Lovely on paper, but struggling in practice.
Launching an all-new vehicle is not an easy task and even when the product is extremely good, like the 2020 Lincoln Aviator, there can still be teething issues. After being involved in a minor recall involving a missing park release cover, reports emerged suggesting the Aviator (and its corporate sibling, the Ford Explorer) are being delayed as the factory works to solve various issues.
According to the Detroit Free Press, some of these issues were not fixed in time prior to being delivered to customers. Lincoln has sold fewer than 2,000 Aviators since the SUV launched in August but owners are already reporting major problems with their brand-new vehicles.
The issues range from random alarms to the emergency braking system taking hold unexpectedly. We actually noticed the emergency braking system go off during our First Drive of the Aviator in Nappa Valley, California but chalked it up as a one-time occurrence due to the system being possibly placed in its most cautious setting. Alarmingly, Aviator owners are also experiencing major issues with the car's digital gauge cluster.
"When you get in, the speedometer and tachometer kind of goes berserk," said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports. "While driving, all of a sudden, the digital gauge cluster seems to be having huge problems. For the first couple of miles, it's hard to see what you're doing."
Laurel Spencer, an Aviator owner, reported her experience with the $70,000 SUV to Freep. "After owning my car a month, I'm sorry I bought it," she said. "It wasn't more than 24 hours since I drove it off the lot that I had my first problem - a leaky sunroof. A week or so later, it was seat belts that didn't work, and now it has been in the shop for nearly a week for computer malfunctions, which had my crash detection set off when driving on a quiet road. The parking brake came on while driving and a major transmission fault alarm went off. When they were fixing it, the seat controls went."
The Aviator is a great product with a lot to offer, but reliability issues could quickly derail sales as it attempts to compete with established vehicles from Audi, BMW, and Lexus.
A Lincoln spokesperson issued a statement on the recent Aviator issues. "As part of the launch of Lincoln Aviator, we were shipping vehicles to Flat Rock for additional quality checks and inspections. This is a longstanding practice at Ford Motor Co. with all-new vehicles to ensure that our vehicles are the highest possible quality for customers and we are taking every necessary action to ensure that the Aviator is built with the levels of quality and craftsmanship that our luxury customers expect. There has been strong demand for the Lincoln Aviator, and we are working as quickly as possible to get these vehicles into the hands of Lincoln clients. The (new vehicle) changeover at the Chicago Assembly Plant where they are built was one of the most complex in the company's history."
"Lincoln is committed to providing our customers with top quality vehicles. We are equally committed to addressing potential issues and responding quickly for our customers. We had two small recalls on Aviator since its launch and the majority of the affected vehicles were in dealer inventory and will be addressed prior to delivery to customers."