I’m probably nothing like the target buyer intended for the mid-sized 2020 Lincoln Aviator. But after having spent about a week with a fully optioned model driving around South Florida, I grew quite attached to it, particularly the comfortable and thoughtfully-designed interior.
The Aviator is a sibling of the Ford Explorer but by no means is this a badge engineering exercise by Lincoln. Except for the general proportions of the exterior, there’s little else to connect these two models together. The front end is in my opinion, the best representation of the Lincoln design language from their lineup. The scale and placement of the lights and grille are given enough room to breathe to look well balanced. The smaller Corsair’s a bit cramped and the Navigator’s grille and lights look like a photoshop stretch taken too far. That’s always the pitfall with a common design language, the scaling can get wonky.
The roads of South Florida are notoriously flat and straight. That suited the Aviator just fine for cruising the boulevards and highways between Miami and West Palm Beach. It was also an opportunity to visit some places that likely aren’t on the tourist lists.
Norton Museum of Art
The origins of the Norton Museum of Art date back to the 1940s and it’s noted as being the first art museum established in South Florida. A 12,000 sq ft expansion design by Foster + Partners opened in early 2019. The exterior architecture preserves an estimated century old ficus tree, the canopy of which extends beyond a cutout in the facade’s massive cantilevered roof.
Impossible to miss is the shallow reflecting pool and Typewriter Eraser Scale X installation by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen in front of the entrance. The massive ficus tree and nearly two storey tall eraser sculpture really mess with your sense of scale.
The interior of the museum is logically arranged and easy to navigate. There’s a main “living room” space that serves to anchor the galleries and offers seating spaces to relax or browse some art journals. The feature gallery was presenting Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern which displayed many of the minimalist garments owned and worn by the painter.
Florida’s Sand Mountain
Jonathan Dickinson State Park is the largest state park in Southeast Florida. It’s named after a merchant who was shipwrecked with his family off the nearby coast in 1696. During the 1940s, it was the site of Camp Murphy which housed a top secret radar training school. Today, it contains 16 distinct natural environments, some of them rare, and is home to many bird, insect, reptile and mammal species.
Because South Florida is devoid of any real elevation change in the landscape, the park is also home to one of the only places you can experience a mountain top view. Well, it’s not exactly a mountain and technically more a giant sand dune called Hobe Mountain. The views, are pretty spectacular. Making the experience a touch more surreal is the white sand that covers the dune resembling a dusting of snow from a distance.
A late day drive through the park concluded with a stop and photo session in a forested section of the park. It provided some time to dig into the details of the Aviator and appreciate how good the interior is. The instrument panel has a really nice restrained design and doesn’t give in to excessive aesthetic swoopyness. In Lincoln tradition, the transmission controls are all push button.
Finally, the seats are super comfortable and feel more upholstered furniture-like than automotive seat. This test Aviator had all the heat and cool functions as well as the massage feature (essential for long road trips) included.
Exploring some of the less expected spots in South Florida in total comfort was what the Aviator provided while I had it. This included a drive to cover Design Miami. Thanks to Lincoln for making the Aviator available for a loan, it was one I was sad to have to return.
Photos and Text: Dave Pinter