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Lincoln brings back the Aviator after more than a decade — with a very different design

  • Lincoln is reintroducing the Aviator brand name after discontinuing it more than a decade ago.
  • The vehicle is aimed at people ages 35 to 44 starting new families, Lincoln said.
Lincoln Aviator
Robert Ferris | CNBC
Lincoln Aviator

After more than a decade in the dust-bin, Lincoln is resurrecting the mid-sized Aviator sport utility vehicle in a totally new form and aiming it squarely at well-to-do millennials starting families.

Ford's luxury brand gave reporters a preview of the new Aviator in Manhattan on Monday, days before the New York International Auto Show. The vehicle gives buyers another new option in a lineup increasingly focused on popular and profitable sport utility vehicles, crossovers, and trucks.

The new Aviator is a three-row SUV, like its predecessor, which was discontinued with the 2005 model year. It is built on a rear-wheel drive platform and will come with a twin turbo engine, and customers can also opt for a plug-in hybrid option.

Lincoln Aviator interior
Robert Ferris | CNBC
Lincoln Aviator interior

It has a wide body, long wheel-base, and a roof that slopes downward toward the back of the vehicle. The longer wheel-base also allows the vehicle to stay relatively spacious inside, John Emmert, Lincoln group marketing manager, told CNBC.

The Aviator's reintroduction follows the success of its larger sibling, the Navigator, which was completely redesigned for the 2018 model year, and which has been flying off dealer lots as other Lincoln models watch their sales fall.

As with the Navigator, the Aviator offers cushy options, such as seats that adjust in 30 different ways. There is a a great deal of tech in the vehicle, including a new feature that allows owners to control many more functions through their smartphones, similar to moves by competitors such as Tesla. Lincoln's approach allows consumers to save their settings for the vehicle — everything down to their seat positions, Emmert said.

The vehicle has been aimed largely at so-called millennial buyers who are beginning to settle down and have children. Luxury three-row SUVs allow families an option that doesn't necessarily scream domesticity, Emmert said.

"We are getting to the point where millennials are in the 'life stage,' where they are having kids and are starting to earn money, and so they are even more important to fueling the growth in luxury," he said.

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