Lincoln Navigator — New SUV luxury

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

It's been 10 years since Lincoln built an all-new Navigator so the 2018 model was long overdue. And it has been an instant hit. The new iteration puts Lincoln back in the game with such stalwart full-sized SUV players as BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac and Lexus. And it has definitely leveled the playing field when it comes to body-on-frame SUVs.

This is one stylish, powerful, quiet and technologically advanced sport utility vehicle capable of carrying a full load of up to eight passengers and their cargo and pulling big toys up to 8,700 pounds.

After spending a generous amount of time behind the wheel of a top-of-the-line Black Label edition we can understand the full-sized SUV's new-found popularity. Lincoln has developed a new truck that comes with incredible performance from a twin-turbocharged V-6 making 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Beyond that, the Navigator is endowed with a handsomely sculpted exterior, and an interior featuring high quality materials, excellent fit and finish, wonderful old-guy-friendly seats, and some unique styling touches.

Most noticeable is the new Lincoln signature grille centered in a taller, massive-looking front end. On side profile, a new character line shoots out of the headlights and runs along the top of the door handles, extending all the way to the taillights. Blacked-out windows from the B pillar rearward give the vehicle a sleek and stately appearance.

The cabin has been entirely redone and it is a work of art. A large 10-inch touchscreen sits above the center air vents and physical buttons and knobs are clustered in a raised area of the center console, which in itself has a uniquely styled "peninsula" look creating a large storage area underneath. The control panel includes actual knobs for radio volume and tuning, and climate controls.

Transmission buttons reside below the center vents and are easy to use eliminating the need for a traditional transmission shifter. This frees up space between the seats, and the Navigator uses that space well with abundant storage compartments. A 12-inch LCD instrument display sits in front of the driver. Additionally a head-up display that can actually be viewed with polarized sunglasses (that's a first for us) is long overdue. Another hit was the door-mounted seat controls. Very effective.

The biggest pluses with this new SUV are the energetic drivetrain, quiet interior, and pleasing ride. Motivating this nearly three-ton beast is Ford's twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 producing a whopping 70 more horsepower and 50 more pound-feet of torque than the turbocharged V-6 found in the 2017 Navigator.

This setup provides confident acceleration even when loaded with passengers and cargo. For comparison, a rear-drive Navigator has been tested at just over five seconds from 0-to-60. The Lincoln is rated at 16 mpg city, 23 highway and 19 overall for rear-wheel drive and 16/21/18 AWD. That's just average-for-the-segment fuel economy, but the good news — the engine burns the less expensive regular gas.

The ride is pleasing, but the suspension can be stiffened if hitting a winding mountain road is part of the trip by putting the active damper system into the Excite mode. Back on the four-lane, the Normal setting is great for cruising and comfort and does a good job over potholes and broken pavement.

Lincoln has also gone to great lengths to insure solitude at any speed by installing laminated windows and extra sound-deadening materials as well has using an active noise-canceling system with three interior microphones. Lincoln claims the Navigator is the quietest SUV in its class.

There is abundant room for the first two rows of passengers and adequate space far back for adults. Cargo space is generous with 19.3 cubic feet of storage behind the third row, 57.5 cubic feet behind the second-row seat, and 103.3 cubic feet with all seatbacks folded.

There are four trim levels — Premiere, Select, Reserve and the opulent Black Label — starting at $73,250 including destination charge. Standard features on all Navigators include 20-inch wheels, power hands-free liftgate, tri-zone climate control, keyless ignition and entry, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, power-folding second-row captain's chairs with heating, a power-folding 60/40 rear bench seat, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six USB ports, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and a 14-speaker sound system. All-wheel drive is a $2,655 option on Premiere and Select and comes standard on Reserve and Black Label.

Prices and standard equipment increase through the trim packages to $95,895 for the Black Label. Our test vehicle with a handful of options including 30-way power adjustable multi-contour seats with Active Motion and 22-inch wheels carried a bottom line of $97,145 including destination charge.

Base price $73,250; as driven, $97,145
Engine: 3.5-liter twin turbocharged V-6
Horsepower: 450 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 510 pound-feet @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Searing: 2/2/3
Wheelbase: 122.5 inches
Length: 210 inches
Curb weight: 5,855 pounds
Turning circle: 40.8 feet
Towing capacity: 8,300 pounds
Luggage capacity: 19.3 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 103.3 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 16 city, 21 highway, 18 combined
0-60: 5.2 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Cadillac Escalade, Audi Q7, GMC Yukon Denali

The Good
• Considerable cargo capacity
• Strong turbocharged engine
• Quiet interior
• Outstanding interior layout

The Bad
• Big vehicles yield poor mpg

The Ugly
• Parking lot maneuverability difficult