- What’s Best: Opulent interior, powerful, seating for eight.
- What’s Worst: Thirst for fuel, perfect position seats not so perfect.
- What’s Interesting: 30-way power seats look like nothing you’ve seen in a car before.
There’s big and then there’s Lincoln’s new Navigator. At 17 and a half feet long and over 6 feet high, it casts an imposing silhouette.
“It’s like a moving cabin, ” yelled my 8-year old nephew excitedly as he scampered in the back, jumping from seat to seat. Gobsmacked, by all the buttons and screens and places to plug in his device.
He’s not the type of kid that usually gets excited about cars but this one got his attention. It was like his own playground, acres of space crammed with Wi-Fi and apps and streaming.
I think it’s more like a moving cigar lounge, only with more wood. Thick panels of real Rosewood with bookmatched grain adorn the dash, centre console, and doors. Cinnamon leather seats can be positioned in 30 different ways and are comprised of individual sections attached to a frame. Like nothing I’ve seen in a car before. Lincoln calls it the “Perfect Position Seat”. Was I able to find the perfect position? I’ll pick up on these seats later.
A bit of time was spent designing this interior and it shows. The floating centre console could have easily been plucked from the bridge of the Enterprise, exuding that galaxy-class starship feel and bringing out the inner Captain Picard in all of us. Toggle buttons integrated into the dashboard take the place of a traditional gear lever and are refreshingly simple to use. There are chrome accents everywhere, an American specialty, but it never comes off as tacky.
This interior is American luxury done properly: big, spacious, comfortable, and effortless. A 10-inch center infotainment screen runs Sync 3. You can expect sharp graphics in rather muted tones, quick and intuitive operation, and as is becoming the norm, Apple Car Play and Android Auto can integrate your smartphone if you choose.
Also becoming the norm are screens instead of traditional instrument clusters and the Navigator features a 12-inch customizable display that can be configured to show only what you need. You get stunning spacey visuals when selecting different drive modes such as excite, conserve, and slow climb that adjusts throttle, traction, and 4WD settings to presumably get you wherever you need to go.
And it could probably go places you wouldn’t expect. But why would you? This is a vehicle that has zippy power running boards that extend before you can get the door halfway open, and approach lighting.
The Navigator was a bit of an attention grabber everywhere it went. It commands real presence, even for what is essentially a streamlined box on wheels with shiny teeth. Flying under the radar is not this vehicle’s forte.
Even walking up to your Navigator is an occasion, especially at night. Lincoln logos project on the floor, the LED strips under the headlights cascade on, and the large Lincoln badge in the middle of the massive grille glows, all without you lifting a finger. An acknowledgment from your car to its rightful owner, a bit of a spectacle but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy watching it every time.
Finding that perfect position once perched on the drivers throne, proved a bit more difficult than I expected. Mainly because there were 30 different ways to adjust them, including separate extending thigh supports for each leg. Rather than a simple backrest recline, there were two different ways to recline the backrest. Sound confusing? It was a bit.
And it actually took me a few days before I found that perfect position, except it didn’t feel perfect. They were comfortable enough but I always felt that I was an adjustment or two away from total comfort, and I never quite achieved it. I guess my expectations were set too high. But everyone’s body is shaped differently and your mileage may vary.
Very little engine noise creeps into the cabin. It’s monastery quiet in here even at high speeds. All the better to revel (pun intended) in the Revel Ultima 20-speaker audio system standard on the Reserve models that sounds fabulous with booming lows and impressive clarity regardless of the source used.
Driving this large vehicle seemed intimidating at first, but quickly became easy after just a short stint behind the wheels. As long as you don’t try to hustle it too quickly and corner with restraint, the big Lincoln remains stable and planted. Light, over-boosted steering is expected and body roll is pronounced but it never felt tippy like many in this full-size class do.
The ride quality is silky and there’s ample power for passing slower traffic. In fact, for such a heavy vehicle this Navigator can move, feeling downright zippy thanks to the turbocharged 3.5 Litre V6 lifted out of the gonzo F-150 Raptor. With 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic, this truck can hustle if you need it too. But it can also drain a full tank of gas in a hurry.
I did my best to keep it in the Eco mode (called Conserve) but the best I was able to muster was 14.4 L /100 km with about a 70/30 mix of highway/city driving. It made me wonder if a larger displacement engine with more cylinders might have netted better economy, as it wouldn’t have to work as hard as the V6 that has to constantly keep its turbos spooled to deliver adequate levels of thrust. On the other hand, a typical Navigator buyer might not be as concerned with saving dollars at the pump as someone who has to live on a journalist’s income.
This is an expensive vehicle. My fully loaded Navigator Reserve Tester came with almost every option box ticked, including a rear entertainment package that mounts a 10-inch screen on the back of each of the front seat headrests and those 30-way massaging seats, for just over a hundred grand.
There’s storage everywhere and the cavernous centre console bin can easily fit a backpack or large purse, or a medium-sized dog. And if that’s not enough, a second bin of equal size resides in the 2nd row. If you needed to bring all the contents of your house, you probably could. It can tow too. Up to 8700 lbs, which is a lot and is best-in-class according to Lincoln.
If you spec your Navigator with a second-row bench seat instead of the individual captain’s chairs you get seating for up to eight. But I imagine it might get quite crammed.
Easily one of the coolest new interiors on the market, the surprising thing here is that it comes not from some European marque but one with roots much closer to home. The Navigator manages to stay decidedly American inside and out while providing a world-class experience that should put Lincoln back on the map in a good way. And judging by the sales so far it seems to be working.