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The 2014 Lincoln Navigator may be one of the last bastions of old-style American luxury, as embodied in a full-size, truck-based, body-on-frame luxury sport-utility vehicle. Lincoln's biggest and oldest vehicle offers a more luxurious take on the Ford Expedition, seemingly designed for the Middle American buyers it abandoned when the Town Car was discontinued. If success is signaled by a 72-ounce steak and an ever-present fantasy that you may need to tow a loaded horse trailer, this is the vehicle for you.
The design of the Navigator, based on a Ford F-150 from two generations earlier, is now relatively dated. It's not been substantially changed for almost a decade, and the smoothed-and-rounded corners of its boxy shape recall Ford's pickup trucks of years earlier. The same criticism applies to the Expedition as well, but the large Lincoln is now by far the oldest luxury utility vehicle in its segment.
At once iconic and retro (in both a good and bad way), the Navigator's design incorporates themes and trinkets from Lincoln heritage going back to the 1960s, employed with a boldness that compares to that of the Cadillac Escalade. Inside the retro-themed gauges and styling no longer look fresh (retro-grade?), although they convey the luxury message.
Vehicles as large as the Navigator can sometimes disappoint on functionality. But t here; you'll find big seats but also reasonably good versatility and one of the best interiors of any large SUV. And just like the Expedition and other SUVs in this class, the Navigator is offered in two different lengths--Navigator and Navigator L. The Navigator L adds 14.7 inches of overall length while doling out an additional 24.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Plus, power fold capability means the third row can be quickly and easily stowed when not in use, and it can be used to scoot faraway cargo toward the rear, as it moves the cargo aft when unfolding the seats.
It's under the hood where Lincoln's big SUV can be disappointing. The Navigator racks up yet another model year with a powertrain that puts it at a disadvantage compared to most other big, truck-based SUVs. With 310 horsepower, the Navigator's 5.4-liter V-8 is woefully underpowered against nearly every competing model. That makes it no surprise that the Navigator isn't quick--though the six-speed automatic transmission makes the best of it, delivering smooth, decisive shifts, and most of the lineup can be equipped with either rear- or four-wheel drive.
If you're okay with merely adequate power, the Navigator handles better than many other models this big and heavy. Its roadholding feels more confident--if hardly sporty--than you'd expect from the land yacht it is. The Navigator remains a reasonably match for weekend towing needs--at a rating of 9,100 pounds max--but consider that with a curb weight of around 6,200 pounds, it's a strained relationship.
Compared to the more basic models of the Ford Expedition, which the Navigator is related to, the Lincoln gets better materials and trims even though their interiors are essentially of the same design. Noise insulation, higher-grade materials and more touchable finishes make the Navigator a true luxury-grade vehicle. A few small exceptions to the quality feel are the hard plastic trim elements, chrome-painted plastics, and sometimes cheap-feeling switchgear. Despite the small downside, there's no shortage of handy small storage spaces or cupholders.
The 2014 Lincoln Navigator isn't cutting-edge, but it does offer a very long list of features combined with some over-the-top luxury features like cooled front seats, power-deploying running boards, and a power-folding third-row seat. What's sorely missing from the Navigator's feature set is a modern infotainment system, such as MyLincoln Touch. But an EasyFuel capless fuel fill and heated second-row seats are on the standard-feature list and options include a power moonroof, rear-seat DVD system, perimeter alarm, illuminated entry with approach lamps, remote start, and adjustable pedals.