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Aviator debuts Ford’s new CD6 rear-drive/all-wheel-drive architecture that will underpin multiple Ford and Lincoln crossover and SUV models.  (Lindsay Brooke)

Ford engineers a tech barrage with 2020 Lincoln Aviator

Ford Motor Co. officially launched its 2020 Lincoln Aviator at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show, with the all-new three-row midsized luxury SUV featuring a barrage of equally new and significant technologies. Production is slated for 3Q 2019 at Ford’s Chicago assembly complex.

Aviator debuts Ford’s first RWD/AWD vehicle platform, coded CD6, that was engineered from a clean sheet to support both conventional gasoline-ICE and plug-in hybrid models. It also features the much-anticipated electrified variant of Ford’s 10R 10-speed automatic transmission, which will also be used to “hybridize” the F-Series pickup. Known internally as MHT (modular hybrid transmission), the electrified 10R packages the e-motor on the input side, between the engine and gearset. It retains its torque converter. Non-hybrid Aviators will use the conventional 10R60 unit.

The AWD system features electric disconnect on the front axle.

Electrification and twin turbos
A liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack is mounted horizontally in the Aviator’s underfloor structure. At the L.A. Show launch, Lincoln engineers did not provide details of the lithium-ion battery pack. The PHEV (only offered with AWD) can be fully recharged in three to four hours using the Level 2 (240-V) component of its SAE J1772 charging setup. With two pure-EV driving modes, Aviator will offer about 50-km (30 mi) EV driving range, veteran program engineering chief John Davis said.

Rather than specify a boosted 4-cylinder engine, the Aviator development team opted for a twin-turbocharged 3.0-L V6 to pair with either 10R gearbox. “The V6 was the standard engine from the start of this program,” Davis told Automotive Engineering. He said a 48-V system was debated as well. While the V6 had not yet (as of mid-December 2018) received its SAE certification, Davis is confident its rating will meet 400 hp (298 kW) and 400 lb·ft (542 N·m) targets.

The new hybrid propulsion system will be in Aviator’s optional Grand Touring package, where it is expected to deliver 450 hp (335 kW) and 600 lb·ft (813 N·m) when full SAE power and EPA certifications are completed.

Tuned-in technology
The Aviator development team set a new standard within Ford (in the author’s opinion) in terms of applying sensing technologies to where they can be best-appreciated by the end customer. Aviator features speed-dependent “active pixel”
LED headlamps and a new “air glide” suspension option. The latter automatically lowers the body to improve ingress/egress and cargo loading. The system also has an adaptive feature that uses road-surface imagery data from the vehicle’s forward-facing camera to adjust damping prior to the vehicle impacting potholes and gnarly pavement. This seems an ideal technology application for the luxury-vehicle market.

The camera software also recognizes traffic signs and adjusts vehicle speed when in ‘Intelligent’ driving mode, one of seven driver-selectable operating modes.
There’s also a next-generation head-up display (HUD), standard 12.3-in. configurable LCD screen and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, using five antenna on the vehicle, to enable faster over-the-air capability. A new Lincoln app-activated “Phone as a Key” feature allows up to four smart phones to serve as vehicle “keys” for locking/unlocking, operating the liftgate and engine remote start.

“We’re rethinking how we do the business,” noted Davis. Focus on “the client”—how Lincoln describes its customer—was attenuated to a new level compared with previous Lincoln-brand development practice, Davis indicated. The process included use of a “journey wheel” to help align feature function and refinement with the luxury SUV customer’s typical day.

The new CD6 architecture was finalized in 2014. It’s a mixed-materials approach, with extensive use of aluminum alloys in the front structure, suspension knuckles and hood. The steel roof outer panel is stamped with longitudinal blisters for added strength. Acoustic glazing is used in the windshield and front- and second-row side windows.  Also keeping the cabin quiet are active noise cancellation and active sound-enhancement systems. Continue reading »