Sales of full-size luxury SUVs, such as the 2014 Lincoln Navigator, haven't been slowed by a recovering economy or $4-a-gallon gasoline. Americans just love these gargantuan people haulers, which explains why the Lincoln Navigator continues to sell well despite its inherent costs. While it's true one could achieve the same cargo space and hauling ability with a Ford Expedition, the Navigator tacks on a hefty dose of Lincoln luxury that makes it worth the extra $10,000 asking price.
Lincoln equips its 8-passenger luxury barge with just about every electronic goodie in the company's bag of luxury tricks. Available in standard wheelbase or extended (Navigator L), the Navigator provides the kind of country club chic the ultra rich require in a package that is still highly functional and utilitarian. Of course, if you don't need to seat eight people or require the ability to tow 9,000 pounds, a smaller and more fuel-efficient SUV such as the Lincoln MKT might be a better choice.
What's New for 2014?
Other than some new color choices, there are no major changes for 2014.
What We Like
Stretched L version is roomy; towing is best in class; price is reasonable
What We Don't
Interior is outdated; lacks some high-tech features; falls behind most competitors in horsepower and torque
Regardless of whether you choose the Navigator or the Navigator L, its power will come from a 5.4-liter V8 engine rated at 310 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque. This engine is flex-fuel capable, meaning it can run on regular gasoline or E85. A smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission is standard. The Navigator can be ordered with rear-wheel (RWD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD). Fuel economy for the rear-wheel-drive Navigator is rated at 14 miles per gallon city and 20 mpg highway, while the 4-wheel-drive model has a slightly lower 13 mpg city/18 mpg hwy rating. When running on E85, fuel economy drops to 10 mpg city/14 mpg hwy (RWD) and 9 mpg city/13 mpg hwy (4WD).
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Lincoln Navigator comes in one well-equipped trim and two models: base and L (long wheelbase).
The Navigator ($56,945) and Navigator L ($59,110) include 10-way heated and cooling front seats, full leather seating, driver and passenger power lumbar support, second-row captain-chair seating, heated second-row seats, automatic xenon headlamps, a power-foldable 60/40-split third-row seat, rearview camera, keypad entry, automatic air conditioning with rear seat controls, a power rear lift gate, power deployable running boards, wood and leather power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and music streaming, rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors and power-adjustable pedals. Also standard is Lincoln's voice-activated navigation with SiriusXM satellite radio and Travel Link, HD Radio and a 14-speaker THX II-certified audio system.
Options are limited to a Monochrome package that adds a power moonroof, monochrome exterior accents and Ash wood interior inserts. Stand-alone options include 4WD, remote start, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a trailer tow package and a no-cost second-row split bench seat.
Missing from this list but available on many of the Navigator's competitors are such features as adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled cup holders and adaptive swiveling front lighting.
Standard safety features include a full complement of airbags, trailer-sway control and Lincoln's MyKey system, which allows individual tailoring of driver alerts and warnings. Standard safety features include front and seat-mounted front-side airbags, and 3-row side-curtain airbags. The Navigator is also equipped with electronic traction control, ABS and roll stability control (RSC). The RSC helps prevent the vehicle from entering a rollover situation by cutting power to the engine while simultaneously applying brakes to the wheels that need it. In the event that a rollover is unavoidable, rollover sensors activate the side-curtain airbags. Also standard is Lincoln's trailer-sway control, which works through the RSC to help maintain a stable trailering environment.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2014 Lincoln Navigator an overall rating of four out of five stars, with four stars in the front and roof rollover tests and five stars for side impact.
Behind the Wheel
One might think that because of its stiff, truck-based frame the Navigator would logically drive like a big pickup truck, but this is not the case. A fully independent rear suspension allows the rear wheels to move up and down independently (as opposed to a solid axle, which links the two wheels together and allows events that occur at one wheel to affect the other). This setup, in combination with a set of monotube shocks and extra rubber bushings, isolates the Navigator's cabin from the harsh realities of the road. This setup also provides a surprisingly controllable vehicle that, while still prone to some sway due to its high center of gravity, never feels as if it's going to fall on its side when rounding sharp curves.
Steering effort is a bit heavy but very accurate, with no loose play in the wheel. The Navigator's brakes are solid and sure, and the pedal feels firm, with very little travel before the brakes take hold. The Navigator's extensive use of laminated glass and acoustic soundproofing results in a cabin that is so quiet that one can hold a conversation with the rear passengers at highway speed without having to shout.
Other Cars to Consider
Cadillac Escalade -- The Escalade has more luxury features, a more powerful engine and a more aesthetically pleasing interior. There's also a hybrid model. But the Escalade costs more than the Navigator, and its maximum tow rating is only 8,000 pounds, 1,000 less than the Lincoln.
Infiniti QX80 -- The QX80 has a much more fluid look, with a more modern cabin, a more powerful engine and more up-to-date electronic options, such as distance-control cruise control and 360-degree monitors. But the Navigator can out-tow the QX80, and the Navigator L offers more interior volume.
Lexus LX 570 -- The LX may hold its value better than the Navigator, but it can't tow nearly as much (7,000 vs. 9,000 pounds). The LX's interior is also showing its age, and offers less volume than the Navigator.
If you're looking at something as big as the Navigator, we are assuming you have big needs. Therefore, the logical choice is the extended L model, which gives you all the features of the standard Navigator but with added cargo space behind the third-row seat that yields 42.6 cu ft -- a big improvement on the base Navigator's 18.1 cu ft.