Christopher Little

New Heights: 2018 Lincoln Navigator

There isn’t much time to stop and think of the numbers while you’re behind the wheel of the all-new 2018 Lincoln Navigator. But there are lots of numbers to consider; 450 horsepower, 30-way adjustable seats, 20-speaker sound system, 10-speed transmission, and the list goes on. The Navigator seamlessly wraps all these into a luxury vehicle that is best described as an experience.

Walking up to this new, aluminum-bodied Navigator for the first time and the enormous Lincoln badge in the front grill illuminates with the LED running lights, door handle lights, and Lincoln-branded puddle lighting. The retractable sidesteps extend with a flourish, beckoning you to step inside. If you thought that this would be subtle luxury, this introduction should clue you in otherwise. In fact, there’s very little subtle about this seven passenger, near 3-ton SUV. Lincoln has completely redesigned the Navigator to be lighter, more powerful, and more comfortable than ever before. The core body-on-frame layout is still retained, but nearly 200lbs has been shed with the switch to aluminum body panels.

2018 Lincoln Navigator 3

Light plays a big role in the Navigator’s persona, and we’re not just talking about the massive rear LED running lights. Lincoln has developed speed-dependent adaptive lighting. At low speeds, the headlights allow for a wider spread to increase visibility. At speed, the beams narrow to prevent distracting reflections and interfering with other drivers. It’s a subtle addition to the brilliantly bright LED lights, and it could definitely prove helpful when trying to find your way to a destination after dark. Another helpful lighting feature is found inside, where each seat belt clip has its own light. It’s a simple and highly effective feature that makes it infinitely easier to buckle up in the dark.

Once you’re inside the Navigator, the outside world is left behind. The optional Perfect Position seats adjust a staggering 30 ways and offer heating, cooling, and massage functionality. Take the requisite 5 minutes to settle in and get each segment just right and you’ll be rewarded with the most comfortable car seat we’ve ever experienced. It’s like driving around in an expensive office chair. Laminated front and side glass, plus extensive sound deadening keep the noise out. Lincoln has introduced new Black Label trim variants on the Navigator to feature more lavish materials and color schemes at additional cost, but the standard interior is no slum. The ebony leather and santos rosewood trim on our Reserve tester extend throughout the cabin and highlight the huge center console. It transitions elegantly into the gloss black trim to envelop climate and media controls. Careful eyes will note that the console doesn’t connect to the dash, but rather floats in the center of the cabin. It’s a nice touch, and allows Lincoln to use the open space below to offer more storage. The brand’s signature transmission buttons are integrated into the dash trim, hiding them out of the way elegantly.

2018 Lincoln Navigator 1

The SYNC3 system works as well here as it ever has to operate the phone, navigation system, and suite of available apps. There’s also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration for even more connectivity. To power your devices, a wireless charging pad in the console and a total of 6 USB ports and four 12-volt outlets are spread throughout the cabin. Our tester came equipped with the optional rear-seat entertainment system. The two 10-inch screens can play content independently from each other and be connected to mobile devices for screen casting. An in-car wireless hotspot will allow up to 10 connected devices. One of the Navigator’s biggest talking points is its optional Revel ultima 20-speaker audio system. Each speaker is adorned with a Burmester-esque grate, and there sure are a lot of them. Sound quality was good, but fell short of other high end systems we’ve experienced, like the Volvo XC90.

Lincoln adopted a 3.5L twin-turbo V6 with the previous Navigator and we were impressed with its 380hp and 460lb-ft torque when we first drove it in 2015. But this new Navigator dials up the power output to 450hp and 510lb-ft torque. That engine and 10-speed automatic transmission is the same combination found in the new Ford Raptor. But instead of the abject fury of the Raptor’s soundtrack, the Navigator’s engine rumbles distantly as the RPMs build. There’s almost no vibration in the cabin, only a sensation of acceleration. The Navigator may be big, but the wealth of torque propels the nearly 3-ton SUV forward to 60mph in well under 6 seconds. Shifts are quick and nearly seamless from the new transmission, never feeling like we could have picked a more appropriate gear. Over 186 miles of cold and spirited driving, we average 15.8mpg.

Piloting the Navigator is a powerful experience. The size, responsiveness, and commanding position on the road owe to that effect. And for all its mass, the Navigator is not at all intimidating to drive with verve. Adaptive suspension does a lot to diminish road imperfections and keep the big body under control. There’s only so much you can dampen when you’re rolling with massive 22-inch wheels, however. In the same vein as the Cadillac Escalade, you will feel the road. But unlike the Escalade, the Navigator’s rear suspension is multi-link, enabling a less jittery ride over rough roads. The smoothness and confidence extends to controls at the helm. Lincoln has struck a nice balance between ease of driving and reminding you that an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

2018 Lincoln Navigator 9

In the two-and-a-half days we spent with the 2018 Lincoln Navigator, we experienced opulence and sophistication rarely seen in the full-size SUV segment. When you have time to stop and review the numbers, its staggering how much work has gone into this new model. But the new Navigator is more than the sum of its numbers. Both inside and out, Lincoln takes its technology and luxury features to new heights, keeping you and 6 of your best friends and family happy for hundreds of miles.

-Christopher Little

2018 Lincoln Navigator Reserve 4×4
Equipment Group 300A $0
Single CD Player $225
Revel Ulitma Audio System with 20 speakers $995
Technology Package $2,640
Perfect Position Seating 30-way adjustability with Active Motion $1,250
Lincoln Play Rear Seat Entertainment System with wireless headphone $1,995
Cargo Package $420
Destination Charges $1,195
As Tested MSRP $89,925

Boosted: 2015 Lincoln Navigator
Sequel: 2017 Ford Raptor

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