2020 Lincoln Aviator 450-hp PHEV will get its own exterior visual cues

Lincoln will brand its powerful plug-in version of the new Aviator crossover as a GT hybrid package with a few distinguishing visual cues when it goes on sale next summer. The luxury PHEV crossover will do battle with competitors like the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, Volvo XC90 T8 and BMW’s (incredibly long-winded) X5 xDrive45e iPerformance.

The “GT” designation harkens to the golden era of grand touring and is meant to convey the combination of high performance and comfort over long distances. “It’s really trying to get at how Lincoln is redefining luxury performance,” said Brad Jager, the Aviator brand manager.

The hybrid system will deliver 450 horsepower and a whopping 600 pound-feet of torque, which are increases of 50 hp and 200 lb-ft over the pure combustion version powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6. Lincoln isn’t releasing expected electric-only range or fuel economy, and it’s keeping most of the details of the hybrid system under wraps for now. It has said you’ll also be able to hold the charge to be deployed later, such as for short trips in town.

Lincoln is, however, making a few subtle exterior changes to designate the GT hybrid setup, which will be offered in the higher-end GT and Black Label trim models (the entry-level Aviator and Reserve models will be available only in gasoline combustion versions). First are changes to the Lincoln star badge on the grille and Aviator badge on the side flanks, which fill in with a blue color borrowed from the original Lincoln V12 badge from the 1930s and ’40s — a neat touch on a vehicle that is reviving a nameplate. The grille itself is also an inversion of the new Lincoln treatment appearing on models like the Navigator and Nautilus. So where the grilles on those models have cutouts, the GT hybrid grille has protruding shapes that dissipate the further away they are from the center badge. Lastly, the PHEV will come with 21-inch wheels instead of the 22-inchers that equip non-hybrid versions.

Lincoln says it designed the rear-wheel-drive architecture with the Aviator in mind, allowing the battery to go underneath the passenger-side second-row seats and maximizing interior space. Engineers also fit an electric motor between the V6 engine and the 10-speed automatic transmission.

Lincoln hasn’t announced pricing on the Aviator, which goes on sale next summer, and the plug-in hybrid versions will obviously command a premium. But Lincoln is hopeful that the option will prove popular; Jager says the initial public response to the output figures of the PHEV have been encouraging.

And while we don’t yet know the specs and performance of the hybrid system, we can look to the competition for some precedent. The 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid combines a 3.0-liter V6 and an electric motor to offer a combined 455 hp, 516 lb-ft of torque and an electric-only driving range of 27 miles. It uses a 14.1 kWh battery. BMW’s forthcoming 2021 X5 xDrive45e iPerformance will pair a new 3.0-liter inline-six and an electric motor for a total of 394 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Driving range using only the battery will improve to roughly 50 miles. Lastly, the Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid uses a 10.4 kWh battery, electric motors and supercharged four-cylinder engine to make 400 hp and 472 lb-ft, with an all-electric range of around 25 miles. We should know the Aviator’s numbers fairly soon.

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