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2004 Lincoln Aviator Road Test

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Once you slip inside the posh leather interior of the Lincoln Aviator your whole definition of a sport utility vehicle will change. Preconceptions once associating SUVs as rugged, outdoorsy vehicles will vanish. Illusions of a truck-like ride, gone.

Technically the Aviator is a sport utility vehicle. But between you and me, for 45 big ones youre probably not going to traverse the back roads of the Big Thicket or haul a clunky bass boat behind it. Au contraire, this luxury utility vehicle is made to escort you and five-to-six other passengers to the opera, the symphony and perhaps, maybe, a rodeo – if there’s valet parking.

Source: CarSpecs.US
Category:$40,000 – $50,000 Mid Size Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle
Who
should buy
this car:
People who like riding in the lap of luxury without loosing the ability to tote your stuff and explore the wilderness.
Comparable
cars in
this class:
Acura MDX, BMW X3 & X5, Cadillac SRX, Infiniti FX45, Lexus GX470, Mercedes M-Class, Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC90

Falling under Ford Motor Company’s umbrella, the Lincoln Aviator is a late bloomer especially when compared to its cousins, Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer, both of which enjoyed huge success in the early SUV years. Only two years old, the Aviator has a lot of catching up to do.

Competing against a litany of high dollar luxury vehicles that include the Acura MDX, BMW X5, Cadillac SRX, Lexus GX470, Land Rover Discovery, Mercedes-Benz ML500, Volkswagen Touareg and Volvo XC90, though new, the Aviator has an edge: it can piggyback on the success of its older brother, the Navigator.

First introduced in 1998, the Navigator is older, wiser and has better name recognition. However, essentially, the Navigator and Aviator are basically replicas of one another.

Aviators flight plan

Aviator is positioned as an option for young, affluent consumers who are finally waking up to the fact that they really dont need a SUV that can accommodate half a little league team and all of their gear. Goliath-sized SUVs are out, mid-size SUVs with not remarkable, but better gas mileage, lower sticker price and improved maneuverability are in.

It makes sense. To borrow from one giant retailers slogan, you get more for less. Less cost. Less size. And less driving hassle for basically the same interior and exterior. Its genetic engineering for auto manufacturers. Take the basic (successful) vehicle DNA, remove the steroids and, voil, youre in the competition again.

Stacking up against big brother

When compared to the Navigator, the Aviator is a few inches narrower, 6.4″shorter in height and several hundred pounds lighter.

All of which adds up to 77 cubic feet of cargo room in the Aviator versus 104 in the Navigator though smaller, there is room for six or seven individuals. The Aviator comes with two rows of rear seats. The second row is available as a bench (for 3 riders) or as two separate captain chairs with a center floor console between the two. The third row is a bench (for 2 riders). Comparatively, the Navigator comes standard with seating for eight (two rear bench seats at 3 riders each).

Interior comforts

Lincoln does a nice job of spoiling their passengers. The Aviators satin nickel-theme interior is every bit as elegant as what you would find in a luxury sedan: American burl walnut wood trim, creamy leather upholstery and white instrument lighting.

In the center of the dash is the signature Lincoln clock: an analog timepiece with a bone-colored backing and silver roman numerals and hands. Further adding to the Aviators upscale style is performance-glazed glass that absorbs noise and impacts much better than conventional tempered glass, a DVD entertainment system, HID headlights, a navigation system, a stability control system and rear-seat climate control.

Two trims

You can order your Aviator two ways: Luxury or Ultimate. Luxury models arrive equipped with dual-zone climate control, a CD player, leather upholstery, adjustable pedals and rear park assist. Opt for the higher end Ultimate (last year this trim was dubbed premium) and youll find yourself surrounded by heated and cooled seats, in-dash CD changer, 17-inch wheels and HID headlamps. Options for both include a sunroof, DVD entertainment system, DVD-based navigation system and a trailer hitch. With second row bucket seats and a third row bench, the Aviator can accommodate six (note: the third row is best suited for small kids) or opt for a bench seat in the second row to increase the capacity to seven.

New for 2004

Because the Aviator debuted in 2003, the changes for this year include just a few features, such as the addition of Roll Stability Control to the optional Advance Trac stability system to prevent rollovers during sudden maneuvers. The previously optional tire-pressure monitoring system is now standard and Sirius Satellite Radio is optional on both the Luxury and Ultimate models.

True, mid-size luxury SUVs have been around for quite some time. The market is tight, but there’s always room for one more especially when it comes wrapped in such a well-engineered and attractive package.

Even with its fashionably late arrival, the Lincoln feels as seasoned as an old pro. There aren’t any kinks to iron out and the learning curve is flat. If you’ve been comparison shopping among the elite mid-size SUVs the deciding factor just may be the bottom line. Fully loaded, the Aviator is less expensive than a comparable BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz ML500.

2004 Lincoln Aviator

Engine Type4.6L double overhead cam (DOHC) 32 valve V8
Horsepower302 @ 5,750
Torque300 @ 3,250
Fuel RecommendedPremium  Unleaded.
Transmission Std.5-speed Automatic
Drive TypeRear Wheel Drive (All-wheel drive Optional)
TiresP245/65HR17 all-season tires
Overall Length193.3″
Wheelbase113.7″
Width76″
Turning Diameter40.5 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight4,805 lbs.
Fuel Tank22.5 Gals.
Miles Per Gallon13 mpg City, 19 mpg Highway
Base Sticker Price$40,290.00   Plus $740 Destination Charge.

Standard Equipment
(partial list)

Ultimate style also includes…
(partial list)

Major Available Options
(partial list)

For more information on the Lincoln Aviator, visit www.lincolnvehicles.com.

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Author

Michele Brooke

Automotive Expert

Michele began writing auto reviews in 2001 for a daily newspaper in Louisiana. She graduated with a MBA in finance but left the financial world for an exciting career in auto journalism. She can now be found tooling around town test-driving new cars.

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