She's Got Wheels

Conservative elegance - 2003 Lincoln Aviator SUV

As its first midsize luxury sport utility vehicle, Lincoln has answered the call for a more personal expression of upscale luxury. The all-new Lincoln Aviator offers consumers distinctive design and reassuring performance -- the first vehicle in what will become a renaissance of the domestic brand in the competitive luxury marketplace.

Built in St. Louis, Mo., the Aviator shares much of its running gear with the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer. Designed to complement the larger Navigator in the marque's lineup, the Aviator is offered in Luxury and Premium trim levels and powered by a refined 4.6L V-8 engine joined to a five-speed automatic transmission. The midsize Lincoln SUV is available in two- or full-time four-wheel drive configurations.

The Aviator is all about honest American luxury. Individualistic styling is accentuated by precise clean lines while fine attention to detail is combined with a sophisticatedly upscale appearance.

Lincoln engineers also developed a unique driving personality for this new SUV, along with the available AdvanceTrac traction and stability enhancement system and a long list of standard features designed to appeal to the independent-minded customer with discriminating taste.

On the road, the Aviator is powerful, quiet, smooth and responsive. Its bank vault construction is reassuring at speed. Body-on-frame construction serves as the foundation for the suspension hardware -- a four-wheel independent configuration that features a short-and long-arm setup with monotube dampers, coil springs and a stabilizer bar front and rear. Michelin Pilot LTX P245/65R17 tires communicate power to the ground.

The Navigator theme continues inside the cabin, embracing the same distinctive blend of Lincoln design cues -- satin nickel, American burl walnut wood, premium leather and white light-emitting-diode instrument lighting. Attention to the little details add up to big advantages.

Displays are large, well lit and easy to use. Exterior running boards facilitate entry and exit into the cabin as do hand grips in the "A" pillar (front passenger) and "B" pillar. Front seats are close to wide door openings and long front seat travel improves the seating position for taller and shorter drivers. A 40/20/40 second-row seat adds flexibility for carrying cargo and people -- allowing easy access to the third row seat.

In the rear, low lift over for the rear glass opening makes loading groceries and cargo easy. A standard third seat increases occupant carrying capacity to seven and is designed to fold flat for added versatility.

Quick vehicle stats

Wheelbase: 113.7; overall length: 193.3; width: 73.9; height: 70.9 -- measurements in inches

Engine: 4.6L V-8 -- 302 hp at 5,750 rpm and 300 lbs-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm

Transmission: Model 5R55S five-speed electronically controlled automatic

EPA fuel economy: 2WD -- 13 city/19 highway; 4WD -- 13 city/18 highway, using premium unleaded gasoline

Maximum cargo capacity: 77.3 cubic feet

Maximum payload: 1,247 pounds

Maximum towing: 7,300 pounds

Safety features

Four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, electronic brake force distribution, speed sensitive automatic locking, anti-theft alarm system, Securilock passive anti-theft system, fog lamps, dual front airbags, front/rear side curtain airbags, HomeLink universal transceiver, remote keyless entry, automatic headlamp control, reverse sensing system and full size spare tire. Premium adds high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps.

Optional safety features include vehicle stability enhancement system, tire pressure monitor and DVD-based navigation system.


Basic: 4 year/50,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper

Roadside assistance: 4 year/50,000 mile, 24-hour


The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2003 Lincoln Aviator SUV starts from $39,255 for the rear-drive Luxury up to $45,125 for the all-wheel drive Premium. Destination charges add $740.

As tested

2003 Lincoln Aviator Premium AWD SUV

Exterior color: Silver Birch Clearcoat Metallic

Interior color: Medium Ash

Base price $45,125

Destination charge $ 740

Power moonroof $ 1,515

Class III Trailer Towing Package $ 295

Total $47,675


About the Author

Ken Chester, Jr.

Ken Chester, Jr. is President & CEO of Motor News Media Corporation – an automotive news service founded in 1989 as The AutoBuyer Plus Corporation. Featured on numerous television and radio programs, viewers, listeners and readers alike relate to Ken's friendly manner and wealth of information about the many vehicles currently for sale in today's complex automotive marketplace.

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