Far from following the trend to “crossover” like several of its brethren, the Lincoln Navigator does not pretend to be a four-door sedan with an SUV body. Instead, it embraces truck-based bulk and ruggedness, with the premium and tech features that symbolize Ford’s Lincoln luxury division. It is that approach that carries into the Navigator’s third generation of production, which is being closed out with the 2017 model year.
The Lincoln Navigator is split according to certain physical measurements. There’s a version of the full-size luxury SUV that has a wheelbase 14 inches longer than the regular model. So, by default, the regular Navigator is occasionally referred to as “SWB” (Small Wheel Base), while the longer wheelbase is officially named as L, or is sometimes referred to as “LWB” (Long Wheel Base). Due to the longer wheelbase, the LWB has 14.9 more inches in total length, thus giving it more interior space than the SWB version.
The trims on the Navigator are the Select and the Reserve, which are distinguished from each other by higher-level luxury touches on the latter. Due to the diverse trim combinations, the Navigator has a wide starting MSRP range of $63,515 to $73,970.
The workhorse installed on the Lincoln Navigator is the 3.5-liter twin-scroll turbocharged EcoBoost V6, which had first appeared in a 2015 facelift of the vehicle. The engine generates 380 horsepower at 5,250 RPM and 460 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 RPM. Tied to the V6 is a 6-speed automatic transmission, which comes with SelectShift® technology that allows you to opt for a semi-automatic gear-shifting mode for greater driving control.
Regarding the drivetrain, you can go with a rear-wheel drive (4×2) for a more even 50/50 weight distribution, or the Control Trac® Four-Wheel Drive (4×4) system for enhanced traction on slippery surfaces and handling on dry roads.
Fuel economy for city driving is uniformly 15 MPG. On the highway, it varies from 19 MPG to 21 MPG depending on drivetrain and model. The best fuel efficiency comes from the Navigation SWB 4×2, which also is the top towing version—at up to 9,000 lbs.
For absorbing the bumps and holes on any terrain you encounter, the Lincoln Navigator is handsomely equipped with an all-wheel independent suspension. With a front short- and long-arm suspension and multi-link rear suspension fortified by stabilizer bars and coil-over shocks, you’ll feel cushioned from the driving turbulence.
The SUV’s electric power-assisted steering is instrumental in enforcing the ability to make sharp and precise turns, as well as conserving energy with its independent power source instead of relying on the engine. The power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes shorten stopping distances, and the accompanying anti-lock braking system prevents the wheels from locking up when you apply them.
Inside the Lincoln Navigator are three rows of leather-covered seats for seating up to eight people. The first row includes 10-way power adjustability, as well as heating and cooling capability for warming or cooling down the seats when appropriate. A memory system is in place to store preferred positioning on the driver’s seat, in addition to the foot pedals and steering column.
The second row of seats join the first row in its heating capability. On the Reserve trim in particular, Lincoln replaces the Brown Walnut Swirl or Prussian Burl genuine wood inlays with unique Ziricote ones, upgrades the first and second rows with premium Ebony Del Rio leather, and adds a cargo-area floor mat.
For entertainment, the huge SUV provides a monster 14-speaker 600-watt system that is equipped with a 12-channel amp and THX® II Certified 5.1 surround sound technology. Accompanying the system are Bluetooth® for audio streaming and hands-free phone calling, HD Radio™ for digital radio tuning and quality, and a SiriusXM® Satellite Radio subscription.
Integrating all infotainment functions is Ford’s SYNC® 3 voice-activated system, which includes navigation and a huge color capacitive touchscreen, as well as Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto® for controlling the dashboard unit with your smartphone. More comfort and convenience comes from features such as:
- Remote keyless entry for entering the SUV with a press of the key fob
- Remote start for starting the SUV from outside
- Push-button engine ignition for starting the SUV without your key
- Dual-zone automatic climate control to grant occupants other than the driver to set HVAC preferences
- Auto dimmer on the rearview mirror to kill glare from headlights behind you
Outside, the Lincoln Navigator rides on huge machined-finish aluminum wheels: 20-inch Ultra Brite ones on the Select and 22-inch 20-spoke ones on the Reserve. At the front are a pair of HID projector headlights with LED signature lighting, as well as daytime running ability for automatic illumination when needed. At the front doors are dual power-folding heated mirrors that can have their positioned stored using the aforementioned memory system. Chrome roof-rack side rails provide additional cargo carrying capability. At the back are long-lasting LED taillights, a power liftgate for hands-free opening of the trunk, and a chrome-tipped dual exhaust for maximizing emissions.
Safety and Security
For protection in the event of an auto collision, the Lincoln Navigator is equipped with dual front impact airbags that face the driver and front passenger, dual side impact airbags installed on the front seats, and dual roof-mounted side curtain airbags that flank all three rows. Other standard safety features on the Navigator include:
- A rearview camera with forward and reverse sensing systems for a 360-degree awareness of your surroundings
- AdvanceTrac® system with Roll Stability Control™ for electronic stability
- Traction control for avoiding skidding on surfaces made slippery by snow, rain, or ice
- SOS Post-Crash Alert System™ for providing immediate emergency assistance in the aftermath of an accident
- Blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert for increased alertness to cars or objects that you cannot easily detect
For security, the Navigator SUV a SecuriLock® anti-theft system that comes with the SecuriCode™ keyless entry keypad for entering your personalized code. Also, there’s the MyKey® feature for allowing controlled use of the vehicle with a configurable key.
Plus, if you go with the Control Trac® 4×4 drivetrain, Lincoln adds the following:
- Hill start assist for preventing the Navigator from rolling backward when shifting from a parked position to Drive on a steep hill
- Hill descent control for smooth and controlled descent from a hill without having to apply the brakes
For years, including this one, the Cadillac Escalade has been the Lincoln Navigator’s chief adversary—thanks to a vigorous V8 and a cabin unparalleled in the segment in terms of luxury. Notably, the Escalade is also available in regular and extended wheelbase designs. Other premium full-size SUVs worthy of mention in relation to the Navigator include the Range Rover, the Toyota Land Cruiser, and the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, which are remarkably strong off-roaders.
The Lincoln Navigator has come a long way from its debut in 1997, when auto experts generally contended that it was comparatively plain, sluggish and a gas guzzler. Over the years, the Navigator has closed more and more of the gap with the segment’s leaders. While there’s still more work to be done to get the vehicle to the very top, the Navigator at least succeeds in providing loads of interior space. There’s lots of room for up to eight occupants, as well as lots of luggage.