Lincoln Goes For Broke On Luxury
Two years ago, we staged a hotly contested Big Test of the six biggest, most luxurious SUVs on the market. We liked the Lincoln Navigator’s powertrain and all-around utility, but we found the luxury lacking. Regardless of anything else that’s changed since then, we won’t be able to say the same about the all-new 2018 Lincoln Navigator.
Whereas the previous-generation Navigator was just a refresh of an older truck and limited by the technology baked into the old platform, the new ’Gator suffers no such restraints. Lincoln has instead gone whole hog in extending its Quiet Luxury philosophy to its biggest vehicle.
Quieting the interior of the new Navigator employs several technologies. First up are laminated windows to keep the noise out, followed by a noise-canceling system to catch what’s left. The heating and cooling ducts have been tuned to minimize noise, as have the tires. Anything that gets through all that can be drowned out by the 20-speaker Revel Ultima stereo, but you won’t have to crank it up much to get the job done.
You’ll have a lot of options for what comes out of those speakers. In addition to the usual radio sources, the Navigator also accepts inputs from your phone, either via the USB or Bluetooth, and supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Second-row passengers even get their own audio controls. They can also be hooked up with an optional entertainment system, which mounts 10.0-inch screens to the backs of the front seats. The screens can be fed from SD, HDMI, and quick-charging 2.5-amp USB ports, or wirelessly from your Android phone, and can stream different content on each screen. If you’ve got Slingbox at home, you can even watch live TV. The Navigator also comes with an onboard Wi-Fi hot spot if you’d prefer to be online.
Whatever your entertainment, you’ll enjoy it from the comfort of French-stitched leather seats in all rows. Up front, Lincoln’s heated and cooled 30-way power seats with memory settings are standard for both occupants and feature massage functions, and the second row can be had as a three-passenger bench or two captain’s chairs. Either way, the second row gets its own climate controls, and the seats can tilt and slide even with a baby seat installed for third-row access. Back there, the only option is a 60/40 split bench with three seats, but the two sides power recline independently (Lincoln claims best-in-class second- and third-row legroom). All three rows have two USB ports and one 12-volt port (plus a fourth in the cargo area), and there’s a 110-volt outlet in the second row. A panoramic sunroof lets everyone feel the sun on their face.
Behind the third row, the cargo floorboard can also act as a shelf or a vertical partition to keep your things in place. The cargo area can be accessed by opening the full hatch or just the rear glass.
Wherever you plan on sitting, you’ll be greeted by Lincoln’s signature Embrace light show. As you approach, the Lincoln badge in the grille lights up, the LED running lights and taillights activate in sequence, the welcome mat puddle lamp illuminates the ground below the front doors, lights behind the door handles come on, the interior lights go on in sequence, and the power running boards (except on the base model) deploy. Even the seat belt buckles have LEDs embedded in them.
Once in, Lincoln has made sure everything you touch feels expensive. In addition to the seats, the steering wheel and even the grab handles are all wrapped in stitched leather. The push-button shifter moves below the infotainment touchscreen and is designed to look like the keys of a Steinway piano and finished in high-gloss ebony.
As you settle in and stash your bag or purse in the dedicated storage space below the floating center console and your phone in the wireless charging tray, the Navigator will recognize which key fob you’re carrying and adjust up to 80 vehicle settings, everything from radio presets to mirrors, pedals, and cabin temperature.
Fire up the engine, and you have six driving modes to choose from, each of which reconfigures the 12.0-inch all-digital dash cluster. (You can reconfigure it as you like, too.) Normal is the default, Conserve means eco, and Excite means sport. Slippery handles rain, ice, and dirt roads, and Deep Conditions handles deep snow, sand, and mud. Slow Climb locks the rear differential for ascending steep hills off-road. The computer recognizes when a trailer’s been attached and automatically goes into a towing mode. All modes make changes to the throttle mapping, shift points, CCD active dampers, and stability control.
On the road, a standard 360-degree camera system and parking sensors will assist with tight maneuvers, and an optional trailer assist system will help you back a trailer from a controller on the center console. Adaptive cruise control will take some of the load off during long road trips and bad commutes.
The sole engine option is Lincoln’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6, now with an estimated 450 horsepower, 500 lb-ft of torque, and auto stop/start technology. It drives a 10-speed automatic gearbox and an all-wheel-drive system with an electronically locking rear differential. Lincoln promises class-leading performance, towing, and fuel efficiency out of the 2018 Navigator, which is 200 pounds lighter than its predecessor. Lincoln no doubt considers its primary competition to be the Cadillac Escalade, so the Navigator would need to hit 60 mph in less than 5.9 seconds, score better than 15/21/17 mpg (15.7/11.2/13.8 L/100km) city/highway/combined on the EPA cycle, and tow more than 8,300 pounds. None of that should be hard, as the old ’Gator hit 60 mph in 6.2 seconds with less power, scored 15/20/17 mpg (15.7/11.8/13.8 L/100km) at the EPA, and towed 9,000 pounds. When asked about other engine options from the stable, a Lincoln representative said Navigator customers aren’t looking for any less power.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator will go on sale late this year. Given the level of improvements over the outgoing ’Gator, we expect the old $64,000 USD starting price to climb significantly closer to the Cadillac Escalade’s $74,000 USD entry price.