Lincoln Aviator Forecasts An Elegant Three-Row Plug-In Hybrid

Presented at the New York Auto Show (right in arch-rival Cadillac’s backyard) is the new Lincoln Aviator, forecasting a new SUV to revive a nameplate we last saw a baker’s dozen years ago.

A three-row SUV that’s sits under the Navigator

Like its predecessor, the three-row sport-ute would slot in underneath the larger Navigator. Only this time, the Aviator is far more than a gussied-up Explorer. In fact it’s not even based on the same platform. As few technical details as Ford’s premium division has released on the sport-ute concept, it emphatically notes the rear-drive setup, where the current Explorer is built atop a front-drive platform.

It’s a plug-in hybrid

In a first for the brand, the Aviator incorporates a plug-in hybrid powertrain – albeit of unspecified parameters. All we know is that the internal-combustion part is twin-turbocharged, so our best guess is a V6. And Ford doesn’t currently offer a V6-based PHEV. (The hybrid versions of the C-Max and Fusion use a 2.0-liter four.)

Atop those rear-drive, plug-in hybrid building blocks, Lincoln has adapted the Navigator’s clean and elegant design to the smaller form. The show car is painted an iridescent shade of Flight Blue, with glossy black and chrome trim. And the luxurious interior is done up in Shearling Beige and Lunar Gray, with digital instruments and machine-turned aluminum trim drive home the aeronautical theme.

Dearborn has taken the opportunity to pack the show car (or truck) with all its latest electronic gizmos, from a 12-inch infotainment display running the latest Sync system and a smartphone-based key to the Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver-assist technologies and a suspension that scans the road ahead and adjusts the ride accordingly.

“We believe Aviator’s elegant design, state-of-the-art technology and refined plug-in hybrid option will draw even more clients to the Lincoln showroom,” said Lincoln president (and Ford marketing chief) Joy Falotico, “including families who are looking for three-row capability.” We’d say that about sums it up, and we’re looking forward to seeing how the concept translates into production form when it goes on sale sometime next year.

* Gallery updated with live images from NY

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