2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring Review: A 500-HP plug-in hybrid?
It’s a bizarre juxtaposition. I’m traveling at high speeds on a winding road in the nearly 500 hp Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring listening to Luciano Pavarotti through the 28-speaker Revel Ultima audio system while getting a massage; the sporty ambience outside contrasts with the quiet and serene cabin. There’s no V-8 growl; the three-row luxury crossover’s quick response, instant power delivery, and quiet powertrain makes you realize this isn’t your traditional performance-oriented SUV.
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Think of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring—the plug-in hybrid Aviator—as an alternative to high-performance SUVs. Instead of making top fuel economy numbers this hybrid’s top priority, the Grand Touring was designed to compete with the V-8s of the world.
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And you feel this not just at the wheel, but also in its numbers. With 494 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque, the Aviator Grand Touring brings more emotion to a brand that isn’t particularly known for performance. Using the same 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine as the non-hybrid Aviator, the Grand Touring adds a 13.6 kWh battery that increases its power to deliver a V-8-like thrust. The 10-speed automatic transmission in the regular Aviator also makes its way into the Grand Touring, but engineers tweaked some components to adapt it to the hybrid powertrain.
Read our review of the non-hybrid 2020 Lincoln Aviator here.
From the moment you step on the accelerator, you’ll feel the near-instant power delivery on the four wheels. All-wheel-drive is standard on the hybrid, and the 75-kilowatt electric motor quickly discharges its power. The battery and all the electric components add about 700 pounds to the weight of the non-hybrid Aviator, which is quite noticeable at the wheel. But the additional power makes up for it. On the twisty roads, the Aviator Grand Touring feels more planted, and there was significantly less body roll compared to the regular Aviator. The 10-speed automatic shifts smoothly and at the right time.
Whether you’re in Normal or Excite mode, the Grand Touring provides an varied driving experience. As its name suggests, Excite mode makes things a bit more exciting. Besides enhancing the throttle response and stiffening the suspension, Excite mode lowers the air suspension on the Grand Tourings equipped with it, and ups the performance driving. Its go-fast ability is notable from the moment you step on the throttle. It took me a few minutes to get used to the accelerator—put a bit too much pressure and you’ll feel your head toss. But once you’re used to it, the Grand Touring drives really well.
The steering feels more weighted than the regular Aviator and provides more feedback of what’s happening on the road. The regenerative brakes are seamless; it feels similar to the non-hybrid model.
Besides having the same five drive modes as other Aviators (Normal, Conserve, Excite, Slippery, and Deep Conditions), the Grand Touring adds two modes—Pure EV and Preserve EV. Pure EV keeps the Grand Touring in all-electric mode when possible. Depending on the driving conditions, you can expect about 18 miles of full-electric driving with the battery completely charged, with a top speed of about 80 mph. In contrast, Preserve EV will save and recharge the battery for another time; the battery will be recharged to about 75 percent in this mode.
Lincoln says that customers should expect to charge the 13.6 kWh battery in three to four hours with a 240-volt charger (Level 2), and between six and eight hours with a 120-volt charger (Level 1). The automaker says all dealers will be partnering with local electricians in case customers want to install a Level 2 charger at home.
Given that the 2020 Aviator’s platform was designed with the plug-in function in mind, there’s no compromise in interior space in the Grand Touring. All hybrids have the same interior dimensions as the non-hybrid models, and with the battery located under the right side of the passenger’s seats, the low center of gravity allows it to have better handling.
Lincoln was careful in minimizing design changes between the Aviator Grand Touring and other trims. Grand Touring changes include a slightly different grille, and the Lincoln and Aviator badges are painted in Spirit Blue—the same blue that Lincolns were painted in the 1970s. Those details and a a charging port near the driver’s door are all that distinguish the Grand Touring plug-in hybrid from other trims. And even with the Grand Touring name itself, Lincoln avoided any kind of overt hybrid badging.
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With the plug-in hybrid arriving toward the end of this year, we don’t yet have 2020 Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring fuel economy. What we do know is that it will start at $69,895 and the base model (known as Grand Touring) will have similar features of the non-hybrid Reserve model. The Aviator Grand Touring in Black Label form will start at a whopping $88,895, and like all new Lincolns, it will serve as the top trim.
But after driving the two 2020 Aviators back to back, the Grand Touring is the one we were most pleased with. We’ll soon be spending more time with both models, so stay tuned for more driving impressions.
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