Return to form. The 2022 Lincoln Aviator is a pint-sized Navigator in the best way possible. While the SUV has plenty of power, it puts comfort and smoothness above all else. If that sounds familiar, it’s almost like Lincoln returned to its glory days, but in SUV form.

With sumptuous interior materials and a stylish design, the Aviator looks nothing like the Ford Explorer that it’s based on. Lincoln’s done a great job with sound deadening and engineering the Aviator to remain quiet at highway speeds, resulting in a hushed cabin that lets passengers enjoy the ride. Speaking of the ride, the Aviator’s cushy ride absorbs bumps incredibly well, further increasing the SUV’s comfort.

While the Aviator has three rows of seating, the third row is cramped and best left for kids. There is some good news, as the first two rows of seats are spectacularly comfortable. The front seats are available with 30-way adjustments and the available second-row captain’s chairs are just as cozy as the front seats. Available features like heated and ventilated front- and second-row seats, massaging front seats, and excellent audio systems also help the Aviator feel like a true luxury vehicle that can compete with Europe’s finest.

Stick with the V6. Lincoln offers the Aviator with two engines, one of which is a nifty plug-in hybrid. The standard engine isn’t a pushover, offering 400 horsepower from a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine. Available with either rear- or all-wheel drive and a 10-speed automatic transmission, the standard V6 operates effortlessly. When pushed hard, the V6 engine can get noisy.

Grand Touring trims come with a plug-in hybrid powertrain that consists of the same twin-turbo engine but adds an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack for 494 hp. The plug-in hybrid powertrain adds extra weight, which slows shifts. In its all-electric mode, the plug-in hybrid powertrain offers up to 21 miles of range.

While it’s nice to see Lincoln offer the Aviator with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, we think that most consumers will prefer the standard engine. The plug-in hybrid is a $16,895 upgrade over the standard turbocharged engine and isn’t worth the cost unless you’re able to take full advantage of the 21-mile all-electric range.

Packed with tech. In addition to being a cushy, comfortable luxury vehicle, the Aviator comes loaded with technology. The SUV’s list of standard equipment includes a 10.1-inch touchscreen, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hot spot, navigation, and four USB ports.

Anyone would be happy with the Aviator’s standard list of features, but higher trims add more upscale amenities. Moving up the ladder opens the door to a wireless charging pad, a head-up display, a rear entertainment system, and a 28-speaker Revel audio system that fills the cabin with rich sound.

The Aviator’s list of safety features is just as impressive. Only a handful of safety features are optional, including adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, rear collision warning, hands-free park assist, and a surround-view camera. Other than that, every other modern feature is standard. A lot of the SUV’s standard safety features are part of the Co-Pilot360 suite.

One of our favorite tech features with the Aviator is the available smartphone app that lets owners remotely lock and unlock their SUV. It comes incredibly handy when you don’t remember if you locked the vehicle and also reminds you about upcoming services and other vehicle parameters.

Stylish without going overboard. One of the Aviator’s best qualities is just how gorgeous it is. The SUV doesn’t look to the past for retro cues or attempt to be an overly futuristic SUV. Instead, it’s simple, with straightforward and clean lines. The exterior design wows you, while the interior design keeps you hooked.

While the Aviator’s starting price of $52,560 (with destination) is average for the segment, higher trim levels turn the SUV into a pricey luxury vehicle. The range-topping Black Label models are downright expensive for what you get, starting at $80,445 and going up to $89,000 for the Black Label Grand Touring. While these trims feel extravagant, they have the price tags to match.

Final thoughts. Lincoln was going through a rough patch a few years ago but is back in full swing by doing what it does best, focusing on luxury and comfort. The 2022 Lincoln Aviator channels Lincoln’s best vehicle — the Navigator — to help the brand enter a new era. With an upscale cabin, powerful engines, impressive tech features, and a lavish cabin, the Aviator feels every bit as luxurious as its competitors.

The Genesis GV80 is a standout option in the class. It’s an excellent value option, has an opulent interior, comes with high-tech features, and is a serious flagship SUV. For consumers looking for a safe SUV, there’s the Volvo XC90. It’s packed with safety features, has an upscale cabin, is available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, and is also a comfort-forward option.

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