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TheCarConnection.com's editors researched road tests on the new 2008 Ford Expedition to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove both the Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln Navigator L. This research and experience give this team the ability to offer you an authoritative opinion on this luxurious full-size SUV. This review also pits the 2008 Navigator against other full-size SUVs to give you the best advice even when other reviews might present differing opinions.
Funny to think that the full-size SUV has only been around since 1998, and back then, they were just glorified work trucks--not exactly pigs with lipstick, but you get the idea. Today, the full-size luxury SUV segment is well populated with capable vehicles from three continents.
The Lincoln Navigator slides into 2008 after a major overhaul in 2007, so the changes for this year are pretty slim. Some editors at TheCarConnection.com like the looks of this full-size SUV, as it recalls the grille work of the classic Lincoln Continental models from the early 1960s. Other editors think the style can be classified as "overkill in chrome." Regardless, the appearance is immediately recognizable as Lincoln, so at least it gets props for that.
As it did last year, the 2008 Navigator comes in two editions for 2008: standard and long-wheelbase L, which is 14.7 inches longer than the standard model and has more storage capacity (42.7 cubic feet. vs. 18.2 cubic feet). With both the second- and third-row seats folded, the standard Navigator boasts 103.5 cubic feet of cargo space, while the L model ups that to a cavernous 128.2 cubic feet.
The Navigator is a large SUV in the latest idiom, with an independent suspension and smooth V-8 power. Both versions of the Navigator are powered by the same 300-horsepower, 5.4-liter V-8 also used in the Mark LT pickup and the Ford Expedition (a kissing cousin to the Navigator). In the Navigator, this engine is teamed up with a six-speed automatic transmission. Rear- and four-wheel-drive versions are available, as before. The Navigator's maximum tow rating is a very impressive 9,100 pounds.
Safety-wise, the 2008 Lincoln Navigator performs very well in government front and side crash tests. Additionally, Stability Roll Control and other dynamic safety equipment are standard.
When it comes to driving the big "Gator," it's easy to see that Lincoln knows what it's doing. The four-wheel independent suspension provides a smooth ride, but there's a fair amount of roll in corners. Ultimately, the handling is secure, but this isn't a truck that likes hustling. The engine does provide good power, but compared to other V-8 engines in the class, the Ford-sourced 5.4-liter isn't overly impressive. The six-speed automatic did make the 2008 Lincoln Navigator a pleasant cruiser, helping to keep engine speed down at interstate speeds.
The powertrain contributed to the quietness of the comfortable interior. The interior's design, function, and comfort are good, and much more upscale than the Ford Expedition. The Lincoln-style gauges are a fun throwback, and even the third-row seats are comfortable. When not needed, the power-fold feature on those seats is especially convenient. As one editor of TheCarConnection.com recently experienced, cargo that is beyond the reach of one's arm can be "slid" toward the tailgate's opening by unfolding the third-row seat; as the seat raises itself, the cargo shifts rearward.
The updates for the 2008 Lincoln Navigator are limited to comfort and convenience features. There's a standard power liftgate in the back, along with heated and cooled front seats, Sirius Satellite Radio, a THX II-certified audio system, and a power-folding third-row seat, as well as the convenience and safety of a standard rearview camera.
New options for the 2008 model year include a Monochrome Limited Edition Package with new outer trim and cladding, power-folding side rear mirrors, and unique badging. Inside, the Monochrome package adds black carpet and floor mats, black wood trim, and distinct seats with black-leather inserts and Lincoln logos stitched on the headrests. Stand-alone options now include 20-inch chromed aluminum wheels, premium leather seats, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, power running boards (standard on the L), and a power moonroof.
The Europeans competing in this segment are serious about delivering an excellent driving experience. Frankly, it's hard to beat the Mercedes GL if you can afford it. The Land Rover Range Rover is smaller than the Navigator, and it drives smaller, too. However, it's big enough, and if you'd ever think of venturing off-road, the Land Rover is simply amazing. However, the reliability on the Rover isn't sterling.
The Japanese luxury SUVs aren't the class leaders in this category of vehicle. The big Lincoln Navigator will outhaul them, and it offers more interior gadgets; plus, the quality issue isn't the trump card it used to be. Furthermore, the styling (especially for the Infiniti QX56) of these SUVs is somewhat awkward or undistinguished.