Lincoln has reintroduced its Aviator SUV for 2020. This new three-row luxury SUV is spacious, comfortable, and at the forefront of the brand's efforts to introduce more attractive and desirable vehicles. To find out how far Lincoln has come, Edmunds has compared the Aviator to its top-ranked midsize three-row luxury SUV, the 2019 Audi Q7.
The Q7 boasts impressive technology and safety features plus a quiet and user-friendly interior. So which one is better for your daily driving, and which offers better value and more equipment?
The Q7 and the Aviator are almost exactly the same length, but the Q7 is a bit narrower from side to side and a bit shorter at the roof. These proportions translate into a slight cargo space advantage for the Aviator. It has 18.3 cubic feet of space behind its third-row seat compared to the Q7's 14.2 cubic feet.
From there, the Aviator edges out the Q7 in pretty much every other interior space measurement, including headroom, legroom and shoulder room. That's also true for the storage of small items such as water bottles and smartphones. The differences are small, but the Lincoln wins this round.
The Lincoln Aviator's cabin looks and feels premium upon initial inspection. But take a closer look and you'll find the Aviator uses some cheaper-looking materials, such as piano-black plastic that is susceptible to smudges and fingerprints. The Q7 offers slightly higher-quality materials. Both cabins are relatively plush, but the Q7 has the advantage here.
STANDARD AND OPTIONAL FEATURES
At the base trim levels, the Q7 and the Aviator are comparably equipped. Both have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, tri-zone automatic climate control, and warning and mitigation systems for imminent front collisions.
The Lincoln is all-new, and you'll find plenty of the latest interior technology. One highlight is the 10.1-inch center touchscreen that operates the audio and navigation functions. The system is visually appealing and quick to respond to commands, but smartphone connectivity suffers from a few usability issues.
Audi's MMI infotainment interface in the Q7 has been around for a few years (a new system will soon replace it), but it's user-friendly. Despite the smaller 8.3-inch display, it's the system we prefer. The driver aids such as adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring work better too, setting off fewer false positives and intruding less on the driving experience.
PRICING AND POWER
The Aviator undercuts the Q7 slightly, with a lower base price of $52,195 compared to the Q7's $54,545 (both prices include destination fees). The Aviator has a few extra standard safety features that are optional on the Q7, such as blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and lane keeping assist. The Q7's price does, however, include all-wheel drive. On the Lincoln, it's optional.
As you move your way up the trim levels, things progress pretty evenly with both SUVs. The Aviator comes standard with an impressive turbocharged V6 engine that produces 400 horsepower. The Audi's base engine is a more modest turbocharged four-cylinder good for 248 horsepower. Even though the Aviator is more powerful, it gets nearly the same fuel economy as the Audi: 21 mpg in combined city/highway driving for the rear-wheel-drive version.
At the top of the model lineup, the Aviator is available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain that adds more power and some all-electric driving range. The Q7 graduates to a supercharged 3.0-liter V6. A mild hybrid system is expected for future Q7 models, but for now, the V6 is what we've got.
The Aviator with the hybrid powertrain is more expensive than a top-trim Q7, but the Q7 lets you select the options you want rather than bundling them together as the Lincoln does. With the Lincoln, topped-out pricing hovers around $91,000, while the Audi can peak as high as $95,000 if you check all the boxes.
In the battle of standard and optional features, it's nearly neck and neck, though Audi makes it easier for buyers to customize their vehicles with specific features.
The Aviator is well-suited to long highway trips thanks to its comfortable seats and smooth ride. It's not a particularly athletic SUV when going around corners, however. The Q7, which is also an impressive highway cruiser, feels more nimble. Corners come easier, and the steering wheel provides more feedback for the drive. These qualities can make a big difference if you're looking for a bit of driving fun in your SUV.
EDMUNDS SAYS: Lincoln gets credit for building a new SUV that can rival the world's best. And for the right buyer, the Aviator's stronger performance and slightly roomier interior are definite advantages. But the Q7 has fewer drawbacks overall and is the better bet for the typical luxury SUV shopper.