Finding Anything Hear !!

01 December 2008

Lincoln Navigator Review

Lincoln Navigator Review

While no longer the icon it was in the late 1990s, the Lincoln Navigator carries the distinction of being the first full-size SUV to be offered by a domestic luxury brand. Born at a time when SUVs were becoming ever more popular, the Navigator -- big, imposing and flashy -- was initially seen by some as the ultimate rolling status symbol.

Sold in two generations, the Lincoln Navigator is a traditional body-on-frame SUV with standard V8 power. In either generation, the Navigator offers seating for seven to eight, well over 100 cubic feet of cargo capacity and a tow rating of over 8,000 pounds. As such, it often appeals to large families with a boat or travel trailer. The availability of a dual-range four-wheel-drive system means that the biggest Lincoln has some off-road capability as well. Most Navigators, though, are fitted with running boards and aftermarket wheels, and rarely see trail duty.

Drawbacks to the early Navigators included subpar fuel economy, sluggish acceleration and sloppy handling. Fortunately, Lincoln has refined the formula over the years, and the result is a full-size SUV that offers a reasonably pleasant driving experience, along with one of the most accommodating third-row seats in the heavyweight class. We're not ready to call the Navigator the best of the large, luxury-brand sport-utilities, but it's still worth a look, especially for buyers who carry more than five adults on a regular basis.

Current Lincoln Navigator

Last redesigned for 2003, the current Lincoln Navigator is a full-size SUV. Although styled and equipped for an upscale audience, it shares the bulk of its underpinnings with the Ford Expedition, including its standard 300-horsepower 5.4-liter V8 and six-speed automatic transmission. A significant round of updates for 2007 brought heavy revisions to the Navigator's frame and rear suspension, along with larger brakes and additional sound-deadening material. These changes added significantly to curb weight, but yielded tidier handling dynamics and a quieter, more refined ride. The '07 refresh also brought a new grille design, and it's no understatement to say this is the most amount of chrome available on the nose of any current production vehicle.

Lincoln Navigator buyers have a choice between rear-wheel drive (2WD) and four-wheel drive; the 4WD system offers both high- and low-range gearing, along with "2 Hi" and "Auto 4WD" modes, allowing the driver to prioritize either fuel economy or wet-weather traction. There are two trim levels, Luxury and Ultimate. The Navigator Luxury comes with most of the expected amenities for a large luxury SUV, including 18-inch wheels, three-row seating for seven (with captain's chairs in the second row), leather upholstery and multizone climate control. The Ultimate adds extras like a power rear liftgate, power-folding third-row seats and heated/cooled front seats. For '08, the Navigator line was trimmed down to a singular loaded trim level – in essence the previous Ultimate – and a rearview camera became optional.

Stability control (with rollover avoidance logic), front-seat side airbags and curtain airbags for outboard passengers are standard fare on all Navigators. Safety-conscious buyers should note that Navigators sold before '07 did not have front-seat side airbags and only provided side curtain coverage for the first two rows of seating. Stability control was optional, rather than standard, up until the '05 model year.

Major options on the big Lincoln include a second-row bench seat (increasing seating capacity to eight), DVD navigation, rear-seat DVD entertainment, power running boards and 20-inch chrome wheels.

The ability to seat adults comfortably in all three rows of seats is the Lincoln Navigator's greatest advantage over other full-size competitors, most notably the Cadillac Escalade. The Navigator's independent rear suspension allows for a lower floor, which opens up more rear legroom while providing fold-flat capability for the third row. Interior materials in the Navigator have typically been a bit below average for this class, but the '07 refresh saw Lincoln's flagship gain higher-grade furnishings, along with an old-timer set of square gauges.

However, the Lincoln still lacks the standout performance expected of today's luxury SUVs, as its 5.4-liter V8 feels a bit breathless next to the V8s in the Escalade, Infiniti QX56 and Mercedes-Benz GL450. Consumers looking at used Lincoln Navigators would be wise to confine their search to '05 and newer models, as Navigators sold in '03 and '04 had an older version of the 5.4-liter engine. It had 300-hp rating but produced less torque than the current engine. It also came paired to a less sophisticated four-speed automatic transmission.

Past Lincoln Navigator models

The original Lincoln Navigator was sold from 1998-2002. It arrived one year after Ford's Expedition hit the market and was basically a rebadged version of that vehicle but with softer leather, extra wood grain trim and additional chrome detailing. The differences weren't so easy to spot, especially on the inside where Lincoln's dash design hardly differed at all. In fact, the Navigator's most noticeable distinction over the Expedition was its higher price, and indeed the first-gen Navigator enjoyed one of the highest profit margins of any vehicle on the market.

First-year Navigators were considered underpowered, as a 230-hp 5.4-liter V8 was their sole source of motivation. Things improved in 1999 when the Navigator got exclusive access to a 300-hp, double-overhead-cam version of the 5.4-liter V8. Compared to today's large SUVs, the first-gen Navigator was decidedly trucklike in its demeanor. Continual course correction was necessary to keep it pointed straight ahead on the highway, and the steering had a disconnected feel, whether you were finessing the Lincoln into a parking space or going around a curve at speed.

If you're shopping for a used Lincoln Navigator from this generation, it's a good idea to pay attention to the year-by-year changes. In addition to the more powerful V8, 1999 Navigators gained power-adjustable pedals and more easily removable third-row seats (thanks to rollers mounted on the bottoms). For 2000, the Navigator received front-seat side airbags, much needed optional rear parking sensors and a CD-based navigation system. Rear-seat video entertainment joined the options list in 2001, albeit in archaic VHS tape format.

No comments:

Post a Comment