Explorer vs Aviator | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Explorer vs Aviator


August 4, 2012
Reaction score
City, State
Eau Claire, WI
Year, Model & Trim Level
2018 Explorer Platinum
Explorer vs Aviator. I'm considering my next Explorer, likely a Platinum or the new King Ranch, or an Aviator Reserve. Clearly the Aviator is a luxury upgrade, which is fine. What I'm curious about is if the Aviator is also a quality upgrade. I've seen lots of comments about a multitude of issue with the Explorer, but not so much with the Aviator. So if I upgrade to an Aviator, do I get both more luxury AND better quality? Any thoughts?

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I've seen lots of 2020 Explorers on the road, but I've yet to see an Aviator. Might be "One Of Those Things" where you don't hear much about them because there's just not that many out there. Peter, and a few others notwithstanding.

Lincoln is a premium brand and have more luxury appointments. If you can spring for either one then get the Aviator. My wife did not want to spend that much as they can get into the 80s fully loaded. An Explorer in ST trim or even lower models with the SAP are great rides and do what they are intended do.

I think maybe the quality issues is there are less Lincolns on the road so less known problems popping up among fewer vehicles.

Most of these types of forums are visited by people because they have issues with their particular vehicle. As such the problem posts tend to favour the more popular models. As member quickfix mentioned, there far more Explorers on the road than Aviators. I'm in a small town and see Explorers on a daily basis but have only seen a couple of Aviators in the past year. In fact, I believe I'm the only one that has one in my town.
Since I'm not exactly your typical driver (low mileage), I don't think I can honestly provide a true picture of the Aviator's reliability but so far mine has been excellent. Although the Lincoln brand is rated low in the latest Consumer Reports mostly for "predicted reliability", customer satisfaction for the Aviator is ranked High, even better than Lexus. I haven't found any issues with fit and finish or mechanical ones in the 16 months I've had it.
I lease my vehicles and wouldn't hesitate to get another Aviator when my lease is up, depending of course on the price at that time.
One thing Lincoln has going for it is the 4 years, 50k mile Factory warranty and 6 years, 70k mile Powertrain warranty plus its pickup and delivery service. Being that it is a new model, I think that as time goes on that more issues will be posted here by their owners.


SLE - I've had my 2020 Aviator Reserve for about 14 months now, 3,000 miles so far. I spent a year of rabidly reading anything I could get my hands on related to the then-upcoming 2020 Explorer. I really wanted one. Almost at the end I came across a Car & Driver review where the author commented that if the reader was looking at the Explorer, they might consider an Aviator. I thought, 'A what?' What I saw I really liked but I was confused by the differences. I built a spreadsheet to compare individual specs between the two. They were very close. I dug into the cost of each and was very surprised when, for the features I wanted, I got the Explorer Platinum and the Aviator Reserve very close to one another in pricing. By then, the reports here and in the media were constantly reporting on quality issues w/the Explorer and I was getting nervous. I ultimately went with the Aviator. I've had none of the issues that are reported on the Explorer except for issues with the camera display, which the dealer has yet to resolve. I am very glad I made the Aviator decision. The styling, quality, features and dealer treatment are all great. So far so good. Good luck with your decision!

I think compared to a similarly equiped Explorer, the Aviator is about $6-7k more. The interior and exterior are nicer for sure, If that's an inconsequential amount of money and you like the Aviator features/styling more, go for it!

I just saw a new white aviator about an hour ago while getting gas.

There is no doubt the aviator is the premium looking car. It's a very good looking car. Very upscale looking. As it should. Similar to honda/acura, toyota/lexus.

If you're after the luxury and refinement, go with the aviator.

If you want something on the "cheaper" side, then opt for a higher model explorer. But just remember, even if you get the higher trim explorer, that doesn't mean it will be on the aviator level. You're basically getting the luxury features, the explorer will still have the plastics, the cheap clips that come loose as the car ages etc.

If i had to do it over, since i'm more of a performance type of guy, i would have gotten the ST.

If i was someone looking for a more premium vehicle that has refinement, i wouldn't even consider an explorer. I would look at the aviator or even something else in that segment/class that is known for quality and refinement.

All this Lincoln talk makes me think I should of purchased a Aviator. In my working days as a salesperson I owned two Mark VIII's, put 50K a year on them, trading every 3 years. Those were nice, comfortable, quiet, reliable cars. At the time my customers were amazed with the factory built in Voice activated phone system.

Another factor to keep in mind if towing is important is that the Aviator with the factory tow package is rated at 6700 pounds. It has a class IV hitch.


Thanks everyone for your feedback. I'm currently on my 6th explorer. My wife loves it. It's hard to get her to upgrade to a newer version, let alone a different brand/model. But the Aviator would fall into the Explorer category. I'm liking the styling (and luxury) of the Aviator. But if Ford takes some extra effort during assembly, that's worth a lot. It was good to hear about the better warranty too; I wasn't aware of that.

Keep in mind, if you buy an ESP, the longer warranty on the Lincoln doesn't matter and essentially paying more for no benefit. The ESP is the same cost on Explorer and Aviator.

The interior beauty and quality though is top notch.

Keep in mind, if you buy an ESP, the longer warranty on the Lincoln doesn't matter and essentially paying more for no benefit. The ESP is the same cost on Explorer and Aviator.

The interior beauty and quality though is top notch.
I love the design of the Aviator and have had Lincolns for the past 10 years but my ST is the most exciting and dynamic looking vehicle I've ever owned!

Having owned a 2020 Explorer ST and now, a 2020 Aviator, I can tell for sure that the interior materials used on the Aviator are clearly on a different level. Although this is certainly the case with my vehicle since we got the Black Label, the Reserve is also an upgrade.

AFAIK, both are made in the same plant in Chicago, so build quality would probably be the same.

The Aviator is in a class that has strong competition from stalwarts like the X5 and GLE. It’s probably not selling well because of that. The Explorer on the other hand only competes with the vastly old Durango and Grand Cherokee. It’s clearly superior and competitively priced to its competition.

I know this is a fairly older thread but would just like to point out the Aviator does have a completely different suspension system. It rides on a SLA setup which ironically is better for cornering performance.

As for build quality... it does still come out of the Chicago plant so its a roll of the dice. The difference is the drop off and pick up service where you are provided a loaner vehicle. We had many issues with our 2020 but none were repeats so we couldn't lemon it back and Lincoln denied a buy back. That said we still traded it in on a 2022.