2018 Lincoln Navigator review with video

The basics:

Starting price: $87,650 + tax
As tested: $100,100 + tax
Average fuel economy over a week: 12.5 L/100 kms (19 US MPG)
Competition: Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX, Mercedes GLS, etc.

Well, if size, comfort, capability and a healthy dose of luxury all top your list for you next car, Lincoln has a truck that deserves a good look. The Navigator has been around since the late 1990s but, honestly, it has been lagging behind in this class for a while. It hadn’t seen a total redesign for ten years. But that’s all changed for 2018. It has a whole tonne of best in class features but also really dollops on the creature comforts, too. We took it on a 1,000 road test to see how it compares – not only to its direct competitors, but also the new Ford Expedition, which this truck is based off of. Take a look at our full video review above then scroll through our report card below.

Pros:
The new Navigator jumps about $8,000 in price versus the previous model year. But it has some impressive standard equipment to show for it. The basic Select trim comes with leather, genuine wood and real aluminium inlays, three zones of climate control, a heated steering wheel, a panorama sunroof, push button and remote start, a 12 inch customizable LED instrument cluster in front of the driver, wireless charging bay for your phone, a 10 inch touch screen that’s based on the same Sync 3 infotainment system as we see from Ford (along with Apple Carplay and Android Auto), a 14 speaker Revel Audio sound system, and a reverse sensing system. Blind spot monitoring also comes standard and I’m glad to see that because we have some honking pillars here blocking visibility for shoulder checks. Also standard, a foot activated lift gate out back and LED headlights and taillights all around
– In terms of powertrain, you’ll find 4×4 comes standard along with a whole slough of drive modes – from conserve to deep snow to excite – depending on your needs or your mood
– Also standard is a variant of the 3.5 litre Ecoboost engine that’s available in the Expedition or the F-150. But it’s actually more similar to the twin turbo high output version of this engine that you’ll find in the rather nutty Ford Raptor. And it puts out similar figures – 450 horsepower, 510 foot pounds of torque. It can be a raging bull in excite mode but also super smooth and composed – not nearly as loud or in your face as the Raptor with just with a steady delivery of power for daily cruising
– And all this is mated up to the same ten speed automatic transmission we see from Ford
– You bring this combination together along with a much lighter, all new aluminium body for 2018 and despite all that madness on tap, we’ve still averaged 12.5 L/100 kms in our 1,000 km road test. That’s exactly the same as the Expedition when we tested it, despite having over 100 more horsepower
– Speaking of power, the Navigator also boasts best in class towing capacity. It can haul 8,400 lbs when it has the available heavy duty trailer package added to it. But because of all the bells and whistles on board, that actually falls 800 lbs behind the Expedition, which can tow up to 9,200 lbs
– No question, it’s capable and it’s big. And that’s something that you might lose track of until it comes time to pack yourself into a tight parking spot. The Navigator drives much smaller than it actually is with responsive steering and it has power to spare
– And the interior is decidedly upscale. I love that warm, real wood inlay rolling right behind the infotainment system screen. The centre console is disconnected from the dash, giving it a very cool floating look. The push button shift on the dash keeps things uncluttered. And the huge infotainment system screen is the largest Lincoln has ever offered. It looks good!
– In terms of passengers and cargo, the Navigator is tough to beat with best in class second row legroom, best in class third row legroom, best in class cargo volume. And these are all exactly the same dimensions we see in the Expedition
– That means we measured a phenomenal 31 inches up in the front seat during our rear facing car seat test
– There are the sliding second row seats to free up more cargo space or legroom for third row passengers
– And I love the new tilting second row that allows you to access that third row, even when you have a car seat installed
– The third row, by the way, is the most comfortable I’ve ever found myself in. An independent rear suspension in the back end of the Navigator, means there’s a lot more leg room, yes, even for full sized adults. There’s headroom to spare, too
– And to flip these seats down is a breeze in the Navigator. The press of a button from the trunk drops them down for quickly reconfiguring your cargo zone. And with 1627 litres behind the second row, our standardized trunk test barely made a dent into what this thing can haul around
– Then if you really need to crank up the cargo capacity, there’s the Navigator L… it’s almost a foot longer. And while it doesn’t actually affect third row leg room at all, it does nearly double the cargo capacity behind those third row seats. Here in this regular wheelbase Navigator, it is surprisingly tight for cargo when all three rows are up. So if you regularly have all three rows of seating filled up, the L might actually make the most sense for you – but the extra room will add $3,000 to your price tag

 

Cons:
– To get the very most power and economy out of this sport tuned engine, Lincoln is suggesting you use high octane fuel. That’s a first for the Navigator. However, when I spoke to a local Ford dealer, they suggested it’s a recommendation more than a must – I’ve used both this week and it seems happy and capable with either
– As mentioned, the Navigator has some solid towing capability. That comes largely from the fact that it shares a lot of DNA with the F-150 pick-up. The downside? It’s still a truck frame so it rides a little rougher than I was hoping – even when I’ve set it to be as plush as it can, I still felt a little rattled over rough dirt roads or uneven pavement
– It’s also a little noisier in here than I was expecting. Despite additional noise insulation over the Expedition and noise cancellation through the stereo, I’m actually getting higher ratings in our decibel reader test than I saw in the Ford, consistently at 67 db at 100 kms/hr this week. And I think a big part of that is the optional crossbars installed up on the roof for easily putting a ski box on top
– Not that you’d ever be able to reach it, though. The Navigator stands tall – well taller than me at 6’2 – which does make it an effort to climb in and out of this thing
– So if you do have a parkade or smaller garage in your daily drive, make sure the Navigator is going to fit – because it is rather massive
– Despite this truck’s hefty price tag, there are things that don’t come standard… even on the top-tier Reserve trim. There’s no chrome tipped exhaust. Safety features like adaptive cruise, lane departure warning, and forward collision braking cost extra. This is technology that’s now coming standard on the Toyota Corolla, so it seems like Lincoln could include it as standard equipment on a $90,000 luxury offering. Also extra, is the enhanced park assist for automatically squeezing this thing into those tight parking spaces.
– You’re going to have to pay more for the 30 way adjustable front seats, too. And while they’re very comfortable, I feel they’re going a bit too far in terms of adjustability. You can adjust the amount of support under each of your legs, which seems unnecessary and creates a big gap in the seats that’s prime for filling up with road trip crumbs
– You also get massage functions for the front two passengers with these optional seats but Ford could learn a lesson or two from Mercedes or Audi on massaging seats – these feel more like aliens probing around than a relaxing afternoon at the spa
– I would also caution that while this leather is very supple and comfortable, it does seem to knick up easily. Even just taking Roger’s car seat in and out, I got a scrape on one of the back seats. So if you’re hard on your seats, get some covers or be very careful
– And while we’re on the topic of wear and tear, while the piano black plastic through the cabin looks good, it also seems to get micro scratches in it very easily – even just from wiping up messes. And the cabin still has some cheaper feeling plastics in places, which don’t wear well over time, from our experience. So I’m just not sure if the Navigator will look quite so crisp and classy after a decade on the road

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 4/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 3.5/5 (67 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 5/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 3/5
Family Wheels value score: 3.5/5

Family Wheels overall score: 40/50= 80%

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