Lincoln’s Aviator SUV will return to replace the MKT, Navigator will get aluminum body

The Lincoln of the early- to mid-2000s didn’t pump out many “winner” models, and the Aviator SUV was no exception. Produced from 2002 to 2005, the Aviator was based on a Ford Explorer, and besides alternative body panels and some extra leather in the cabin, it was just a more expensive Ford Explorer.

Lincoln is no longer the same automaker, with attractive new models like the MKC crossover and plans for more luxurious and stylish vehicles down the road. In an effort to scrub off the past, Lincoln will reportedly introduce a new Aviator SUV. This news is backed up by the fact that Lincoln just filed a patent for the Aviator nameplate, which it had previously let go.

The new Aviator, like its predecessor, would be based on the Ford Explorer, but unlike before, it’s expected to be almost a completely different vehicle inside and out. Obviously the chassis and Sync 3 infotainment system will carry over, but expect a far more luxurious cabin, even than the new Ford Explorer Platinum, and an exterior that matches styling cues from recent Lincoln models.

The new Aviator won’t just be an add-on model, either, as Lincoln plans to replace the MKT crossover with the new SUV. Ford also won’t make a new generation of the Flex, which shares its platform with the MKT.

If you’re wondering where the “Aviator” name fits in with Lincoln’s MK-naming scheme, don’t be confused. Ford Executive Vice President Joe Hinrichs hinted that Lincoln might strip the MK nameplates to instead utilize Lincoln’s heritage. Therefore, look for full vehicle names to replace the letters going forward.

Lincoln hasn’t confirmed which “two new vehicles” the U.S. automaker would add to its lineup, but the Aviator will almost certainly be one of them.

In related news, the next-generation Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator will apparently adopt aluminum bodies like the 2015 F-150 to shed weight and improve fuel economy. Both SUVs are also expected to gain 10-speed automatic transmissions.