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2005 Lincoln Navigator Photo
Quick Take
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The bling crowd may have dumped the Navigator like a jilted lover in favor of the edgy Cadillac Escalade, but that hasn’t stopped Lincoln from doing its best to win them back. Witness the black metallic “monotone” appearance package and 18-inch chrome wheel-equipped 2005 Navigator.

The truck looks ready for its scene in a rap music video, but it is still qualified for country club duty. The power-operated running boards leap into place to assist the most petite pilot in ascending to her perch atop the mighty Navigator, though for those of us with adult male-length legs, the running boards serve only to obstruct the route into and out of the driver’s seat.

For households with one of each type of driver, the running board can be easily switched off, along with myriad other options such as the seat that automatically slides back to ease ingress and egress for those who demonstrate their financial success through their girth.

 

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The country club set will also appreciate the power-operated tailgate that provides access to golf clubs stowed in the rear cargo hold. That stowage space is created when the driver folds the third-row seats at the press of a button. They only use those seats when the grandkids come to visit anyway, and thanks to the power tailgate and seats, their only exertion is lifting the clubs out of the back and into the waiting golf cart.

Undercover improvements

2003 Lincoln Navigator

2003 Lincoln Navigator

Enlarge Photo
It is possible that neither the urban nor the suburban demographic will notice the new hardware for 2005: Ford’s improved SOHC three-valve-per-cylinder 5.4-liter Triton V-8 engine and the new ZF six-speed automatic transmission. The engine, which debuted in the F-150 pickup last year, produces the same 300 horsepower and more torque than the previous 5.4-liter DOHC four-valve engine, but in a more compact and efficient, and less-costly, package.

Despite the move to a “lower” tech single-overhead cam design with three valves per cylinder, the new engine purrs silently at idle and pulls impressively when asked. Likewise, the ZF six-speed transmission — the same one used in the Jaguar XJ8 — is a refined and much-needed replacement for the previous four-speed automatic. The new transmission slides almost imperceptibly from one gear to the next, and with six ratios at its disposal, the Navigator can lift a heavy boat on its trailer up from a landing more easily thanks to a lower first gear, while saving gas on the highway with a higher top gear.

Both the engine and transmission work fantastically in practice; the combination is truly worthy of the prestige the Lincoln name once commanded. The disappointment came at the gas pump, where despite the changes, the Navigator proved just as thirsty as its predecessor and less economical than GM’s big SUVs in highway towing duty. And, premium fuel is still required for maximum power.

Plush pal

Inside, the Navigator is plush, with soft leather and rich-looking American walnut trim as far as the eye can see. The cold cathode instrument panel is one of those that is blacked-out when switched off, and then pops to life with a turn of the key. It really conveys an impression of luxury that too many truck-derived luxury SUVs, especially the Cadillac Escalade, lack.

The Infiniti-like central analog clock looks good, and also contributes to the overall effect. Only the large plastic door covering the navigation screen detracts from the otherwise uninterrupted richness of the interior. Ford is committed to corporate sameness among too many of its components, and the cheap solution for designers is to hide some of those bland-looking parts behind a plastic cover. This is an area where the company needs to recognize that its radios and other controls need to have styling matched to the vehicle in which they are installed.

Another instance of corner-cutting is the absence of one-touch up and down window switches for all four windows in the Navigator. Lincoln only provides that convenience for the driver’s window, even though the company cheaped out by installing a centrally mounted set of window switches in the center console, rather than giving the driver and front seat passenger separate controls mounted on their doors.

I know the money for that instrument panel had to come from somewhere, but drivers use the window switches almost every time they drive, and cutting this corner is a good way to remind them that the company was more concerned with saving money in a vehicle with a $64,430 sticker price, than it was in getting the product right.

The dub look

Regardless, these are minor quibbles in a vehicle that boasts exemplary ride and handling, thanks to its accurate rack and pinion steering and independent rear suspension. To recap, since the Navigator (and Ford Expedition) were redesigned a couple model years ago, it has benefited from a sophisticated suspension and steering system that provides both a good ride and impressively responsive handling for a vehicle of this size.

The massive 18-inch chrome wheels may not quite be dubs, but they leave plenty of room inside for the huge 13.0-inch front brake discs and 13.5-inch rears. The wheels carry enormous P275/65R18 tires that would look at home on a Kenworth, so they should easily carry the Navigator’s load.

Anti-lock brakes and AdvanceTrac stability control are joined on the active safety roster for 2005 by the Roll Stability Control system we first saw used on the Volvo XC90. These are critical safety systems, and we can only hope that they trickle down as standard equipment from the top of the line to include all new vehicles as soon as possible. The dual air bags, safety air canopy, and tire-pressure monitoring system provide additional safety, while the high-intensity discharge headlights and perimeter lighting boost the driver’s nighttime visibility, both when driving and when parked.

The super-duper six-disc CD sound system with subwoofer led to a surprising discovery regarding a classic hard-rock hit. After thumping through a song for which the subwoofer produced a surprisingly strong drumbeat, the next song on the radio was the signature hit of reality TV icon Ozzy Osborne, “Crazy Train.” Do you know that song has almost no drumbeat at all? I never noticed before, and just sort of assumed that like most metal songs it would. But it doesn’t.

The seven-inch LCD video screen provides entertainment for your back-seaters while in transit, using a thankfully simple DVD player built into the overhead unit. Too many video systems are simply too complicated, but even adults can operate the Lincoln’s video system.

In conclusion, Lincoln has produced a luxury SUV that is a true competitor for the world’s best, with quality details and superior execution that makes the Navigator worthy of consideration on the shopping lists of professional athletes and upscale suburbanites alike. Customers who need more space than the Germans offer should visit their Lincoln dealer, where they might be surprised to find such a comfortable and apparently well-made vehicle.


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2005 Lincoln Navigator Ultimate 4x4
Base Price: $56,290
Price As Tested: $64,430
Engine: SOHC 5.4-liter three-valve V-8, 300 hp/365 lb.-ft
Transmission: Six-speed ZF automatic, full-time all-wheel-drive
Length x width x height: 207.5 x 78.7 x 77.8 in.
Wheelbase: 118.8 in.
Curb weight: 5842 lb.
Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): 13/18 mpg (4x2)
Safety equipment: Dual front airbags, side air curtain (first and second rows), AdvanceTrac stability control system with Rollover Stability Control, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring
Major standard equipment: Dual zone automatic climate control, rear aux. climate control, heated and cooled front seats, leather seating surfaces, in-dash 6-CD AM/FM stereo
Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles, 12-month/12,000 mile free maintenance, 24-hour roadside assistance

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