There’s finally a new SUV for people looking for the absolute finest things in life. First introduced to the public as a concept in 2017, the 2018 Lincoln Navigator hit the markets this year. Offered to buyers as standard and extended lengths, we chose to opt for the extra square footage. Lincoln has accomplished somewhat of an enigma with the 2018 Navigator, by creating something so astonishingly big, yet nimble and surprisingly fun to drive.
All new for this year, clad in lightweight aluminum, and dressed in a rather attractive blue, the 2018 Lincoln Navigator is a fresh take on an aged design. We first got a look at this design at car shows last year, with its absurd interior closet design and gull wing doors. While the eccentricities didn’t make the cut, the exterior is largely unchanged from the bold statements we saw in the concept. Large luxury SUVs, like this 2018 Lincoln Navigator, have traditionally been gussied up versions of the base truck. This 2018 Navigator is not trying to be a luxurious Expedition.
The sheer length of this thing means you take half a minute just to take your eyes from one end to the other. LED lighting front and rear is stylishly attractive. For a giant box-like vehicle, the 2018 Lincoln Navigator is very attractive to look at. Automatic side steps greet you as you approach the outside, a welcome sight given its height. At night, a Lincoln emblem is projected onto the road by the mirrors. Even the giant emblem on the grille glows ever so subtly. This really is a vehicle for those who don’t want to be seen but want to make a scene.
Giant 22-inch rims are attractive even when clad in winter rubber, like our tester. Lincoln have struck and interesting balance with the 2018 Navigator design. While this truck screams luxury, it doesn’t do so by resorting to excessive and cheesy bling.
Engine and performance
Underneath the shiny blue aluminum beats the heart of a true body on frame truck. The 2018 Lincoln Navigator is built using the same high strength steel platform as the F150 and powered by the same innovative EcoBoost series of engines. Except this ain’t no every day EcoBoost. At 450 hp and 501 torque, this beast of an engine comes lifted straight from the Ford F150 Raptor. The result is fantastic driving performance for a vehicle the size of a small cruise ship. Acceleration isn’t just brisk; it’s fun.
Rugged truck foundation gives the 2018 Lincoln Navigator oodles of practical performance as well. A high output engine enables 9,000 pounds of towing capacity. Highway handling is fun; spirited even. More impressive is how conservative this gentle giant is on fuel. When all things are considered, you are driving a vehicle bigger than pretty much everything else, this thing just sips the gas. Try as we might, lead foot and all, we couldn’t get city mileage to crest above 15 MPG. Typical city driving saw the expected EPA rating of 17 MPG. At freeway speeds, cruising made things even better. Much better. We saw mileage as good as 22.5 MPG, actually besting the official numbers posted. With a smaller than average 28-gallon tank, this stylish estate-on-wheels gets over 600 miles to a fill up.
Where the 2018 Lincoln Navigator deviates from its car show debut is inside the interior. Great care has been given to the inside of the 2018 Lincoln Navigator. At the Reserve trim, chairs have comfort levels that are hard to draw comparisons too. Room inside goes beyond cavernous. Passengers of the Reserve Extended will be forgiven for thinking they never left their lounge at home. There’s a design sophistication here that goes beyond the “man cave” feel a luxury truck has.
Unlike many of the similar luxury SUVs, there are very few crossovers from the truck body the 2018 Lincoln Navigator shares with Ford. Front door handles and some elements of the door and dash will look familiar to F150 owners, but the similarities stop there. It’s pretty clear that great attention was paid to details. It doesn’t feel like an interior designed for an older audience, either. While not trending or futuristic, there’s a real sense of sophistication here. It makes the folks inside feel somewhat elevated, somehow more cultured.
Gear selection comes via a slick button design which is integrated right into the dashboard. Dash clusters are fully digital, offering a creative and graphical interface for information. Driving mode selections seem tuned for a more mature audience, featuring options like “Normal, Conserve, Slippery, Deep Conditions”. There’s even an “Excite” option, for when fuel economy doesn’t matter, which brings out the Ford Raptor in the 2018 Lincoln Navigator.
There’s definitely a certain kind of person in a certain stage in life who the folks at Lincoln had in mind for the 2018 Navigator. It’s a car as much to be driven in as it is to be driven. Rear entertainment units and console controls are exhaustive, giving second row passengers full independence from the driver. In fact, the video screens are totally independent of anything the driver is doing on the primary infotainment system. After some trial and error, we figured out how to pair the two tablet screens with the primary system via Bluetooth. It makes getting videos for your kids a pain. This is definitely a vehicle for families with older kids, or executives looking for private jet like comfort on highway trips.
It’s also surprising that there are not any BluRay players in the 2018 Lincoln Navigator, even at Reserve trim. Yet, there is a standard CD player. It bucks the trend a little bit. There are ample places for USB and MicroSD cards to go, as well as HDMI inputs and AC plugs for whatever entertainment device you have. Don’t expect to be able to control or moderate any of this from the front, though. It really is a whole different world in the rear.
Speaking of rear, there is a third row to the 2018 Lincoln Navigator as well. These fully powered seats are plenty roomy and exceptionally comfortable by any standard. Because they’re powered, you can lower them with the flick of a button while standing at the rear tailgate. You can also lower the second row from the trunk as well, but it’s not powered, instead triggering the same collapse mechanism used to enter the third row. It works great if the seating position hasn’t been altered to something closer to the front seats. You will have to manually heave the seats back up. When forward, there’s lots of space to get access to the third row.
This really is the King of SUVs. For the price tag, which crosses into six figures, there is no room for compromise. And Lincoln isn’t playing games with the 2018 Navigator. Superb interior design, which blends sophistication with modern style, combined with delightfully fun driving dynamics make this Navigator unique. It’s more than just a Ford Expedition in a pretty dress. This is a 2018 Lincoln Navigator. This is the best luxury, full sized SUV you can buy for those who aren’t going to settle.