- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2005

It won’t be on sale for about a year, but Lincoln executives already are already starting to talk in broad terms about what buyers can expect when the all-new Lincoln Aviator arrives in showrooms.

Peter Horbury, director of North American design for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, said the Aviator will be transformed from a traditional sport utility vehicle into a crossover vehicle.

That means it will retain the high seating position, cargo-carrying utility and all-wheel-drive of an SUV, but sacrifice serious off-road ability for on-road comfort. It also means it will be built on a car platform instead of being an upscale offshoot of the truck-based Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer SUVs.

Speaking to automotive journalists during the introduction of Lincoln’s new entry-level Zephyr sedan, Mr. Horbury confirmed the Aviator will have a Lincoln-type, luxury-car interior and offer a panoramic moon roof as an option.

Mr. Horbury also said the Aviator will feature a cab-forward design, which pushes the wheels close to the four corners of the vehicle, and will have clean, simple lines in keeping with Lincoln’s new design philosophy.

Its all-new grille will differ from the front-end theme on current Lincoln vehicles.

A full-size representation of the Aviator’s exterior was introduces and its design, particularly toward the rear, hints at the Lexus RX 330.

Company officials declined to divulge any details about the powertrain, suspension or other mechanical components of the vehicle.

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