The 2012 Lincoln Navigator's close kin to the Ford Expedition. However, Ford's done a good job distinguishing the vehicles, at least on the inside. They share all their dimensions and seating capacities, but the Navigator in general is finished more nicely, with better materials and a few more features here and there.
Vehicles as large as the Navigator can sometimes disappoint on functionality. That's not the case here, where big seats with tremendous space define one of the best big-SUV interiors available. Lincoln mimics GMC in offering the Navigator in two overall lengths, with the "L" model adding 14.7 inches of overall length to the basic shape. It also doles out an additional 24.5 cubic feet of cargo space, compared to the short-wheelbase version, which has at least 18 cubic feet behind the third-row seats. With the second- and third-row seats lowered, cargo space grows to 103.5 in the standard edition and in the L, to 128.2 cubic feet.
Either Navigator offers the kind of adult-sized room that makes these SUVs great long-distance tourers for a mature crew. In front, the buckets are wide and only slightly bolstered, but soft to the touch, and with extra space in every direction. The second-row seat doesn't lose much space; it's available as a bench or as a pair of buckets. The third-row seat is where grown-ups will feel the pinch, not only in entry and exit but ultimately in seat comfort--at least on base versions, where it's more cramped and more difficult to get back there. In L versions, the space is actually usable by fully grown adult men. The seat isn't nearly as compromised as it is in many other vehicles, though two big guys max will fit (or three kids, which gives the Navigator its eight-seat rating).
Power fold capability means the third row can be quickly and easily stowed when not in use, and the power fold feature can be used to scoot faraway cargo toward the rear, as it moves the cargo aft when unfolding the seats.
Lincoln does a fine job transforming the big SUV's interior with premium materials, though there are a few inexpensive-looking passages. Real wood trim and leather upholstery have the ideal upscale look and feel, but they're flanked by hard plastics, chrome-painted trim, and some cheap-feeling switchgear. The payoff of additional insulation and noise-canceling materials is worthwhile; the only exception is that you hear the engine a little too much.