Before the Cadillac Escalade seized the crown as America’s most aspirational SUV, there was the Lincoln Navigator. And this next generation model has been positioned to be the most formidable competitor yet. Impressive in size and stature, this is what it’s like to ride large and in charge.
With a starting price of over $77,000, the Navigator serves select families; the kind who casually order the Wagyu steak and book the Grand Floridian for their annual Disney vacation. Much like the Escalade with which it competes, the Navigator is showy, extravagant and unapologetically American.
With its lit grille star, 22” black wheels and a cabin that lavishes its occupants with 30-way adjustable massaging seats, this is the height of conspicuous consumption in the large SUV class.
Now in model year 3 of this generation, the 2020 Navigator offers this Monochromatic Package, specific to the Reserve and Pristine White is one of the 3 available colors. So where you’d typically see chrome or black trim is whiter for what Lincoln describes as clean, dramatic and designed to turn heads. Now if they’d only carried it over to the wheels…
This Navigator Reserve with the aforementioned Monochromatic and Luxury Packages stickers for just over $92,000 and for that it provides some true standout moments.
Interior designers have created a mobile sanctuary that is quiet, intuitive, and incredibly spacious in all 3 rows. Nighttime is when the Navigator truly pops with changeable ambient lighting, logo projections and provocative exterior illumination. It’s really big so the running boards are a necessity but once inside the driver is imbued with a sense of calm control fortified by a robust 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque.
This Navi can get and up and go with the best of them, but the twin-turbo V6 and 10-speed auto can only go so far to rein in the fuel economy, where I’ve averaged a thirsty 16mpg. But, that is actually better than the Escalade’s 14mpg and the Lincoln at least doesn’t require premium gas. Towing is maxed at 8,300 pounds for this 4-wheel drive model.
Despite the fact that the electronics have been a little glitchy, I’m super-impressed with how the Navigator has matured. We took it through New England’s windy and occasionally snow covered roads this weekend and it just went about business like a tank. But it drives smaller than its actual size with superb steering, loads of power and nimble handling.
So with every convenience at your fingertips including massaging seats, the spaciousness of a small apartment and a really quiet cabin, this is how those living the good life get to travel.
I love how the heated seats and steering wheel magically know when to come on and to what degree, the massage program is accessible without using the touchscreen for easy activation, the various controls are as beautiful as they are simple to use and the drive programs – such as Excite for dynamic driving and Slippery for winter driving – are well conceived and graphically displayed. Surprisingly, there is no air suspension so you can’t raise or lower the vehicle for loading or off-roading but the adaptive dampers do a decent job of scrubbing out rough pavement though I’d appreciate an even softer setting. The handling, however, is phenomenal for such a large vehicle. And passengers can stretch out and relax in quiet comfort with 2nd row seats that move quickly out the way for access to the spacious 3rd row which includes strategically placed air vents and power recline. You can also order the Navigator with a 2nd row bench seat if you so choose.
But my tester has suffered from some electronic gremlins so I’ve not been able to activate the new Phone As A Key feature, now standard, that uses the Lincoln Way app on your smartphone to permit operation without the key fob.
The ambient lighting icon has also disappeared so whatever color comes up is what I get. And there’ve been times when the screen has simply gone blank.
There’re also some areas that are in need of updating and that apparently is due next year. The driver information display should offer some real configurability – it currently does not. The wireless charge pad is nice but where’s the wireless Apple CarPlay? And the 20 speaker Revel Ultima sound system is one of the more disappointing high end setups I’ve tested with a thin sound profile.
Otherwise, this Lincoln has the solid resume of a big bucks luxury SUV – it’s a joy for long travel. And if you need more cargo room, there’s always the Navigator L with an added foot of length.