The Lincoln Navigator was once the gold standard for luxury SUVs, but it faded into history as time—not to mention limited investment from parent company Ford in its luxury brand—marched on.
For 2018, the Navigator has been reinvented with the lofty goal of once again becoming the standard in the full-size luxury SUV market.
After spending a week with luxury SUV, here are nine things you need to know about the 2018 Lincoln Navigator.
It has presence
The exterior isn’t loud or in your face like the Cadillac Escalade, but the Navigator isn’t shy about announcing its arrival. The massive chrome grille up front with a large Lincoln emblem leaves little question as to what this people mover is, while the available 22-inch alloy wheels with black accents will age like a black tuxedo. The rear is simple yet elegant with its large LED taillight spanning the width of the tailgate and into the rear quarter-panels.
Inside, soft leather, plush materials, and liberal amounts of chrome adorn every surface. The switch gear feels solid, and doesn’t wiggle like you might expect—it’s tight and well-screwed together, just like the Lincolns your grandparents bragged about.
There’s large, and then there’s the new 2018 Navigator. Even in short wheelbase form it dwarfs most on the road. It’s not often a vehicle can make the Cadillac Escalade feel small—and yet, here we are. For perspective, the third row in the short wheelbase Navigator has more legroom than the second row of the mid-size Ford Fusion sedan.
Everything about the Navigator is huge, which is a great thing if you need to ferry people and gear. Inside you have 19.3 cubic feet of space for your golf clubs behind the third row in the short wheelbase model, which expands to 34.3 cubic feet in the long wheelbase model. That’s more space behind the third row in the short wheelbase model than you have in the trunk of a full-size Mercedes-Benz S-Class by 2 cubic feet.
In short wheelbase form with four-wheel drive it weighs 5,855 pounds, and that goes up to 6,056 in long wheelbase form. That’s in the range of a Hummer H2.
Wafts down the road
Even though its born in America, the Navigator’s ride would be fit for old-world royalty. While it doesn’t have air suspension (a notable omission in the rear for those who tow heavy weekend toys), the adaptive suspension soaks up bumps and road imperfections shockingly well, especially given the 22-inch rolling stock. Steering weight is electrically boosted and makes maneuvering this land yacht through the Whole Foods parking lot a breeze. All of this happens as you get a massage from the available 30-way adjustable seats.
Approach the Navigator at night and exterior LED lights gradually come to life on the door handles while twin LED strips in the headlights gradually make their way across the front. It’s a natural performer. Open the door and the automatic running boards drop down to greet you and elevate you to the supremely comfortable thrones, and then the infotainment screen and digital gauge cluster come to life with animations to welcome you to the Navigator. Getting into the Navigator is an experience, and that is how it should be.
Modes for all the things
Like most new vehicles today, the Navigator has driving modes that modify the vehicle’s powertrain. Those modes include Excite (sport), Conserve (eco), Normal, Normal 4×4, Slippery, and Deep Conditions. Deep Conditions is the most interesting as it has the system in four-wheel drive, engages second-gear start like Slippery mode, but also turns off traction control to allow all four wheels to spin in deep snow. To say it’s effective would be an understatement. In one of the worst blizzards in recent years to hit the Midwest (dumping over a foot of snow in Minnesota in one night) the Navigator powered through unplowed streets and parking lots with snow over two feet deep without issue while on all-season tires.