We Are Making the Transition to Cleaner Energy: A Look at the 2021 Lincoln Aviator Black Label Grand Touring SUV
Some of you might recall that it was around five years ago when I wrote about us finally giving in and buying a new car – a 2016 Jaguar XJL AWD Portfolio edition, on which we got a great deal. In that post, I mentioned that I hoped to not have to think about cars for another decade. As many of you wrote me or told me in person when coming through Southern California pre-pandemic, preparing to have two kids changes everything.
Nearly every parent with whom we came into contact told us that Aaron and I were going to need two vehicles in case one of us went to the office while the other worked from home or we needed to be in different places at the same time for one reason or another. They were also adamant that we would want either an SUV, a cross-over, or a mini-van, which would make dealing with strollers and other supplies much easier thanks to lots of room and fold-down backrow storage.
Last November, we were making a list of things we needed to get done before the first of the two babies were born. We wanted to give ourselves plenty of time, thinking that doing a little here and there after hours would be far easier to handle given the work load we had at Kennon-Green & Co. As part of that planning, we decided to take advantage of the wisdom of crowds, trusting those who had been through this journey before us, and pick up a second car.
This time around things were different. The world was shut down due to a pandemic. We didn’t have time to search for an incredible bargain like we did the last time we went through this process nor did we want to spend a lot of time at car dealerships given the health risks. Rather, we needed to identify something we liked and that we felt was an especially good value in terms trade-offs, locking it down ruthlessly and efficiently before moving on to the next item on our task list.
We considered a wide range of automobiles, running the gamut from a Ford Explorer to a Honda Odyssey, a Mercedes G Wagon to a Bentley Bentayga. We looked at SUVs from Audi, Porsche, BMW, Infiniti, Land Rover, Volvo, Jeep, and Lexus.
The field was narrowed, quickly, due to Aaron’s insistence that whatever we chose had to mark the start of our household’s transition to clean energy, meaning the engine needed to use either electric, hydrogen, or hybrid technology. Next, we found that after having enjoyed the quality of the Jaguar XJL for years, it truly did make it hard to select anything not at least near that level of interior trim, reducing the field even more. We looked at crash test results and color options, manufacturing location and fuel efficiency tax rebates. Some exclusions were model-specific, such as the well-reported issues involving the design of the Tesla Model X falcon wing doors if you are ever caught in the rain.
Ultimately, through a process of exclusion, we settled upon an answer: The 2021 Lincoln Aviator Black Label Grand Touring SUV in Flight Blue exterior with Chalet interior. It took around four months for the car to be delivered but it is finally here.
The short version: We love it despite a few issues that I’ll discuss later in this post.
Understanding Lincoln’s Current Fleet Lineup
Lincoln’s current of cars centers around four SUV models of various sizes that corresponded with other popular SUV sizes on the market. These cars would have modern, streamlined designs, better technology, and higher-quality finishes.
- The Lincoln Navigator – The largest SUV of the bunch with seating for up to 8 people.
- The Lincoln Aviator – A more manageable, sportier version of the Lincoln Navigator with seating for up to 7 people. At 199.3″ long, it is similar to the size profile of a Ford Explorer, which is 198.8″ long.
- The Lincoln Nautilus – A smaller SUV with seating for up to 5 people. It is comparable in size to a Ford Edge.
- The Lincoln Corsair – A crossover vehicle with seating for up to 5 people. It is comparable in size to a Ford Escape.
The Lincoln Continental and Lincoln MKZ four-door sedans got the axe in 2020. Thus, the company which introduced the first full-size luxury SUV in the United States when it launched the Lincoln Navigator decades ago has completed its transition to a pure SUV brand.
The Different Levels of Lincoln Trim
Using that framework, Lincoln then created several tiers within the SUV models allowing the consumer to choose the level of luxury he or she wanted. The four tiers are:
- Standard – These are the baseline specs for any given vehicle
- Reserve – An upgraded experience with more features and luxury
- Black Label – The highest tier of Lincoln’s luxury offerings which include even better features, exclusive paint choices, and service benefits such as front-door pickup and courtesy vehicles during maintenance, car washes, etc. meant to make life easier for busy professionals and/or parents whose time is valuable.
- Black Label Grand Touring – The Black Label tier vehicle with added plug-in hybrid technology for those who want to dramatically reduce their gasoline usage.
The Pre-Selected Themes for Black Label Lincoln Aviators
If a person opts for the top-of-the-line Black Label option, there are three themes from which to choose.
The Flight Theme – The Flight Theme is “Inspired by the heyday of aviation, the exterior and interior have been designed to feel like you’re taking to the skies.” The hammered metal access, soft brown leathers … it feels very Charles Lindbergh / Amelia Earheart to us.
The Destination Theme – The Destination theme features “Diamond weave perforated leather seat inserts combined with khaya wood appliques”.
The Chalet Theme – The Chalet Theme is “inspired by long weekends in the Swiss Alps” with “trim [that] envelopes you in warm tones while the cool leather recalls the rush of a downhill run”.
There are other Black Label themes on different vehicles. For example, there is the “Yacht Club” blue interior on the Lincoln Navigator that is interesting.
A Look Inside the 2021 Lincoln Aviator Black Label Grand Touring Hybrid Model in Flight Blue with Chalet Interior
The best video I could find showing you what our model looks like is one of the identically-equipped 2020 model.
Initial Thoughts and Experience with the Lincoln Aviator
Driving the Lincoln Aviator is easy. It offers a lot of room yet still manages to feel responsive and reasonably nimble. The hybrid system is also amazing. When the dealership dropped off the car, it hadn’t, yet, had time to charge the electric battery since we wanted it as quickly as possible. This meant when we took it out for the first time, we were driving it like an ordinary SUV …
… then later, that evening, we hooked it up to one of the charging stations in Newport Beach.
Earlier today, when needed to run to the Kennon-Green & Co. offices for something that had to be done in person rather than remotely, I took a video of the car automatically switching between electric and gasoline to maximize efficiency. Here was most of the commute (shortly after the 3 minute and 15 second mark, you can see the driveway into which we usually turn to go to work and the building in which our office is located) …
Once we pulled into the office parking garage, we were able to use one of the spots reserved for electric vehicles, recharging as we ran upstairs. (I cannot tell you how much we love our office. Every time we’re back, we feel a sense of normalcy. Signing the lease and committing to the expansion was the last thing we did before the world fell apart so returning to it, and picking back up where we left off, will be a major milestone. Prudence, though, dictates that we avoid the place until we are both at full immunity via vaccination.)
We are really pleased with the Lincoln Aviator. It’s not perfect – a lot of this is due to an unfair comparison to the Jaguar which slightly wins out in a lot of areas – but most of our complaints are minor inconveniences. For example:
- The rearview mirror does not tilt high enough up for people of our height, requiring us to lower the seat a bit to compensate
- The passenger side seat inexplicably has no three-seat memory setting
- Battery technology still needs to improve. The electric vehicle range is only around twenty miles, which is more than enough for daily commutes. It’d be a total gamechanger if you could go 400+ miles with this thing, though.
- The glove box is old-school with a latch and key (rather than a touch and auto-lock like the Jaguar)
- The cabin interior, while quiet, isn’t as quiet as the Jaguar
Still, we feel these shortcomings are more than made up for by the advantages such as fuel efficiency and a much better touchscreen system. It will also be nice when the kids are a bit older if other family members want to go with us to Disneyland or a restaurant, allowing us to all ride together. That has enormous utility.