Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Like millions of Netflix viewers, my wife and I recently finished watching season five of The Crown. The story has moved into the early-mid 1990s and so the royals as well as the lawyers and BBC television executives are being chauffeured about in gorgeous then-new Mercedes-Benz S-Classes, Bentley Brooklands and round-headlamped Jaguar XJ6 saloons. And that's when it hit me. I miss those cars. More to the point, I miss that era's interpretation of luxury. At the time, I was in my late 30s and much more interested in sports cars---but with the success of Mercedes-AMG and BMW M, a lot of that performance-car ethic has trickled down into today's mainstream luxury vehicles. There's a lot of Nurburgring fantasies going on in the cockpits of today's top luxury cars. And maybe it's an illustration of the problem that I default to the word "cockpit" instead of "cabin", too. I wondered aloud to my wife if the type of luxury I was suddenly nostalgic for was gone forever---killed by the automotive tastes of----well, guys like me 30 years ago.
And then, three days after the season finale, a 2022 Lincoln Aviator AWD Black Label Grand Touring was left in my driveway. It was on my calendar. I knew it was coming. But for whatever reason, we don't see a lot of Lincolns in the press fleet. The last Lincoln I drove was the 2020 Corsair AWD Reserve, almost two and a half years ago. Before that? Three and a half years ago on the old TireKicker site---the 2019 Nautilus Black Label. And before that, almost four and a half years ago, the 2018 Navigator Black Label.
I drive 104 cars a year for a week at a time, plus another ten or 11 for half an hour each at Western Automotive Journalists' Media Days every year. I had forgotten what the inside of a modern Lincoln was like. And then I walked out to the Aviator and opened the door.
Plush burgundy leather with contrasting stitching. Substantial knobs with brightwork and dark wood. THIS is what I was talking about.
But the Aviator is far more than an exercise in old-school style. Choose the Grand Touring model, like our tester, and you get a plug-in hybrid powerplant combining a 3.0-liter V6 gasoline engine with an electric motor that provides 21 miles of pure electric range per charge before switching over to a gasoline/electric hybrid that gets an EPA-estimated combined city/highway 23 mpg. If the range and the fuel economy figures sound a bit on the light side, they are, and it's because Lincoln, like most premium brands, has opted to use the hybrid to create serious power---494 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 runs happen in five seconds flat.
Both the cargo area and rear seats are spacious and well-trimmed.
Standard Aviator prices begin at $54,535 (destination included), but to get the full-luxe treatment you see here and the plug-in hybrid requires saying yes to the top-of-the-line Aviator AWD Black Label Grand Touring. And that price is $89,425.
Got your breath back yet? Yeah, a nearly $35,000 jump from the bottom rung to the top of the ladder on the same basic vehicle is pretty substantial. But to Lincoln's credit, it's very close to a one-price deal---the only extra-cost option on the test vehicle was $500 for a Class IV trailer towing package. So the as-tested price of the 2022 Lincoln Aviator AWD Black Label Grand Touring is $89,925.
I'll just say this---if I hadn't told you, you'd never know that there was a $54,000 version of the same basic vehicle. The 2022 Lincoln Aviator AWD Black Label Grand Touring absolutely looks and feels the part of a $90,000 premium SUV. It could stand more pure electric range, even if that means dialing the power back a bit (how many buyers of this vehicle are looking to smoke someone at a stoplight?), but overall, the Aviator AWD Black Label Grand Touring is an extremely desirable vehicle.