Navigator charts an upward course

You could think of the Lincoln Navigator as the wheeled equivalent of the Burj Al Arab. Given its massive dimensions, distinctive design and interior opulence, you get your money’s worth with this gargantuan SUV.
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The all-new, fourth-generation Navigator has been thoroughly redesigned and reengineered and, apart from the revamped styling that’s evident from the accompanying images, the newbie also features aluminium body construction to shed about 90kg from its sizable girth.

Lincoln’s engineers worked hard on the Navigator’s suspension to improve ride quality and overall refinement levels, and we think they’ve succeeded. The big Lincoln glides over most road-surface imperfections, so – ensconced within the plush cabin – you feel well isolated from the outside world. It’s evident that overall refinement levels have made a significant step forward, as wind and road noise are also well supressed, and the smooth, powerful 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 also goes about its business unobtrusively.

Another major contributing factor to the Navigator’s refinement is the brand-new 10-speed automatic transmission that replaces the old six-speed auto. Apart from lowering fuel consumption with its extra overdrive ratios, the 10-speeder shifts so seamlessly that you can’t even detect gearshifts from behind the wheel.

And that 450hp twin-turbo V6 is a potent engine that makes light work of propelling the 2.7-tonne Lincoln. In fact, it’s scarcely believable that a behemoth such as this could sprint from 0-100kph in just 5.6sec. This level of performance would have been unthinkable for a Navigator even five years ago.

The fourth-generation Navigator certainly delivers in terms of acceleration and refinement, and there’s no doubt it’s a much more stylish offering than its predecessor. Visually, it draws inspiration from its Continental sibling, especially in the style of its headlights, taillights, side vents, and its front fascia, with a large rectangular grille and a central Lincoln star emblem. While sharing its roofline and side doors with the Ford Expedition, the B, C, and D-pillars are blacked out for a Range Rover-mimicking ‘floating roof’ effect.

Despite a slight reduction in overall length, the new Navigator’s wheelbase has been stretched out to liberate more space inside the cabin. This means occupants in both second and third rows have ample kneeroom and headroom, and they’re well catered to by the comfortable, supportive seats. The cabin has a far more upmarket feel than before, with a much cleaner and more contemporary layout, and high-quality leather, wood and aluminium used throughout.

Although Navigators typically spend most of their working lives on tarmac, there are drive modes for a range of conditions and surfaces. These include 4x4 Automatic (the default setting), Slippery for mud and snow, Deep for even tougher terrain and Slow Climb, which you can only get as part of the optional tow package. Speaking of which, the Navigator can tow up to 4,000kg. And Lincoln makes it easy with the addition of trailer monitoring tech, as well as a handy back-up assist. As for other driving aids, blind-spot monitoring is standard, while Lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control are also available.

Navigators of yesteryear were big, hearty chariots, but they weren’t renowned for their class or sophistication. The latest model changes that. It’s a very likable king-size SUV.


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