Whistler, BC – Those accolades are exactly the boost Ford’s luxury wing needs as the Navigator reinvents itself in the same segment it launched back in 1997. Moving away from looking or feeling like a Ford, this all-new Navigator becomes the flagship vehicle it was always meant to be.
Everything about the Navigator is clean and sophisticated, and that includes its simplified two-trim lineup for Canada, Select and Reserve, both of which are offered for the regular Navigator and the long-wheelbase ‘L’ version.
There are many new features both inside and out, but we’ve narrowed the excitement down to five things you need to know about the 2018 Lincoln Navigator.
1. All new-grille sets the stage
If there’s one new feature that changes the image of the Lincoln Navigator, it’s definitely the all-new grille. According to Jim Rideout, Product Marketing Manager for Lincoln Canada, “the grille seduces, but doesn’t attack.”
That comment seems to sum up the motto for the 2018 Navigator. It’s not edgy, because it doesn’t have to show off. Its elegance is in details like a chrome honeycomb grille with a plethora of vertical slats shaped identically to the Lincoln badge. It all works perfectly to set the stage for the revival of the full-size luxury SUV, especially when compared to the previous iteration and its dual grille openings and their horizontal slats.
The new grille’s greatness also makes up for some of its other exterior shortcomings. Lincoln may have played it too safe with small LED headlamps. A more sleek design would have pushed the envelope better and complemented that jewel of a grille.
2. Some of the most comfortable seats
SUV luxury is all about comfort and Lincoln sets the bar high with 30-way power seating available as an option on the Reserve trim. Before you roll your eyes about this cost-adder, the standard seating is not too far off with 24-way adjustment.
I first thought that Lincoln was just trying to lead the charge in having the most widely-adjustable seats, but once you’re inside, you find yourself in what is truly one of the more relaxing rides on the market. Take your time to find the perfect seating position, and then lean your head back into the ultimate head rest. The trick may rest with a thin layer of polyurethane foam that helps the seat flex around the body. If that’s not enough, turn on the massaging function (for both back and posterior) to your convenience, and voila, the ‘sit back and enjoy’ line has never been more appropriate.
It should be noted there is no standard heated steering wheel. Considering the experience inside the Navigator is all luxury and comfort, it’s strange to see that it was overlooked as a standard feature.
Second-row passengers may not enjoy massaging functions, but captain’s chairs provide ample comfort along with their own climate control settings. An optional entertainment system featuring 10-inch screens can be set up for back-row passengers to stream content wirelessly from an Android phone, while third-row occupants receive a bench with plenty of headroom and legroom, as well as easy in-and-out access.
3. Quiet and powerful ride
Given the Navigator’s size, one wouldn’t expect a combination of powerful performance and a quiet ride. Those traits come to life in a more fuel efficient hauler Lincoln says is capable of 14.9 L/100 km in the city and 11.3 L/100 km on the highway.
Power comes from a twin-turbo, 3.5-litre V6 that produces 450 hp and a 510 lb-ft of torque. It is matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Those numbers are pumped up significantly from the previous iteration, despite having the same type of engine.
As one would expect on a first drive from Vancouver to Whistler, the weather changed dramatically from sun to rain to snow. All the seasons were in play and the Navigator tackled them all with help from a drive-mode selector that rewrites the usual modes as Excite, Conserve, Normal, Slippery, Deep Conditions and Slow Climb.
During the sunny section of our drive in Vancouver, the Navigator showed off its torque levels in Excite mode with confident aggression without any noticeable lag. It doesn’t feel its size (around 2,700 kg) and managed to ease by other vehicles in a smooth and seamless manner thanks in part to the 10-speed transmission. Everything was done with quiet precision thanks to various noise cancellation features including laminated windows and sensors in the speakers that emitted sound waves to cancel out road noise.
As the weather turned to snow, so did the dial to Slippery mode for steering, suspension and stability adjustments. The Navigator stayed balanced and planted with a weightier steering wheel that only needed minimal handling.
It may drive like a compact SUV, but it’s still a boat when attempting three-point turns and U-turns, making parking dreadful.
4. Lincoln Embrace, but not much other tech standard
Many vehicles are starting to have illuminated features in the dark, but there’s nothing like the 2018 Lincoln Navigator. The American luxury brand has taken a welcoming ‘hello’ to the next level with Lincoln Embrace. It’s a cool feature, but how much is too much?
All one needs is to have the key fob on their person for the welcoming to begin. When approaching the vehicle, an illuminating welcoming mat with the Lincoln logo situated dead centre greets you. This shines on both sides of the vehicle from power-folding side mirrors that project the image to the ground. In addition, the running boards extend and illuminate to help guide you inside.
Unlike other automakers, that glow also comes from its door handles, the Lincoln badge on the grille and front and rear running lamps that glow in a sequence. If that’s not enough, and it probably is, Reserve trims have seatbelts that light up, while an ambient light sequentially illuminates each of the three rows.
What’s interesting is that Lincoln Embrace goes a bit too far, while many other major safety features don’t come standard, even in Reserve trim. Regardless which trim is chosen, consumers will have to opt for the tech package in order to receive a new head-up display (HUD), enhanced park assist, adaptive cruise control, trailer backup assist, forward collision warning with brake support and lane keep assist. The only piece of standard equipment is a 360-degree camera, while the blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert comes standard on Reserve.
5. Cheaper than Escalade, sort of
In Canada, Lincoln has a two-tier trim selection that starts at Select for $87,650 and ends at Reserve for $90,650. Those prices are for the regular model, while the ‘L’ versions are priced at $90,650 and $93,650, respectively.
Lincoln has clearly benchmarked the new Navigator against its biggest rival, the Cadillac Escalade. When looking at the prices, the Escalade begins a hair lower at $86,540, but comes in four trims that top out at $108,735.
According to Lincoln, the lower and upper tier found in the US (Premier and Black Label) doesn’t work in the Canadian market. Therefore, the Select receives more features, like the 24-way power seating and massaging seats at a lower price than what is found in the Escalade. As for the Black Label, there’s a concierge service aspect that comes with it, but Canada simply isn’t set-up for it just yet. Outside of that, the Reserve trim receives almost the same features.
With the 2018 Lincoln Navigator’s performance, quiet ride, comfort and added technology, it’s making a run at the Escalade, and in doing so it’s placing itself back at the top of the segment it once helped create.