The Lincoln Motor Company converged on the global headquarters of the New England Motor Press Association last night, a.k.a., Bugsy’s Garage. Lincoln brought out three executives and PR personnel to overview the significant transformation the company is undergoing. Lincoln also brought three new 2020 Aviators, including one model not yet released for sale. The packed media group was unanimous in its agreement that the new Aviator line is impressive. The most impressive trim may well be the Grand Touring Plug-In Hybrid.
Lincoln is a company with a long history of creating outstanding vehicles. Over the past few decades, Lincoln’s prominence may have waned, but as of late, the company has clearly turned a corner. Sales leaped in August. Overall sales were up by double digits and individual models were up by as much as 33%. In other key luxury markets, Lincoln is also doing very well. What is most interesting about this is that Lincoln has only just started to revamp its product portfolio and marketing plan.
Lincoln now works with four guiding principles. They are Beauty, Gliding, Human, and Sanctuary. These attributes will guide the company’s product direction, and the new Aviator is a perfect example of how these principles can help to shape a vehicle.
Lincoln is also revamping its dealerships' facilities. Lincoln’s customers and other shoppers in the luxury CUV and sedan business want stand-alone dealerships that feel like special places. Hence, Lincoln and its dealers are changing the physical spaces at which Lincoln presents its portfolio of products. Lexus underwent a similar transformation, and the results were positive.
However, Lincoln knows that once a new customer is an owner, they don’t want to see that dealership again until it is time to shop for another vehicle. To that end, Lincoln is now offering pickup and delivery of Lincoln vehicles (purchased in the past couple of model years). A Lincoln associate arrives with a vehicle, picks up the owner’s vehicle and leaves a vehicle for the owner to drive. The owner’s vehicle is then returned once the service is complete. Over a quarter-million pick-up and deliveries have been completed thus far, and the dealers who have opted-in report positive results. Lincoln refers to this as “Giving back time” to owners. Tesla and Genesis both offer similar programs.
2020 Lincoln Aviator
The new Aviator is a roomy, three-row crossover utility vehicle built to satisfy the expectations of a luxury shopper. To our eye, the new Aviator certainly embodies the principle of “Beauty.” Although we only had a short ride in the new plug-in hybrid trim, it most definitely embodies the “Glide” and “Sanctuary” aspect of Lincoln’s new goals. The “Human” aspect refers to making the products real-world useful and eliminating clutter in the cabin that has no meaningful reason to be there. A full week of testing will help answer whether this goal is achieved, but the controls we did use while on our short drive such as the piano-key drive mode selectors and door-mounted seat controls all seemed very intuitive and natural to operate.
Aviator Quick Facts
We will dive more deeply into the Aviator when we test it, but the vehicle checks off a lot of boxes for its segment. It features a rear-drive architecture, air-ride suspension, the most standard power in its class, and the plug-in hybrid has an incredible 630 lb-feet of torque and just under 500 hp. All Aviators can tow over 5,000 pounds, some trims much more. All three trims have the same packaging, passenger space, cargo volume, and spare tire. The hybrid's battery and motor take away nothing from the space inside the vehicle. Lincoln has very carefully packaged the Aviator such that interior is roomy, but so too is cargo space. There is no compromise. This is not a high-volume segment, but it is a high-profit segment. Lincoln looks to have a very viable vehicle here. Initial sales indicate a 50% conquest rate with BMW and Mercedes customers topping of the list of brands from which new customers are coming to Lincoln.
About Those Lincoln Matthew McConaughey Advertisements
Lincoln is not planning a head-to-head battle with BMW, Mercedes, and Audi over whose luxury CUV has the best track times. That whole concept is now tired, silly, and juvenile. You will soon see a clever, well-made advertisement featuring actor Matthew McConaughey (True Detective, Dallas Buyers’ Club) that well illustrates how Lincoln sees its products breaking through the noise in this segment.
In addition to covering green vehicle topics, John Goreham covers safety, technology, and new vehicle news at Torque News. You can follow John on Twitter at @johngoreham.