At this moment, I feel like biggest thing on the planet. I?m driving the 2007 Lincoln Navigator, a Titanic-sized sport-utility vehicle whose interior mimics a well-furnished yacht. From where I sit, people look like ants. Every vehicle on the road, except for the Hummer, seems diminutive by comparison. I think I might need a ladder to disembark, but fortunately, there?s a sideboard that deploys when I open the door. Still, I feel like a Lilliputian aboard the great ship Gulliver.
With seating for up to eight passengers and a 135-foot cargo floor, the new Navigator is not a vehicle for the feint of heart. Curb weight on the four-by-four model is just over 6,000 pounds. Don?t even ask about fuel economy. There is none.
But for those who can afford it, the Navigator is a very luxurious way to transport lots of people and their gear on or off the road. Despite its weight, the Navigator accelerates hard off the line, propelled by a 300 horsepower V8 engine, which delivers up to 365 lbs.-ft. of torque. The standard six-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly. I never noticed shift shock during my week-long test drive.
Visibility around the truck is remarkably good. The ample side mirrors are easy to adjust, and feature side marker lights that flash with the turn signals, to make the vehicle more visible for cars to either side. While no vehicle with a 119-inch wheelbase turns on a dime, the rack and pinion steering system feels positive at all speeds. The test vehicle came with optional twenty-inch rims and low-profile tires ($1,495), providing a wider footprint than the standard eighteen-inch wheel package. The fully independent suspension is plush but not overly soft.
Standard four-channel antilock brakes provide a margin of comfort for a vehicle with so much mass, especially for drivers living in winter climates. Roll stability control is also standard. Ford?s safety canopy with rollover sensing utilizes side-curtain airbags with tethers to hold all three rows of passengers in place in the event of a rollover.
Standard high-intensity discharge headlamps provide a long, bright beam of light for night driving.
Engineers reduced the noise-intrusion over the previous model by adding additional insulation to the headliner and dashboard. They also utilized additional padding in the carpeting to reduce road noise, and thicker side glass to minimize wind noise. The body of the current model has a stiffer chassis than the old model: that translates to less squeaks and rattles, and better handling characteristics. Finally, engineers tuned the side mirrors to minimize wind noise into the cabin.
Luxurious, spacious interior
The Navigator can seat up to eight passengers, with a 40/20/40 split second-row seat and 60/60 split third row seat. All passengers have plenty of cupholders to choose from: all big enough to hold water bottles. There are map pockets in all four doors as well as on the seatbacks of the first-row seats. Ten-way power front seats with seat heaters are standard. So are power-adjustable pedals for smaller drivers. The driver?s seat is easy to adjust for comfort and forward visibility, and is firm enough to provide good lower lumbar support.
The center console up front has a large, deep storage compartment that?s big enough for a purse or small pack, a change dispenser and a MP3 jack. Both first and second-row passengers have access to a 12-volt power point. The second row seats fold and tumble to easy access to the third row.
Buyers who regularly haul lots of gear will love the power folding rear seats. They deploy with a single button, folding flat into the floor. A single lever to the side of each second-row seat folds the seat flat as well, creating an exceptionally long, functional load floor. The Navigator will easily hold a couple of bikes inside with the third-row seats folded, assuming the front wheels are removed.
Buyers looking for additional cargo space can upgrade to the extended-length, Navigator L model. The Navigator L?s wheelbase is twelve inches longer than the standard car, adding 25 feet of additional cargo space behind the third-row seat. However the standard car is quite long as it is: 208 inches end to end. The L model adds another fifteen inches, making it almost impossible to park in a standard garage, or fit comfortably in most driveways.
The test truck came with an elite option package ($5,450) that included satellite radio and a rear-seat DVD system. I didn?t test the DVD player, but the fourteen-speaker audio system delivered excellent sound throughout the vehicle. The option package also includes a free six-month subscription to Sirius satellite radio, an electro chromic dimming rear mirror and the power deploying running boards.
Plenty of towing capacity
The Navigator is a body-on-frame design, which is ideal for towing large loads. The four-by-four truck tested can tow up to 8750 pounds. The rear-wheel drive model adds another two hundred pounds of towing capacity, for buyers who don?t need the off-road capability.
The Lincoln Navigator and Navigator L are produced in the United States, at Ford?s Michigan truck plant. They are currently available for test drives at Lincoln dealerships throughout the country.
Likes: Excellent ride and handling characteristics, with above-average steering response for a vehicle of this size. Visibility is good all the way around the car. The interior is comfortable and versatile. The power folding third-row seat is a great feature.
Dislikes: Poor fuel economy means relatively high maintenance costs. Those drivers living in urban areas where parking is limited should make sure that they can accommodate a vehicle of this size.