- Unabashed, at long last
- Even the third row’s spacious
- Excellent twin-turbo V-6
- Big displays, fine interface
- Black Label really means something
- Bigger, heavier
- Does Lincoln concierge service meet Lexus standards?
- Base model’s average warranty
- Astonishingly pricey, though it seems worth it
The 2019 Lincoln Navigator reclaims the past with an epic interior and a tidal wave of torque.
Last year’s new Lincoln Navigator rediscovered its own past. Its spectacular cabin and thrusty twin-turbo V-6 brought back the day when no luxury SUV buyer had heard of an Escalade, much less a Bentayga.
The Navigator returns for 2019 with few changes, still heavy and thirsty and pricey and totally unapologetic about it. It’s impossible to mistake its intentions. It’s the most elegant and comfortable Lincoln in the last half-century.
We give it a 7.2. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Navigators come in base, Select, Reserve, and Black Label trims. For 2019, Reserve editions get a standard Tech package and add a CD player to the most expensive audio system, while Black Labels get standard 30-way power seats and an option for a middle-row bench seat.
The 2018 redesign put a lot more power under the hood, and made the cabin a lot more lavish with more chrome, glossy wood and bright screens. The Navigator's silhouette is about the same as the Expedition's, but its styling takes off with a nose that stretches toward the sky. Its big chrome grille appears borrowed from the Lincoln Continental sedan and then blown up. Large taillamps spread across the back. New wheels are dramatic, with complex swirls.
It's nearly as fast as the kings of speed in the full-size SUV field, with names like Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes, Land Rover and Jeep. It can haul its three tons to 60 mph in less than six seconds, thanks to it 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6, which makes 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. Its 10-speed automatic transmission drives the rear wheels, with available all-wheel drive. Its ride and handling inspire more confidence than that of full-size SUVS from GM, thanks to adaptive suspension and steering.
But as we said, the Navigator is about luxury, not power. Luxury in Navigator-speak means space and soothing finishes. The base Navigator has a 122.5-inch wheelbase and is 210.0 long. There's also an extended Navigator L, with a 131.6-inch wheelbase and 221.9 inches in overall length. It seats seven with available captain's chairs, or eight in its standard trim. Tall adults can actually fit in the third row. The cabin is isolated from crudeness, thanks to thick sound insulation and side glass.
No crash-test data exists, but most Navigators have automatic emergency braking and can have a surround-view camera system. High technology includes a 12-inch screen that replaces traditional gauges, WiFi with 4G LTE speed, rear-seat entertainment, and a non-intrusive infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The top audio option is a 20-speaker Revel system that streams SlingTV.
2019 Lincoln Navigator
Crisp and expressive sheet metal offers a hint at the Navigator’s beautifully laid-out cabin.
A jaundiced eye would see the Ford Expedition under the skin of the Navigator. We prefer to look deeper, into the cabin. We give it a couple of above-average points for the cockpit and one for the exterior, and award it an 8 for styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The exterior is a lot cleaner than it was before the redesign. Now the surfaces are subtle and the details sharp. The creases are handsome. The corners say Lincoln.
Big headlamps border a mesh grille boasting its Lincoln emblem. Top models have LED lighting for the badge, as well as light to cast upon the ground under the doors. At the rear, the lighting and branding seems excessive, from the past and not the future. In other places, the balance between retro and edge is delightful.
In the not-too-distant past, Ford owned Land Rover, and some of the shared styling remains. Like the Range Rover, the Navigator has a slim profile without pillars. There are chrome vents on the front fenders, and swirly 21-spoke wheels. The exterior exuberance of the Navigator is something you won't find on British SUV, however.
In the cabin, a wide dash split by a console would be at home in a mid-century modern rumpus room. High-resolution screens brighten the space, from the top of the dash and behind the steering wheel. Nearly every instrument on the dash is rimmed with metal, most of it chromed. Everywhere you look, from the horizontal seams on the seats to the tailored door trim, the attention to detail comes through.
The Black Label model features a bright white Chalet theme, an oak-like Destination theme, or a vintage Yacht Club theme with milky trim and blue leather that should appeal to, well, vintage yacht-club types.
2019 Lincoln Navigator
A strapping twin-turbo V-6 vaults the 2019 Lincoln Navigator to exceptional SUV performance.
Lincoln’s mammoth SUV behaves like a genteel grown-up no matter where it’s driven, thanks to a powerful twin-turbo V-6, adaptive steering and an adaptive suspension.
We give the Navigator two points above average for its powertrain for a performance rating of 7. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Ford Expedition shares the Navigator’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine, but it makes more power in the Navigator, where it has more weight to carry. It makes 400 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque in the Ford, but 450 hp and 510 lb-ft in the Lincoln, to haul up to 6,056 pounds. That massive torque is used well; maybe not like a V-8, but for a V-6 to top 500 lb-ft is stunning. We’d estimate is 0-60 mph times at well under six seconds.
The 10-speed automatic transmission was jointly designed by Ford and GM engineers, and it feels like Ford wins that one, as the transmission works better in the Ford SUVs than the GM SUVs. With that many gears there are frequent downshifts, but they're almost always tight. Paddle shifters are standard on the Navigator, and the two-haul mode controls the gears when needed. The tow limit is 8,700 pounds with an upgraded hitch, 8,100 pounds without.
Lincoln’s traction and stability systems offer modes for different types of terrain, including snow/ice/sand, rock crawling, bad weather, economy, etc. The digital instrumentation displays the results expressively.
The Navigator rides and handles better than its rivals from GM. The suspension is fully independent, with adaptive dampers that absorb most of the bumps. The vehicle's weight helps, especially on the upper models with 22-inch wheels and tires with narrower sidewalls. We actually like the Navigator's ride more than the Mercedes-Maybach’s anti-squat, anti-dive, predictive damping.
The steering of the Navigator isn't nearly as heavy as might be expected. The adaptive electronic steering provides light feedback, as it deals with the big wheels and a wide steering radius of more than 40 feet.
2019 Lincoln Navigator
Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Lincoln Navigator has few peers for interior cachet.
With the elegant materials and vast space, we give the Navigator all the possible points for quality and comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The standard front seats are a good balance between soft and supportive. They're comfortable for long hours, and have a multitude of adjustments, though shorter drivers may find them a tall order to climb. The optional 30-way power seats might be overkill, but they're also exceptional. Heating, cooling, shoulders and lower back are just four of the 30 ways, and they bring bliss to a long road trip.
The standard captain’s chairs in the second row fit big bodies, no problem. The rear doors are wide, and they also swing wide open; with the power running boards, ingress and egress is easy for everyone.
The optional second-row bench seats three, for a total of eight passengers. It slides on a track to make access to the third-row fairly easy.
The third row is amazing, having more legroom than the rear seat in the Lincoln MKZ sedan. There's less headroom, however. The cupholders and USB ports are nice but don't raise the roof. But there is a power-recline button that does, sort of.
With the rear rows folded there's 103.3 cubic feet of cargo space, or 120.2 cubic feet in the long-wheelbase L model. Behind the third row, a few carry-on bags can fit. There's an optional system that adds a shelf to the cargo area. The third row folds, and the liftgate opens, via power.
No Navigator suffers from a poverty-row interior or loud and unbecoming noises, but do yourself a favor and test the Black Label. It’s sumptuous, with its milky white wood, blue leather, and choices of metallic trim. With the floating center console, and big crisp screens with graceful fonts, the Black Label approaches Bentley territory at a third of the price.
2019 Lincoln Navigator
No crash-test data exists for the latest Navigator.
The 2019 Navigator has a lot of features and functions to protect its occupants, starting with a lot of glass for better visibility than the GM full-size SUVs. The big front end sometimes makes parking a challenge, however.
We leave it unrated until there’s some solid crash-test data from either the NHTSA or the IIHS or both. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
A rearview camera is standard, while a surround-view camera system is optional on every model but the base edition.
The Reserve and Black Label models includes the highest-tech safety features: head-up display, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-departure warnings, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, and active park assist.
2019 Lincoln Navigator
The 2019 Navigator pours on the standard features and options.
The Navigator starts at nearly $75,000, although it's easy to raise that to more than $100,000. It used to be a bargain compared to the Cadillac Escalade and Range Rover, but no more.
It’s exhaustive in its standard features and options, but it’s not a great value—and its warranty is only above average at the Black Label level, where drivers get 4 years or 50,000 miles of blanket coverage and pickup service for repairs.
We give it an 8 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The twin-turbo V-6 and 10-speed automatic transmission are standard in all models, with all-wheel drive available. The long-wheelbase Navigators come in Select, Reserve, and Black Label trim.
Standard equipment on the base vehicle includes power features, automatic climate control, 20-inch wheels, embedded 4G LTE data services, a digital instrument display, navigation with real-time traffic data, keyless ignition, a power tailgate, leather upholstery, and second-row captain’s chairs. A second-row bench seat is an option.
A lovely 10-inch high-resolution screen uses Ford’s Sync3 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and AM/FM/HD/XM radio. Fourteen Revel speakers blast the audio. There are four 12-volt power outlets, six USB ports, and a 110-volt plug. The Navigator’s multimedia capabilities include Slingbox home-TV streaming.
Select models add 22-inch wheels, cooled front seats, power running boards, a surround-view camera system, and a wireless smartphone charging pad. Options include a panoramic roof, a rear-seat entertainment system, a heavy-duty towing package, and 30-way power front seats.
The Reserve model has the panoramic roof and a console between the captain's chairs. Its Lincoln grille badge is lit by LEDs. For 2019, Reserve Navigators add a standard Tech package and a CD player to the most expensive audio system, while it also gains a standard safety package which includes a head-up display, automatic high beams, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warnings, as well as active park assist. Options include a 20-speaker Revel audio system, a cargo organizer, and CD player.
For nearly a hundred grand, the Black Label offers the snowy Chalet, woodsy Destination, or vintage Yacht Club cabin design. Standard equipment includes a towing package, striking 21-spoke 22-inch wheels, CD player, a 20-speaker Revel sound system, and the active safety package. This year Black Labels get standard 30-way power seats and an option for a middle-row bench seat.
2019 Lincoln Navigator
The Navigator just isn’t that into you—if you’re the EPA.
The Lincoln Navigator’s fuel economy dropped with the new twin-turbo V-6 engine and 10-speed automatic that came in 2018. It’s still a hefty machine, no matter how much technology joins the party.
We give it a 3 for fuel economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The EPA rates the rear-wheel-drive Navigator at 16 mpg city, 23 highway, and 19 combined, and with all-wheel drive, 16/21/18 mpg. The extended Navigator L gets 16/22/18 mpg with rear-wheel drive.
The EPA does much better than we do. On roads in the East, both city and highway, our mileage was in the low teens.—with Sam Moses