What is it: For 2018, the Lincoln Navigator is redone top to bottom. The 2016 New York auto show concept, also called Navigator, set the stage — who can forget those crazy gullwing doors and staircase to the passenger compartment? The production version came a year later in spring 2017, also at the New York show.
Base Price: $93,705 As-Tested Price: $96,570
Key Competitors: Cadillac Escalade ESV, Land Rover Range Rover LWB, Lexus LX
Full Review: 2018 Lincoln Navigator first drive
Highlights: This is the fourth-generation Navigator, and the 450-hp twin-turbo V6 and 10-speed automatic are straight from the mighty Raptor. Ford again went with body-on-frame (an updated F-150 chassis) and independent rear suspension. There are two lengths — the shorter, 122.5-inch wheelbase and the Navigator L with a 131.6-inch wheelbase; dimensionally the new truck is slightly longer in both wheelbase and overall length than the old one. Lincoln says the Navigator offers best-in-class legroom in the second and third rows.
Our Opinion: The Maritime Pilots Institute in Covington, Louisiana, gives refresher courses in piloting ships — cruise ships, tankers, container ships, whatever. Or to make a European vacation out of it, you could go to Port Revel, a ship-piloting school about 350 miles southeast of Paris. Either would probably help get you ready for life behind the new Lincoln Navigator’s wheel.
(Not making fun! Lincoln itself compares its new Navigator to a luxury yacht; I’m just going along with the theme here.)
No way around it, this thing is huge. It weighs between 5,800 and 6,200 pounds, but the truth is it’s actually 150-some pounds lighter than the outgoing model: The new Navigator’s aluminum body saves around 200 pounds, though in an effort to make it the quietest big SUV on the market, some weight was put back. Laminated windows, loads of sound deadening, an active noise-canceling system, those kinds of things.
Thus the company says the new Navigator elevates “family travel to first class.” No argument from me, especially if part of being first class means ginormous. No, you won’t find words such as “quick turn-in” or “razor-sharp handling” in this review, nor should you. Apologies in advance if a stray “port” or “starboard” accidentally slips in.
Lincoln’s new Navigator glides down the road smoothly and quietly, even in Detroit. Said a colleague, “I’m really impressed with how it handles the moon-like craters on the road. While both a Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz GLS feel soft and supple, the sound of the suspension bouncing around gets into the cabin. But this Navigator rolls over them with nothing but one muted ‘thump.’”
To that I add thank goodness for the Raptor engine. Stand on the gas and this thing takes off way quicker than you’d guess. No, the V6 doesn’t sound as cool as a V8, but the 450 hp (510 lb-ft) really helps off the line. Midrange acceleration is quick–ish as well. Trim levels except the base Premiere have adaptive dampers tied into a new drive system with excite (sport), conserve (efficient), slippery (mud/snow) and deep (deep mud or snow) modes. They adjust steering, throttle and transmission response, suspension, engine sounds … you get the idea.
No matter the mode, one must plan in advance. We’re talking a 6,000-pound 18-footer, so that’s not a big surprise. Also not a big surprise is that in normal mode there’s body roll aplenty. That’s OK here in the Motor City, where the Navigator just cruises through our notorious potholed pavement unruffled. Excite mode actually reins the chassis in some, making the truck drive smaller than the old one. Not small … smaller.
The Navigator’s interior is the highlight. It’s ultra comfortable and looks and feels really expensive, a sanctuary of well-assembled, lovely materials. They wouldn’t be out of place on a far more expensive car. Back-seat room is fantastic, the soft leather seats terrific. Real adults can sit in the third row, while up front there’s a reconfigurable 12-inch LCD instrument cluster and a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment screen.
Ten-way power heated seats are standard, but you want to spend the $1,250 on the 30-way, massaging, heating and cooling seats. They’re among the best thrones on any SUV (or anything else) we’ve driven.
As long as you’re hurling money around, I urge you to go an extra $12,500 over and above the Reserve model’s $81,205 base sticker and get the Black Label edition. It offers even softer leather covering most every surface (even the door handles). The headliner and door pillars are wrapped in a suede-like material, the carpets are deeper and softer to the touch, and the wood on the center console is cut from one piece. Black Label also includes a four-year, 50,000-mile maintenance plan and in-home delivery.
If you need a full-size luxury SUV, the new Navigator is definitely worth a drive. I wouldn’t have said that about the old one.
—Wes Raynal, editor
Options: 30-way seat adjustability ($1,250), cargo package ($420)
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $94,900
As Tested Price: $96,570
Powertrain: 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6, AWD, ten-speed automatic
Output: 450 hp @ 5,500 rpm; 510 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Curb Weight: 5,855 lb
Fuel Economy: 16/23/18 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Excellent build quality, Raptor power
Cons: It’s huuuuuuuuuge