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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Lincoln Aviator Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Lincoln Aviator Overview

Your Slightly Smaller Navigator Has Landed

If you love the look of the Lincoln Navigator, you are not alone; quite a few Americans do. But the Navigator is the top-of-the-line Lincoln and you've got a mortgage and two growing kids and that shrinking 401K to worry about. If it were just a bit more within reach and a little less bulky so the other half wouldn't complain about parking it, man you'd be all over that Lincoln like a cheap suit. Well my friend, your lucky day has arrived, because now Lincoln has created a smaller, more personal SUV that is the spitting image of the full-sized Navigator, but with a base sticker price starting below $40K. If you'll direct your attention to the photo's above, we'd like to welcome you to the new Lincoln Aviator. Please fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a long, luxurious ride.

As you can see, the Aviator really does look like a scale version of the Navigator and it is a bit difficult to tell the two apart until you park them side by side. Based on the all-new Ford Explorer platform, the Aviator is in no way a "small" SUV; it can fit up to seven passengers and has a maximum tow rating of 7300 pounds. The Aviator is also one of the most versatile SUVs in its class, with numerous seating configurations, including second-row captain's chairs and fold-flush third-row seat. From the outside, you can see that many of Lincoln's signature styling cues have been artfully integrated into the Aviator's design, including the massive chrome grille, large rectangular flag mirrors (with built-in turn signals and puddle lamps) and HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlamps. The side running boards have been molded into the body cladding, but do not electrically extend to greet you, as on the Navigator. Around back, a large rear hatch features a flip-up rear window, useful when loading smaller items.

The Aviator's interior also mimics the Navigator, and looks just as fresh and lavish. The dash is reminiscent of the classic dual-cowl dash of the 1961 Continental and looks particularly attractive in its two-tone Espresso and Light Parchment color scheme. The center console is painted in a lustrous satin-nickel finish with a large panel door that closes to cover the audio and optional navigation screen. All the instruments and switchgear—even the steering wheel mounted controls—are backlit by white LEDs, which make for a brilliant light show at night. The LED technology is extremely sharp and clear, making it easy to decipher the controls in the dark. The seats are covered in supple leather trim, mirrored on the door panels, steering wheel and shift knob. A rich panel of American Walnut Burl (or Zebrano if you order the Ash colored interior) surrounds the passenger compartment. The Aviator scores high with such nice touches as its automatic dual-zone climate control, illuminated entry and AM/FM stereo with in-dash 6-disc CD changer. We did find it odd that the convenient one-touch up/down power window control was found only at the driver's door; in this price and class, this feature really should be at all four windows.

The front captain's chairs are very comfortable, having a wider base and back than those found in the Explorer. Both the drivers and passenger seat feature a six-way power adjuster and there is standard electrically-adjustable foot pedals to help you find the perfect driving position. Rear seat passengers get a split-bench seat with folding armrest, but you can opt for another set of captain's chairs, so they can be as relaxed and comfortable as you. The fold-flush third-row seat can actually accommodate two adults without forcing their knees into their chests; but the seat is also narrow and not very comfortable for long trips. To ensure the safety of all its passengers, the Aviator comes standard with dual front and front and side curtain airbags.

On the road, you'll be rightfully impressed by the changes Lincoln has made to the base Explorer suspension. The Aviator uses an extensive amount of high-strength aluminum in the front and rear suspension components, as well as new springs and shocks. The combination delivers an amazingly smooth and quiet ride without separating the driver from the road; even expansion joints and deep potholes can't unsettle the Aviator. The steering has also been upgraded to provide good road feel with minimal effort required to turn the wheel; the new system is speed sensitive, meaning you get more assist in slower city driving where you need it and less when running at highway speed. Big 17-inch wheels and tires also help the Aviator to keep firmly planted during more spirited drives.

Power for the Aviator comes from a 302-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 engine. This motor pulls strongly at both low and high rpms and operates without vibration or growl; but take note, the V8 is not easy on the gas. Though base model Aviators can get along just fine with their standard two-wheel drive setup, those who need the added traction can opt for Lincoln's full-time AWD. Later in the model year, the more sophisticated AdvanceTrac electronic AWD system will be available as well.

In addition to its long list of standard features, you can opt to equip your Aviator with such high-line items as a DVD entertainment system, on-board navigation system, heated seats, a power moonroof and a tire pressure monitoring system.

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