Size is the first thing that hits you when you first meet the Navigator L; it is big.
We spent a week with the all-new 2018 Lincoln Navigator L Reserve. This is a bottom up reboot of the previous Navigator, based on the same modern all-aluminum platform as the recently released Ford Expedition (reviewed here) and F-150. Built in Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant, the fourth generation Lincoln Navigator and Navigator L began production in September 2017 and you’d be hard pressed to find one in a dealership lot at the time of this writing.
There are two reasons for this: fans of the previous generation Expeditions and Navigators have been waiting for a modern refresh of the large ute, and sales appear to be strong. The second, and more interesting reason, however, is that Lincoln has taken a more upscale approach to selling the Navigator to potential clients – bringing the vehicle to your home for test drives and sales discussions.
Size is the first thing that hits you when you first meet the Navigator L; it is big. Not only is it the largest SUV ever made by Lincoln, it has a large presence when you are standing next to it in person. The front end is an upsized version of what you would find on the recently reborn Lincoln Continental (reviewed here) and the designers have taken advantage of the Navigator’s large size to make each of the eye-catching features of the design bigger and flashier. The emblem in the middle of the grille alone is about the size of a cup of coffee.
The second thing that hits you when you meet the Navigator is the luxurious design. Lincoln engineers put a lot of effort into making this vehicle look and feel like the premium upscale vehicle that it is meant to be, and they have knocked it out of the park, so much so that we kept checking the back seat to make sure there weren’t any movie stars or Fortune 500 execs waiting to be chauffeured around town.
The interior is roomy, with comfortable, well-appointed seating for seven (or eight if you opt for the 40/20/40 second row bench seating). Entry and exit from the third row is excellent thanks to ideally placed grab handles, and second row captain’s chairs that slide and tilt all the way forward. Full-sized adults will have no problem spending time in any of the seats, however we were unable to find a driving position that could suit a friend who was under five-feet tall, despite the adjustable pedals at maximum height – she simply couldn’t see over the dashboard.
The Reserve package is the top of the line trim, adding six additional speakers to the Select trim’s 14-speaker Revel Audio System as well as Perfect Position With Active Motion front seats, an optional second-row center console, front passenger seat memory, illuminated powered running boards (optional on the Select trim) 16-spoke 22” wheels (four more spokes than the Select gets!) and some additional interior lighting.
Our test vehicle was also optioned with the heavy duty trailer tow package ($2,000), Technology Package (Active Park Assist, Heads-up Display, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping System, Pre-Collision Assist), Lincoln Play Rear Seat Entertainment System ($2,350), Bright Roof Rack with Crossbars ($500), massage seat upgrades for the front row ($1,000) and the 6-spoke wheels ($1,000) which we think is well worth the money for the more youthful look.
The Navigator L has a single powertrain option, a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 engine rated for 450 horsepower at 5,500RPM and 510 lb-ft. of torque at 3,000RPM. It’s bolted to a 10-speed transmission, with a single-speed transfer case 4×4 system. Lincoln rates the Navigator L at 14.9L/100km city, 11.3L/100km highway for 13.3L/100km combined. With the 105.9L capacity tank full of fuel, bathroom breaks will just about be the only thing you’ll need to stop for on a road trip.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are integrated nicely into the in-dash infotainment system, which had an intuitive and responsive 10” touch screen, as well as physical buttons for the ever-important climate control and stereo. The heads-up display puts a ton of information right on the windshield, including vehicle speed, speed limits, and cruise control information. MSRP for the Navigator L Reserve starts at $94,150, and with the plethora of options our tester came out to a sticker price of $104,000.
City driving with the Navigator is a pleasant experience; with plenty of torque to push the 8100-pound (3674 kg) truck through all of the stop signs and bumper-to-bumper traffic you can throw at it, with just a slight touch of turbo lag. We didn’t mind being stuck in traffic, making good use of the adaptive cruise control, and massage seats to keep the front row happy, while the second row passengers were entertained by the two screens and wireless headphones. Content can be fed to the screens via classic RCA connectors, SD cards, USB, HDMI or even streamed via the onboard 4G connection.
Around the city, travelling over speed bumps and broken up asphalt upset the suspension a bit more than we would like. This is a vehicle that could benefit from an air ride or a more active suspension, versus the adaptive system that it is equipped with. City parking is a breeze as well thanks to the surround-view camera system, sensors on all four corners, and the Enhanced Active Park Assist that will do all of the work for you to get in and out of all kinds of spots.
Highway driving is where the Navigator really shines. The interior is very quiet, and the 10-speed transmission makes passing on the highway a smooth and effortless affair, while all of the safety vision systems ensure you make it to your destination incident-free even if you can’t see the subcompact driving next to you. Steering feel is adequate, but on the lighter side, especially when you consider the Navigator’s size.
Buyers interested in the extended version of the Navigator are all about the extra cargo capacity, which is an additional 426L (972L total) of space when passengers are seated in all three rows, and 450L more (2077L total) than the standard length Navigator with its third row folded down. Folding the second row seats nets a total cargo capacity of 3407L (479L more than the standard length). Speaking of folding seats, both the second and third rows can be individually power folded down using buttons located in the rear cargo area, and the third row can be retracted back up electrically as well.
Shoppers looking at full size SUVs such as the and GMC Yukon Denali (reviewed here) and Cadillac Escalade ESV would be foolish not to consider the Navigator L, however it all comes down to what the vehicle is used for. The competition from GM can be very similarly equipped to our test vehicle, but they also offer active Magnetic Ride suspension, and a two-speed transfer case. The Navigator is built on a forward-thinking platform, with its luxurious and modern interior, aluminum construction and an independent rear suspension.
Other three row SUVs like the Honda Pilot wouldn’t be considered competition for the Navigator L as they can’t come even close in terms of cargo capacity, however minivans like the Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica and Kia Sedona are to be considered here. Ride height, technology, 4×4 and towing capacity might be the deciding factor when it really comes down to it.
Overall, the 2018 Lincoln Navigator L Reserve is a welcome refresh over the previous model, and means the Lincoln brand has finally brought back a serious contender to the Escalade and Yukon Denali. The interior is fresh and modern, and it feels deserving of its six-figure price tag.
It’s important to note that General Motors is expected to launch updated versions of their full-size SUVs in 2020 on the T1 platform underpinning the new Silverado and Sierra. Ford has a great head start with the new Navigator, but this is a segment that will look very different as we move into the next decade.