- Unabashed, at long last
- Excellent twin-turbo V-6
- Even the third row’s spacious
- Black Label really means something
- Big displays, fine interface
- Bigger, heavier
- Astonishingly expensive, though it seems worth it
- Will Lincoln concierge service meet Lexus standards?
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator takes such massive doses of swagger, you’ll swear it’s 1998 all over again.
With its 2018 Navigator, Lincoln takes a swing at smaller, more prestigious luxury SUVs that stole its sales crown a couple of decades ago.
At one time in the late 1990s, the Lincoln Navigator was the Escalade, the Range Rover to NFL running backs, movie stars, and music entrepreneurs alike.
Today it’s returned to fine star-coddling form. It’s a stunning piece of luxury hardware that gives no quarter to hard-edged, featureless performance. It is all about glamour, and it doesn’t care who knows how much it weighs or how much it drinks.
The 2018 Navigator is as great at sensory-overload luxury as a Bentayga. And it has more room. And it’s half the price. At most.
It’s a 7.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This time, the Navigator is new from the wheel bolts on up. It’s more powerful and incredibly more plush. It remains based on the Ford Expedition, which has also been rebooted for the 2018 model year, and shares the same basic side profile, but the Lincoln differs dramatically in its styling. A tall front end imparts a far more dramatic look than the outgoing model with its hefty inset chrome grille that looks like it could have been plucked (and stretched) from the brand's Continental sedan. At the rear, big tail lamps stretch all the way across the rear gate. Intricate swirled wheel designs inject drama where it meets the road. The cabin’s an uproar of chrome, glossy wood panels, and high-resolution screens. Lavish seems like understatement.
A 6,000-pound SUV that can scramble to 60 mph in under 6 seconds usually wears a Porsche or Jeep badge, but the Navigator’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 throws off 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque to either the rear or all four wheels through a 10-speed automatic. Adaptive dampers and steering give the Navigator a lightness absent from GM’s big SUVs, but the Navigator isn't as much about burning rubber as it is providing an isolating experience inside. In its 8- or 7-passenger cabin, thick sound damping and side glass quiet the outside world and give passengers--even six-footers who enjoy substantial third-row room--the chance to reflect on its showy, spectacular cabin.
High-tech features range the gamut, from a built-in WiFi antenna with 4G LTE connectivity to the 12-inch screen that takes the place of conventional analog gauges. A rear seat entertainment system features wireless Android device mirroring, a boon for those traveling long distances with the whole family aboard.
The Navigator also has a less intrusive infotainment system than we’ve come to expect from a luxury vehicle with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. At the pinnacle of the Navigator lineup, Revel audio comes with 20 speakers, and Slingbox access streams home TV into the rear seat.
Top off the abundant space and rippling power with a Black Label theme--Chalet, Destination, the fabulous blue-and-white Yacht Club look--and the Navigator can convince anyone that Lincoln’s best days still lie ahead.
2018 Lincoln Navigator prices start from about $74,000, and top out at more than $100,000.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator throws off its hand-me-down schmatta and wraps itself in a glamorous new wardrobe.
Unkind souls might look at the 2018 Lincoln Navigator and see a vehicle not much differentiated from the latest Ford Expedition.
We beg to differ, but only a little. In the Navigator’s case, it’s what’s inside that counts, and it’s why the Lincoln earns a couple of above-average points for its cabin, one more than its kin.
We call it an 8 for styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
From the outside, the Navigator has cleaned up its act in significant ways from its long-running predecessor. Where the SUV lacked crisp details and subtle surfaces, the 2018 Navigator wears them like couture.
The new Navi’s corners and creases pay handsome homage to Lincoln’s past. Large headlights flank a mesh grille that wears the vertical-gunsight badge with a flourish. It’s an LED flourish on high-end models, which light up the logo as well as puddle lamps that cast a Lincoln glow on the ground. At the back, the thick swath of lighting and branding looks like it’s been sent over from some Sixties central-casting office.
The balance between a conjured-up past and a clean-edged present is a particular Navigator delight. Clearly the years of rubbed elbows with Range Rover designers left a mark. The sideview of the Navigator has the slim, pillar-free appeal of the latest Landies. Long chromed fender vents and swirling wheel designs amp up the signals that would be tamped down by a more heavily edited design squad. The Navigator’s exuberant and playful, something that can’t be said at all about today’s starker English SUVs.
Just wait until you step inside. If you thought the exterior worked, if you thought the Expedition’s fancy cabin couldn’t be one-upped, the Navigator has an oasis in store for you. The shapes are again on Land Rover point, with a wide horizontal dash intersected by a furniture-like center console. High-definition displays dazzle from behind the steering wheel and from atop the center of the dash. We’re convinced if any passenger sat too long in the front seats, they too would be rimmed in metallic trim, like nearly every control or panel in the Navigator’s cockpit.
Enough of the base model. Take a look at a Black Label Navigator. With the nearly hundred-grand pricetag fully in mind, we bet you’ll still swoon over the themes stylists have daubed over the cabin: the snowy white of the Chalet theme, the oaky-merlot-ness of Destination, or the vintage-tinged Yacht Club interior theme, with its milky grained trim and delightfully geriatric blue leather it wears like a badge of courage.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
With twin-turbo power and sweetly tuned handling, the 2018 Navigator defies some big-SUV expectations.
Lincoln cues up a throbbing twin-turbo V-6, rear- or all-wheel drive, adaptive steering and suspension in the 2018 Navigator to get the gargantuan SUV to behave as much like an adult-ish sedan as possible.
It works, for the most part. We give the Navigator a point above average for its ride and for its engine, and a 7 in all for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 at the heart of the Navigator crosses family lines with the Expedition, but Ford now knows better than to simply clone powertrains for its premium brand. The Expedition’s version of the engine thrums out 400 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque in top trim; the Lincoln drums out 450 hp and 510 lb-ft. Admittedly, the engine has to propel a few hundred extra pounds (the Navigator tops out at 6,056 lb), but it lavishes low-end torque on the Navigator like a long-lost son, with cooing noises that don’t quite replicate a massive, missing V-8.
Ford teamed with GM to develop the 10-speed automatic in the Navigator, and it’s better served by Lincoln than by the General. Downshifts are frequent but rarely get messy, and the Navigator has shift paddles (!) and a tow-haul mode that applies more direct control over the transmission’s myriad gears. Tow capacity, by the way, runs from 8,100 to 8,700 pounds courtesy an optional hitch.
Lincoln adapts Ford’s terrain-management controls to give the Navigator better traction control, but the usual “snow/ice/sand” modes go off on a poetic bender. Want to “Conserve” energy? Or “Excite” the powertrain? Spin the wheel and watch animated spheres dance across the Navigator’s digital gauge display. There’s a bad-weather mode, too, but rock-crawling? With this chrome?
Under the attractively streamlined skin, the Navigator sports ride-and-handling hardware that puts a lot of daylight between it and GM’s SUVs. The independent front and rear suspension gets adaptive dampers that filter off most of the faulty road surfaces, as if it were flicking lint off its shoulder. The Navigator’s sheer mass has equal part in smothering the ride flaws that big 22-inch wheels could induce (only base models roll on anything less). Fit this thing with the Mercedes-Maybach’s anti-squat, anti-dive, predictive damping and we’d never go Euro again. As it is, the Navigator’s hugeness doesn’t get in its way as much as it could, thanks in part to an adaptive electronic steering system that dials in some light doses of feedback while it copes with massive wheels and a turning circle of more than 40 feet.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
Comfort & Quality
With the 2018 Navigator, Lincoln finally has returned to the pinnacle of luxury.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator’s combination of pleasure-palace finishes and boxcar space impresses us deeply. Argue if you want, but the logo hasn’t been applied to anything as suave and accommodating since 1966.
We give the Navigator a perfect 10 for comfort and quality, with the footnote that our taste for over the top glitz may not be the same as yours. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
There’s no argument over the 2018 Navigator’s space. Standard editions ride on a 122.5-inch wheelbase and stand 210.0 inches long; the extended Navigator L sits on a 131.6-inch wheelbase and is 221.9 inches long.
Even the base front seats in the Navigator fit the mission, with the right mix of give and take, soft and supportive. We’d take on all-day drives in them without reservation, unless we could wangle a Navi with the available 30-way power seats. They sound like overload, but with adjustments at the shoulders and low back, and heating and cooling, they’re exceptionally comfortable for everyone who sampled them.
The captain’s chairs in the second row don’t have all those features, but they’re more than suitable for large bodies. Huge doors swing open wide, and the Navigator’s power running boards let smaller passengers climb in with dignity and safety. A three-person bench seat swaps in on some low-end Navigators, which flips them from 7-passenger to 8-passenger duty. The second-row bench seat slides on a track for better access to the third-row seat.
That third row doles out more leg room than the rear seat in Lincoln’s MKZ sedan. Anyone not signed to a three-year NBA deal could ride in back, surrounded by cupholders and USB ports. Head room is the only slight demerit; six-foot-tall passengers might need to slouch, or just touch the power-recline button that lays the seatback at an angle.
The Navigator’s rear two rows of seats fold down to unleash 120.2 cubic feet of space on L models, or 103.3 cubic feet on shorter Navs. Even with all the seats in use, the cargo space can hold a few roll-aboard bags. A power-fold third-row seat and power tailgate come standard, while pricier models get a cargo-management system that basically adds a shelf to the cargo bin. Ikea could do it for less, of course, but it’d be foil-coated in white laminate.
We can’t overstate the sumptuous Navigator cabin’s appeal. Especially at the Black Label level, touches like milk-white wood and vintage-blue leather mix with wide band of metallic trim, a floating front center console, crisp high-resolution displays, and graceful on-screen fonts to elevate the Navigator’s luxury profile. It ranges from handsome to gorgeous, and neatly pitches Lincoln back into the luxury-car conversation. The sense of occasion wouldn’t be off the mark in a Bentley.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
The 2018 Navigator’s stuffed with safety technology on higher trims, but crash-test data is absent so far.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator has not been crash-tested yet, so we’ll reserve judgement on its safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
We will tell you all the myriad features and functions it carries in the interest of passenger protection, not the least of which is its glassy cabin. It offers better outward vision than GM’s full-size SUVs, though the bluff front end makes parking more of a concern.
Along with its standard airbags and stability control, the Navigator can be fitted with all-wheel drive. A rearview camera comes standard, while surround-view cameras are available on all but the Premiere edition.
At the Reserve trim level, Lincoln makes its best safety gear an option. The bundle includes a head-up display, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and lane-departure warnings, as well as active park assist. It’s standard on Black Label Navigators.
We’ll update this section when safety agencies publish their data.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator’s breathtaking price feels justified, given its exceptionally lush interior and technology.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator carries a base price of $73,250. From base Premiere trim through the Select, Reserve, and Black Label models, it’s possible to jack the price up over $100,000. The Escalade and Range Rover rival is no longer the bargain it once was.
Still, we revel in its big-ticket features and functionality, so much so it’s worth a 10 on our features scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The 10-speed automatic and twin-turbo V-6 are standard across the board, but long-body Navigators come only in Select, Reserve, and Black Label trim, while rear-drive can only be had on Premiere and Select editions.
Every 2018 Navigator comes with power features, automatic climate control, 20-inch wheels, a digital instrument display, navigation with real-time traffic data, embedded 4G LTE data services, keyless ignition, a power tailgate, leather seats, and second-row captain’s chairs. A second-row bench seat can be fitted.
The infotainment system has a beautiful 10-inch high-resolution screen that uses Ford’s Sync3 interface to run the AM/FM/HD/XM radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and other smartphone/streaming applications. Sound erupts from 14 Revel speakers. Connectivity comes via six USB ports, four 12-volt power outlets and a 110-volt plug. Sling Media access allows Slingbox users to access their home TV channels while on the go.
Navigator Select SUVs add 22-inch wheels, cooled front seats, surround-view cameras, power running boards, and a wireless smartphone charging pad. Options include a panoramic roof, a heavy-duty towing package, a rear-seat entertainment system, and the highly recommended 30-way power front seats.
On Reserve models, Lincoln makes the panoramic roof standard and adds a console between the second-row seats, while it also lights up the Lincoln logo in the grille with LEDs. A cargo organizer, lush-sounding 20-speaker Revel audio, and a CD player are options. So is a safety bundle that includes a head-up display, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and lane-departure warnings, as well as active park assist—features that ought to be standard as on rivals.
At the Black Label price point of nearly $100,000, the Navigator lets buyers choose from Chalet (a snowy white), a woodsy Destination, or a fabulous vintage-blue-and-white Yacht Club interior theme. The towing package is standard, and so are distinctive 21-spoke 22-inch wheels, the CD player, the 20-speaker audio setup, and the safety package.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
Gas mileage is lower this year than last, despite the 2018 Lincoln Navigator’s updated powertrain.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator has adopted a new powertrain that has all it needs to produce better gas mileage. All versions sport a new 10-speed automatic and a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6.
The new Navigator also tacks on plenty of new luxury features that add to its weight, and drop its fuel economy to the high teens.
We rate it a 5 for gas mileage, a point lower than the similar Ford Expedition, which earns slightly higher EPA ratings. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The EPA says the standard-wheelbase, rear-drive 2018 Navigator consumes fuel at the rate of 16 mpg city, 23 highway, and 19 combined. With the longer-body Navigator L, gas mileage dips to 16/22/18 mpg.
The Navigator L with four-wheel drive is rated at 16/21/18 mpg.
Our editors have driven the ‘18 Navigator on roads across the eastern half of the U.S., and have clocked gas mileage in the low teens in mixed driving.