Overview & Reviews
When Lincoln rolled out its full-size Navigator in the late 1990s, it quickly learned that there was a big demand for luxury-oriented SUVs. After a few years of success, the company decided to expand its lineup with the smaller, more agile (and less expensive) Lincoln Aviator, a midsize luxury SUV. In both concept and execution, the truck-based Aviator was Navigator Lite.
Though our editors thought pretty highly of it upon its launch, the Lincoln Aviator soon lagged behind in a rapidly expanding segment where competing car-based SUVs surpassed it in performance, interior quality and image. Sales never met with expectations, and Lincoln discontinued the model a few years after its debut.
As a used luxury SUV, the Aviator has a few things going for it, including a reasonable price, plenty of luxury features, a standard V8 engine and a third-row seat. And thanks to those slow sales, it's also a rare sight on the road. Though there are certainly better all-around choices to be had for a luxury SUV or crossover, the Lincoln Aviator might be suitable for someone wanting a lesser-known alternative.
Most recent Lincoln Aviator
The Lincoln Aviator was produced for the 2003-'05 model years. Built on the same chassis as the Ford Explorer, the Aviator featured a fully independent suspension, third-row seating and V8 power. Like its bigger Navigator brother, the Aviator offered lots of amenities and an upscale interior intended to rival even the most exclusive European and Japanese luxury brands.
For power, this midsize luxury SUV was equipped with a 4.6-liter V8 that cranked out 302 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic sent this considerable thrust to either the rear wheels on two-wheel-drive versions or all four in the all-wheel-drive Aviator. (A traditional four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing was never offered on this Lincoln SUV.) The muscle-bound V8, along with the Aviator's body-on-frame design, gave the Lincoln a serious towing advantage over its less rugged competition, with a maximum capacity of 7,300 pounds (7,100 pounds for AWD models).
The Lincoln Aviator shared styling themes with its larger sibling inside and out, including a waterfall center stack design complemented by contrasting wood and leather trim. The instrument panel featured classy, large analog dials with brilliant white numbering and red needles. Lincoln's midsize luxury SUV could seat six or seven, depending on whether it was ordered with a second-row split-bench seat or individual captain's chairs with a center console. Compared with its rivals, the Aviator offered ample rear legroom, especially in the third row. Overall, its interior was a well-designed, attractive-looking package, though materials quality was a couple steps below the import-brand competition.
Lincoln engineers also went to great lengths to strengthen the chassis during the transformation from Explorer to Aviator ¯ an effort that reduced body flex and improved ride and handling dynamics. And for a body-on-frame SUV, the Aviator was quite comfortable in urban settings. However, when our editors drove it alongside the competing crossover SUVs of the time, the Aviator lacked handling agility on more challenging roads.
Standard equipment was fairly generous. There were two trim levels initially: Luxury and Premium (later called Ultimate). Luxury models came with dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, adjustable pedals and rear park assist. Aviator Premium/Ultimate models had HID headlamps and heated and cooled seats. Stability control, a moonroof, a rear-seat entertainment system, a DVD-based navigation system and a trailer hitch were optional.
Updates to the Lincoln Aviator were minimal. In 2004, Lincoln changed the name of the Aviator's high-line trim level from Premium to Ultimate. Improvements that year included optional satellite radio and the addition of a rollover sensor to the optional stability control system. In 2005, the stability system was made standard, and the model lineup was pared down to one well-equipped trim level with separate luxury option packages for those who wanted a bit more.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 346.00
04 Aviator - Nice SUV - 2004 Lincoln Aviator
By NJdriver - December 29 - 2:00 am
It's real nice all around, inside and out. There's nothing like it in it's class. All others are either too big, too small or have design issues. We quickly nixed the Envoy XL, GX270 and Volvo for these reasons. Will fit 8 people though only 7 belts. Much better value than higher priced Asian SUV's that seat 7 or 8. I hope mileage improves after break-in. It's our first SUV and easy transition from Mercedes E320 though the MB is slightly superior in every aspect but $20k more.
AVIATOR ELEGANCE AND SAFETY - 2004 Lincoln Aviator
By installer - December 29 - 2:00 am
SPORTY ELEGANCE GOES WITHOUT SAYING. SAFTEY IS THE KEY, MY WIFE HIT A UTILITY POLE HEAD ON AND SHE AND MY SON WALKED AWAY WITHOUT A SCRATCH. THE VEHICLE SUFFERED $30,000 IN DAMAGE. THE VEHICLE WAS REPAIRED, IT LOOKS AND RIDES LIKE THE DAY OUT OF THE SHOWROOM. I AM THINKING OF BUYING A SECOND ONE.
What a great SUV - 2004 Lincoln Aviator
By fmp - December 18 - 10:00 am
Fun to drive and very confortable
Aviator - 2003 Lincoln Aviator
By jpx5324 - November 28 - 10:00 am
Love the interior, navigaton system is excellent. Chrome wheels look great! the ride is just like a car but it is still and SUV.
One of the Best - 2005 Lincoln Aviator
By Howard Golden - October 31 - 10:26 pm
A great vehicle to drive under all conditions.
Great Lexus - 2003 Lincoln Aviator
By Bruce Bock - October 16 - 10:00 am
Quite a plesure to drive. It has it all
teh best - 2003 Lincoln Aviator
By sucker1234567 - October 16 - 10:00 am
very good car no complaints except on bumpy road or up a mountain in tends to tilt over...................
awesome aviator - 2003 Lincoln Aviator
By soprano - October 16 - 10:00 am
love it interior is fabulous!vehicle is very solid,I also have town car03 and this is a lot more luxury than my town car.very happy with this vehicle.
More than Upgraded Explorer - 2003 Lincoln Aviator
By JoePo - October 16 - 10:00 am
While built on the Explorer chasis the ride and handling are nothing like it. I owned Explorers for many years before buying the Aviator, this vehicle has all the features of an Explorer and then some.
FIRST SUV - 2003 Lincoln Aviator
By ROBIN3979 - October 16 - 10:00 am
I AM IN MY 60'S. TRADED A 99 CADILLAC. AFTER DRING THE AVIATOR AND A TOWN CAR, MY WIFE AND I BOTH AGREED ON THE AVIATOR. LOVE IT.