The Lincoln Aviator was a mid-size sport utility vehicle (SUV) produced by the Ford Motor Company's Lincoln luxury division. It was introduced in 2003, and production ended in 2005. The Aviator was built exclusively at Ford's St. Louis Assembly plant in Hazelwood, Missouri. Its competitors included the Cadillac SRX, Lexus GX (launched at the same time as the Aviator), and Infiniti FX.
Prices for the Aviator ranged from US$39,940 for the base RWD model to US$42,890 for the AWD model. It was available only with a 4.6L DOHC V8, 302hp (225kW) gasoline engine.
Lincoln played up the similarity to the Navigator with magazine ads that read, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Especially when it's yourself you're imitating." The Aviator seemed to have been met with relatively positive press coverage.
While the Aviator's styling borrowed cues from its big brother, the Navigator, it didn't look much different from the very widespread Ford Explorer that it was based on. Also working against the Aviator was that it was priced similar to the larger and relatively popular Ford Expedition. (The Navigator, based on and priced above the Expedition, was priced similarly to the Ford Excursion, but the Excursion was rare so the comparison did work not against the Navigator, whereas the Aviator was frequently compared to the Expedition and Explorer.) Indeed, Car and Driver magazine said in a comparison test, in which the Aviator tied for fifth place, that only the car's high price and lack of certain features held it out of contention for the top spots.
Despite the initial praise, the Aviator was a poor seller for Lincoln—with many hypothesizing that its all-too-familiar looks were to blame—and was quickly discontinued in August 2005. Originally, the Aviator was supposed to be on hiatus for the 2006 model year and reappear based on the CD3 platform the next year. However, Ford scrapped the Aviator name, and the car has been replaced by the Lincoln MKX mid-size crossover SUV, which was unveiled at the 2006 North American International Auto Show and went on sale in December 2006 as a 2007 model. Even though the Aviator only had a V8 engine, the MKX only has a V6, and the MKX doesn't properly replace the Aviator. Some[who?] argue that the Ford Flex-based Lincoln MKT is the proper Aviator replacement.