Hitting All the Right Buttons
Full-sized luxury SUVs are a hot seller in today’s market. Most confuse luxury with tacky trim applied to a pedestrian SUV, but occasionally a new or updated SUV comes to the market that hits all the right buttons for size, luxury, performance, and safety. The freshly updated 2018 Lincoln Navigator is one of those vehicles. Lincoln has stepped up its game in this space and has risen to the top of the large SUV market to the point of winning the North American Truck of the Year award for 2018.
The new Navigator builds on a solid structure with its body-on-frame construction shared with Ford’s pickups. Powered by the same Ford EcoBoost 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine found in the Ford F-150 Raptor, this engine is good for 450 horsepower and 510 pounds-feet of torque mated to a 10-speed transmission. Not only does this engine power the Navigator effortlessly from 0-60 in under six seconds, but it also manages to do it while returning 22 mpg. For a three-ton vehicle, that is a miracle in itself.
Though based on a truck chassis, the Navigator’s engineers have managed to build a body that is well-insulated from engine and road noise so the interior is whisper-quiet. The body uses aluminum components throughout. While this shaves some weight, it mainly contributes to the body’s rigidity, which adds to the comfortable ride. An optional towing package is available that gives the Navigator a towing capacity up to 8,700 pounds.
Multiple Driving Modes
The 2018 Navigator has multiple drive modes, with two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive available with a turn of a center-mounted knob. There are also several drive modes optimized for the conditions like Slippery Mode, Conserve, Deep (off-road) Mode, Sand and Snow, and a Climb mode. The suspension, engine and transmission response can also be adjusted with optimized settings. While Normal is the default, Excite mode is a favorite, with a better throttle and transmission response, along with firmer suspension settings. The Navigator sits on 22-inch turbine-look aluminum wheels, which accentuates the Navigator’s massive body. The Navigator is available in two sizes, huge and humongous, with 210.0-inch and 221.9-inch wheelbases with overall lengths between 122.5 and 131.6 inches.
Despite the taut body and multiple drive modes, driving the Navigator will never be confused with driving a big Euro sedan. The Navigator is a massive vehicle; you sit up high off the road, and you feel its heft and inertia. It is subtle, but the Navigator has that stout ruggedness of a large body-on-frame SUV.
Our test Navigator came with the top-level Black Label 4×4 trim. There are three Black Label trims–Chalet, Destination, and Yacht Club–each having unique interior trim appointments with different woods, carpeting, leather, and accents. Yacht Club would feel right at home in Newport News and feels very nautical. Chalet gives you the warm cozy feeling of an alpine ski lodge. Our test Navigator had the Destination trim, which had the feeling of an old-school social club with its burgundy interior appointments. The only thing missing was a whiff of cigar smoke and single malt scotch.
Room for Adults
The Navigator comes with seven-passenger seating for seven full-sized adults with the option for a second-row additional seat for eight passengers total. The rear seats in the Navigator are just as spacious as those in the front and trimmed in the same opulent leathers and woods as the rest of the SUV. This interior is like the exterior, huge. The driver and passenger seats feature 30-way adjustability as well as individual heating, cooling and massage. No need to schedule time in a spa, as time in these seats will have you relaxed in no time at all. The middle row seats are individual buckets with a center console that allows control of the heating and cooling as well as operating the sound system through an LCD screen.
The sound system in the Navigator is a 20 speaker Revel Ultima surround-sound system, which features the most massive subwoofer ever mounted in a Lincoln. Clean, crisp audio imaging is incredible with three digital sound fields: stereo, surround-sound audience mode and a unique on-stage mode that places the individual instruments and sounds throughout the cabin. This sound system has to be heard to believed. It is one of the most excellent audio systems we have ever tested.
The cabin has an abundance of cupholders and cubbies for storage. The middle seats feature a one-touch tilt and slide feature that makes it easy for passengers to reach the third-row seats. This feature did have one bug in it. When parked, we did find that the driver’s seat moves back to allow the driver to get out. Unfortunately, that blocks the middle seat from resetting itself when it slides out for the back passengers to exit.
The driver’s display keeps with the underlying theme of the Lincoln–everything is huge. The driver’s screen is a 12.0-inch fully digital display, which can be configured to show just about any combination of information the driver desires. This display is backed up by a second 10.0-inch touchscreen display in the center console that offers entertainment, navigation and information displays, and yet a third head-up display for the driver projects on the windshield.
The Navigator standard equipment includes all of Lincoln’s available driver-assistance features, including adaptive cruise control that can stop and start the vehicle without driver intervention, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring and lane keep assist. An optional self-parking system is available to complement the front and rear parking sensors and surround-view camera system.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator sets the new standard for mega-SUVs. It is a living room on wheels with a quiet, comfortable, smooth ride with excellent chassis manners. Its creature conveniences, safety features and electronics are world-class.
The Lincoln is premium-priced starting at about $73,000 and working up to north of $100,000 for the Black Label long-wheelbase models. It is an economical vehicle, relatively speaking, for a 6,000-pound SUV with a 16 city/21 highway/21 combined EPA rating. We observed 22 mpg during our testing.
While the Lincoln Navigator isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea, it really resets the standard for a top of the line luxury SUV is today, and if you are in the market for an SUV that is at the top of its game, then the Navigator should be on your consideration list.
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