Lincoln is trying to move on from selling gussied-up Fords to making genuine luxury vehicles, so it’s focusing on one of the most important aspects of a luxury car: Ride quality. Lincoln’s new adaptive suspension system, debuting in the 2020 Aviator SUV, is one of the most sophisticated the brand has ever offered. It’s so smart, it can scan the road ahead for potholes and bumps and adjust settings accordingly.
The Aviator boasts an adaptive suspension system with optional air springs, which isn’t unusual in the luxury segment these days. The system relies on 12 sensors to monitor things like body motion, acceleration, and braking, as well as road conditions. They take readings 500 times per second and adjust suspension settings up to 100 times per second, according to Lincoln.
The way the Aviator’s suspension system uses data is what sets it apart. A “pothole mitigation” feature detects when a wheel is about to hit a pothole, and stiffens the shock absorber on that wheel to limit the distance it drops into the hole. That, in turn, lessens the severity of the impact.
The Aviator also gets a feature called “road preview,” which uses a front-facing camera mounted near the top of the windshield to read the road surface. It can scan nearly 50 feet ahead, detecting speed bumps, frost heaves, and other undulations between 2.0 inches and 8.0 inches in height, according to Lincoln. It then adjusts the suspension in order to keep the ride as smooth as possible, Lincoln claims.
Like other vehicles equipped with air springs, the Aviator can kneel while stationary — like a bus — to make entry/exit or the loading and unloading of cargo easier. At speeds above 70 mph, the Aviator hunkers down in “aero height” to improve aerodynamic efficiency. It’s unlikely that the average Aviator owner will take their vehicle off road, but the SUV does have a “deep conditions” mode that jacks up the ride height to clear obstacles.
The 2020 Lincoln Aviator shares a basic platform with the 2020 Ford Explorer, but Lincoln is working hard to differentiate it from the Ford. In addition to the adaptive suspension system, the Aviator also gets a model-specific plug-in hybrid powertrain making 450 horsepower, as well as a more upscale interior. As with the 2020 Lincoln Navigator, Aviator drivers can also use a smartphone in place of a traditional key fob. The 2020 Lincoln Aviator goes on sale later this summer, with pricing to be announced closer to launch.