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Old 03-27-2002, 10:37   #1 (permalink)
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Lincolns new SUV........

2002 New York: Lincoln shakes up luxo-ute segment with high-powered Aviator

Ford Motor Co.ís luxury arm, Lincoln, is pinning much of its strategy on a new sport-utility itís calling Aviator.

The mid-sized luxo-ute will compete with the likes of Acura MDX, Lexus RX300 and Infiniti QX4, all of which come with a base price tag in the mid-$30,000 range. Lincoln has not announced pricing for the vehicle, which is slated to hit dealers this summer.

The Aviator is joined by three other new products Lincolnís rolling out this year -- Blackwood, a redesigned Navigator and an updated Town Car Ė as part of its effort to freshen the brand. Lincolnís head, Brian Kelly, says that customers should expect Lincoln to introduce additional products in the future.

For the Aviator, Lincoln didnít have to look far for inspiration. It shares design cues from the Explorer, sporting the same 113.7-inch wheelbase and third-row seating.

Still, the Aviator is much more than a dressed up Explorer. Its 4.6-liter dohc V8 churns out 302-hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, whereas high-end Explorers come with a 4.6-liter sohc V8 capable of 240-hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Where Explorer gives customers the option of rear-wheel or four-wheel drive, Lincolnís Aviator comes with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. Lincoln anticipates 70 percent of buyers to choose all-wheel drive. Third-row seating is standard in the Lincoln, optional on Explorer. Aviatorís standard 17-inch treads compare with Explorerís 16-inchers, which come standard on all trim levels.

Aviator also has respectable numbers compared to the rest of the luxury SUV class. Aviatorís 4.6-liter V8 powerplant compares with MDXís 3.5-liter, 240-hp V6, RX300ís 3.0-liter 220-hp V6 and QX4ís 3.5-liter, 240-hp V6. Only Mercedes-Benz, with itís ML430, and BMW, with the X5, offer a V8 in a mid-sized luxury SUV.

The Aviator is to be built with fully independent suspension, 8.6-inches worth of ground clearance and 77 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
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