals

8.2

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.3
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 7.8
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.9 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Lincoln Aviator?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Lincoln Aviator a Good SUV?

Yes, the Lincoln Aviator is a great luxury midsize SUV. Inside, it boasts elegant materials, good fit and finish, and intuitive controls for its infotainment system. This Lincoln also offer plenty of cargo space, composed handling, a pillowy ride, and potent powertrain options, including a fuel-savvy plug-in hybrid.

Why You Can Trust Us: 17 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about this luxury SUV in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like horsepower ratings, gas mileage, and cargo space dimensions with 17 professional Lincoln Aviator reviews.

This 2021 Aviator review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2020.

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Lincoln Aviator?

The Aviator is a great choice, but it’s also a pricey one. If affordability is a concern, you might be interested in the Ford Explorer. It’s essentially a nonluxury version of the Aviator, and it has more cargo space and third-row legroom. If price isn’t as critical, then consider the Audi Q7, which has spry handling and lavish cabin materials.

Find a 2021 Lincoln Aviator for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Lincoln Aviator: What's the Difference?

Other than some minor shuffling of features and a few new exterior and interior color options, Lincoln made no big changes to the 2021 Aviator. Lincoln reintroduced the Aviator to its lineup for 2020 after a lengthy hiatus.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Aviator »

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2020 Aviator review to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Lincoln Aviator Cost?

Lincoln has not released official pricing for the 2021 Aviator, as of this writing. Based on the nearly identical 2020 model, we estimate the new Aviator will have a starting MSRP around $51,100.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lincoln dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lincoln deals page.

Lincoln Aviator Versus the Competition

Lincoln Aviator vs. Mercedes-Benz GLE

The Mercedes-Benz GLE is a great luxury midsize SUV. It’s a powerful performer, especially with the potent engines in the Mercedes-AMG models. The Mercedes also gets better fuel economy – its base engine is smaller and significantly less powerful than the Aviator's – and it strikes a good balance between comfort and sportiness. On top of that, the GLE has a world-class interior.

Compare the Aviator and GLE »

Lincoln Aviator vs. Lincoln Navigator

The Lincoln Navigator is the brand’s full-size SUV, and while it shares some similarities with its sibling, there are some notable differences. The Navigator has more cargo and passenger room than the Aviator, along with adult-friendly third-row seating. However, the Aviator’s smaller size contributes to its superior fuel economy ratings and better-balanced handling. It’s expected to be more affordable too, with a base price undercutting the Navigator’s by more than $20,000.

Compare the Aviator and Navigator »

Compare the Aviator, GLE, and Navigator »

Aviator Interior: Good All-Around

Aviator Cargo Space

This vehicle’s 18.3 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 41.8 cubic feet behind the second row, and total of 77.7 cubic feet with both rows folded down are all above-average totals among luxury midsize SUVs.

A power liftgate comes standard, and a hands-free liftgate is available. There are also plenty of in-cabin storage options, including massive door pockets and an available rear-seat console.

How Many People Does the Aviator Seat?

This Lincoln is a three-row SUV that can seat up to seven when equipped with a second-row bench seat. Models with second-row captain’s chairs seat six. Some critics find the seats comfortable, but others knock the captain’s chairs for being narrow and lacking thigh support. However, most agree that there’s plenty of room in the first two rows. The second row can slide forward to allow easier access to the third row, but it’s still hard to get back there, and the space is more hospitable to kids than adults.

Synthetic leather upholstery and heated front seats with 10-way power adjustments are standard. A plethora of upgrades is available, including genuine leather upholstery, 12- or 30-way power-adjustable front seats, ventilated and massaging front seats, heated and ventilated second-row seats, and a heated steering wheel.

Aviator and Child Car Seats

There are four complete sets of LATCH connectors for the second- and third-row outboard seats. The whole setup is easy to use, though the tethers could be confused for other hardware.

Aviator Interior

Luxurious touches like real metal accents or wood trim help endow the Lincoln’s cabin with a sense of opulence. It’s not quite as high-end as a Mercedes-Benz or Volvo, but it’s still upscale.

Aviator Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Using the SYNC 3 infotainment system is simple. The large touch screen displays crisp graphics and has rapid response times. That makes it easy to appreciate this vehicle’s high-tech features without taking your eyes off the road for long.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 10.1-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a 10-speaker stereo, and four USB ports
  • Available infotainment features: navigation, a rear-seat entertainment system, two more USB ports, HD Radio, and a 14- or 28-speaker Revel stereo
  • Additional standard features: proximity keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, and tri-zone automatic climate control
  • Other available features: quad-zone automatic climate control and a panoramic sunroof

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Aviator Performance: Well-Rounded Appeal

Aviator Powertrains

Your choice of powertrain in this luxury SUV boils down to whether you’d prefer a gas-only or a plug-in-hybrid model. The Standard, Reserve, and Black Label trims boast a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine with 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. Grand Touring and Black Label Grand Touring models pair the twin-turbo engine with an electric motor to produce 494 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque.

The base engine delivers ample power, whether you’re on a grocery store run or you need a quick burst of power to pass that truck on the highway. For even more muscle, look to the plug-in hybrid. Regardless of which powertrain you pick, you’ll get a 10-speed automatic transmission. It’s smooth and refined, and it excels at selecting the right gear.

Aviator Gas Mileage

With an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, the gas-only Aviator gets average fuel economy for the luxury midsize SUV class. Models with AWD get 17/24 mpg city/highway. The hybrid model has an electric-only range of 21 miles and earns a rating of 56 MPG-equivalent in combined city/highway driving.

For more information, read What is MPGe?

Aviator Ride and Handling

Having a silky ride is one of this Lincoln’s strong suits. Comfort can be further enhanced by opting for the available adaptive suspension or a forward-facing camera that scans the road for potholes and relays that information to the suspension so it can adjust ahead of time. Additionally, this bulky vehicle is easy to drive, with composed handling and steering. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

The Grand Touring and Black Label Grand Touring are plug-in hybrids that have two drive modes not found in the other trims. Pure EV keeps the SUV in an all-electric drive mode, and it will prompt you before shifting back to gasoline. Preserve EV uses the engine and motor while recharging up to 75% of the 13.6-kWh battery pack. Using a 240-volt charger, you can recharge the battery in three to four hours.

Aviator Towing Capacity

The Aviator PHEV can tow up to 5,600 pounds, and the gas-only model boosts that to 6,700 pounds when properly equipped.

Read more about performance »

Aviator Reliability

Is the Lincoln Aviator Reliable?

The 2021 Lincoln Aviator has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five.

Lincoln Aviator Warranty

Lincoln backs the Aviator with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty. Hybrid components for the PHEV model are covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Aviator Safety

Aviator Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Aviator an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the frontal and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2021 Aviator as of this writing.

Aviator Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Forward collision warning
  • Forward automatic emergency braking
  • Lane keep assist
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • MyKey (lets you do things like set speed and audio volume limits for secondary drivers)
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Front and rear parking sensors

Available advanced safety features:

  • Adaptive headlights
  • Lane centering assist
  • Stop-and-go adaptive cruise control
  • Reverse automatic emergency braking
  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Parallel and perpendicular park assist
  • Evasive steering assist
  • Head-up display

Read more about safety »

Aviator Dimensions and Weight

The Aviator is 16.6 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 4,742 to 4,863 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Lincoln Aviator Built?

Lincoln builds the 2021 Aviator in Illinois.

Which Lincoln Aviator Model Is Right for Me?

Lincoln makes the 2021 Aviator in five trim levels: Standard, Reserve, Grand Touring, Black Label, and Black Label Grand Touring. The Standard, Reserve, and Black Label have a 400-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine. The Aviator Grand Touring and Black Label Grand Touring are plug-in hybrids. They add an electric motor to the twin-turbo V6, bumping horsepower up to 494. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available in the non-hybrid and standard in the plug-in hybrid. All models have a 10-speed automatic transmission.

A rear-seat entertainment system is available in all but the base trim, although it may require you to add a few other packages before you can get it.

Lincoln has not released any official pricing for the 2021 Aviator as of this writing, so we'll approximate using the 2020 model.

Lincoln Aviator Standard

We estimate that the Aviator will retail for around $51,100. It comes with a 10.1-inch touch screen, a 10-speaker stereo, satellite radio, four USB ports, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, proximity keyless entry, remote start, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power liftgate, heated and 10-way power-adjustable front seats, and synthetic leather upholstery.

Among the standard safety features are rain-sensing windshield wipers, front and rear parking sensors, and Lincoln’s MyKey. Also included is the Lincoln Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assistance features, which comes with a pre-collision warning and braking system, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.

The Elements package adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. A navigation system is available too.

Lincoln Aviator Reserve

Reserve models gain a 14-speaker Revel stereo, HD Radio, perforated leather seats, 12-way power-adjustable front seats, second-row captain’s chairs, quad-zone automatic climate control, a surround-view parking camera system, a hands-free power liftgate, and a panoramic sunroof. The Reserve will likely have an MSRP around $56,200.

A ton of packages and options are available. The Convenience package comes with wireless device charging, soft-close doors, a head-up display, and the ability to use your phone as a key. The Elements Package Plus gets you heated and ventilated seats for the first two rows, as well as a heated steering wheel. There’s also the Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus suite of driver aids, which bundles adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, evasive steering assist, traffic sign recognition, lane centering assist, a park assist system, and reverse automatic emergency braking.

The Luxury package adds a 28-speaker Revel Ultima sound system and 30-way power-adjustable front seats with massaging and ventilation functions. The Dynamic Handling package includes an adaptive air suspension and adaptive steering. Adaptive headlights and a rear console with two USB ports are offered too.

Many of the above options and packages can be bundled into two bigger packages: Reserve I and Reserve II.

Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring

The Aviator Grand Touring picks up the Elements Package Plus and adaptive headlights, but its key distinction is its plug-in-hybrid powertrain. The Grand Touring has many of the same options as the Reserve, including a way to bundle them with the Grand Touring I and II packages. It’s expected to retail for roughly $68,800.

Lincoln Aviator Black Label

Black Label models (roughly $77,700) gain the contents of the Convenience and Luxury packages, as well as the Co-Pilot360 Plus suite. The Dynamic Handling package remains available. The Black Label is the first trim level to offer unique styling elements.

Lincoln Aviator Black Label Grand Touring

The range-topping Black Label Grand Touring combines the plug-in-hybrid powertrain with the Black Label’s equipment list. It also gains the Dynamic Handling package as standard equipment. It’s estimated to have an MSRP around $87,800.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lincoln dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lincoln deals page.

See 2021 Lincoln Aviator specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Lincoln Aviator has a strong powertrain, whether you get the plug-in-hybrid powertrain or the standard gas engine. On top of that, its refined ride, balanced handling, and cavernous cargo hold help distinguish it in our luxury midsize SUV rankings. It may not be as athletic or opulent as some of its rivals, but the Aviator is nonetheless a compelling option.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The Aviator is a world-class luxury SUV capable of running with rivals like the BMW X5, Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class and the Cadillac XT6." -- Autotrader
  • "The Aviator is a proper luxury vehicle built in the American style." -- Car and Driver (2020)
  • "As the all-new 2020 starts at $52,000, we see no reason why it won't be a strong contender in its midsize luxury SUV class, unlike its very nice but slow-selling 2003-to-2005 predecessor." -- Truck Trend (2020)
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2021 Lincoln Aviator

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