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  • Writer's pictureMarc Gonzalez

2021 Lincoln Navigator

Since the end of the 90s, the Navigator has been the face of American luxury automaker Lincoln. Nowadays, it seems like a no-brainer to haul 7 adults in the utmost comfort, but it wasn't the norm back in 1997 when Lincoln launched the Navigator, and gladly for its parent company Ford, this full-size SUV has been a hit since day one. In 2021, Lincoln's competition has never been fiercer; there are many competitors in this segment, such as the BMW X7, Mercedes-Benz GLS, and Cadillac Escalade. Let's see if the Navigator can retain its crown.

On the outside, the Navigator's design isn't revolutionary by any means. It's starting to date a little bit. The exterior lines are very classy and bode well on this vehicle, the front grille is enormous, and the headlights units are huge. In the back, that is where the improvements are needed. The rear part is uninspiring, there is only that big red barn in the middle, and the lines overall on the vehicle lack a little bit of flair. The design of the wheels could use some improvements; keep in mind, we are talking about the pinnacle of the Lincoln lineup.

Inside, we can feel that we are stepping inside a premium vehicle. The impeccable seats and the clean look of the dashboard contribute to creating this luxurious atmosphere. The driver is greeted by a fully digital gauge cluster, with clear gauges which recreate a tachometer and speedometer and display other meaningful information. Don't look for a steering column to shift into gears; to put the Navigator in Drive, you have to use the buttons located in the center. They are placed piano-like under the infotainment system, we are still getting used to it, but they are easy to reach for the driver and create more space on the steering wheel for the wipers stock. A quick word on the steering wheel, its leather-wrapped and all-important commands for the driver are intuitive, as it should be. The infotainment system is SYNC 3 from Ford, an excellent system found on other vehicles and is fast and easy to use and comprehend. The only downside may be the controls for adjusting the lumbar support on both front seats; it takes a couple of tries to understand which button does what. Underneath the infotainment screen, you will find the climate controls. Once again, simplicity is key, and Lincoln didn't overcomplicate simple tasks such as raising the volume or cooling the cabin.

There is the wireless charging pad, the cupholders, and the drive mode selector on the center console. You have a choice of 6 different drive modes, but as you'll learn in a minute, neither one of these modes will transform the Navigator into a race car. Going a few inches back, the second-row passengers have access to their own console containing some climate controls and the heated second-row seats. The piano black finish on this panel wasn't a wise choice from Lincoln's designers since this will be a heavy use area in the vehicle. With around 8,000km on the odometer, the rear center console was already covered with scratches. Also, the lack of infotainment screens on the back of both front seats was intriguing since we're talking about a full-size luxury SUV. Comfort won't be an issue as the seats in the Navigator are all well-bolstered and fitting for the category.

As expected, a heavy family hauler needs a big engine to accomplish its many tasks. And Lincoln certainly didn't hold back as we found a big powerplant under the hood. The numbers are quite impressive: 3.5L twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder engine that produces 450hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission, an impressive announced 0-100kph time of 5.3 seconds, also quite impressive is the towing capacity of around 8,300lbs. On the road, the Navigator doesn't feel as bloated as you can imagine. It will never feel like a sports car. Still, there has been an emphasis on making this full-size vehicle nimbler and easier to maneuver in urban areas. The American automaker has been able to compensate for the weight and length of the vehicle with its impressive Adaptive Suspension and Electric Power-Assisted Steering. In twisty country roads, this behemoth will feel more agile and able to deal with corners at higher speeds than previous generations Navigator thus improving the security while driving. Couple all of this with an impeccable four-wheel-drive system, and you've got a decent handling people mover in your hands. Let's not forget that this vehicle is also mounted on huge 22-inch wheels. A quick word on fuel consumption, we've been able to average about 9,3L/100km on the highway and around 12.2 combined. Our figures were lower than expected, given that Lincoln announces 11.5 on the highway and 13.5L/100km combined.

The Lincoln Navigator was the golden standard in the full-size luxury segment 20 years ago. Unfortunately for Lincoln, competition has caught up to them, and now they have to up their game. The driving experience was more than adequate, but the styling shows signs of age, and inside, some important luxury touches are missing. At $109,150, you cannot rest on your laurels for too long, or you will be outdated pretty quickly. We feel that some competitors can offer better value for the money.

On a side note, after our test, Lincoln released details of the 2022 Navigator that addresses some of the complaints found in this article, like the styling. We will have the chance to try it again and see how much the Navigator evolves.

Lincoln has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Lincoln Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.

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