2012 Lincoln Navigator


Review: 2007 Lincoln Navigator

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2014.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Rating: 5
  • Command-view seating above the road
  • Can't miss it in a parking lot
  • Now lowest-priced, big, luxury SUV
  • Pathetic fuel mileage
  • Ho-hum V8 power
  • Feels like it needs a makeover

Once the biggest sport-utility vehicle with the most bling, the Lincoln Navigator now is the full-size, luxury-branded sport-utility vehicle that's lowest-priced in the segment.

With a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, around $46,000 for a two-wheel-drive model, the V8-powered Navigator in the 2007 model year undercuts all luxury, big-SUV competitors—including a Mercedes with 6-cylinder diesel.

Even the Hummer H2 and GMC Yukon Denali, which are not necessarily viewed as luxury-branded SUVs, are priced higher than the Navigator.

Meantime, the top seller in the segment, the Cadillac Escalade, and the new-for-2007 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class starts for thousands of dollars more.

What gives?
When it debuted in 1998, the Navigator started a craze for big, showy SUVs. U.S. sales zoomed to 43,859 in one year and helped make Lincoln the best-selling luxury brand in America at the time.

But as competitors—particularly the "blingy" Escalade—joined the segment, Navigator sales fell. By calendar 2006, they totaled just 23,947, which helped lead to the lower-pricing tactic.

Still big, still showy
Make no mistake. The Navigator still has ample style, especially with a new, shiny, silver-colored grille that reminds me of someone with braces on his teeth.

The Navigator has retained its segment-first, power-deploying running boards that automatically come out from under the doors whenever a car door is opened. They're part of an option package.

And the Navigator, which is based on the Ford Expedition, is bigger than ever.

While even a regular-wheelbase model sits high, with a hood that comes up to my chest and side, outer mirrors that are at my shoulders, there's a new Navigator L that adds 14.7 more inches in length for a bumper-to-bumper total of 18.6 feet.

Thus, cargo space behind third-row seats grew by 25 cubic feet in the 2007 model, for a total of 42.7.

This is still a bit shy, though, of the 45.8 cubic feet of space found behind the third-row seats in an extended Cadillac Escalade ESV that measures 18.5 feet long.

A bit of an old-style ride
The test Navigator, a regular wheelbase, 4X4 model wearing optional 20-inch wheels, towered over most other vehicles—save for semi-haulers and the like—on the roads. I could even peer over neighbor's fences into their yards.

The ride isn't as tightly managed as in some newer SUVs. At times, the ride felt a bit floaty, and the test Navigator's massive weight—some 6,100 pounds—sometimes shifted unsettlingly in curves and on mountain roads.

At the wheel, I felt considerable unsprung weight at the four wheels, which is a symptom of heavy components being there and taking road impacts less than gracefully. No doubt the test vehicle's 20-inch wheels didn't help this.

Lots to see and feel inside
Meantime, inside the vehicle, passengers had significant head toss as they sat up so high and the Navigator's body motions were palpable.

Intriguingly, for as large a vehicle as it is, the Navigator's turning circle is smaller than expected.

It was mostly quiet inside the test Navigator, save for wind noise at highway speeds.

Front seats were among the widest I've seen, and there's a generous, 10-inch-wide center console between them. The console separating the second-row seats was larger still—12 inches wide. No reason to rub elbows here.

I liked the dark brown leather piping that contrasted with the black, perforated leather on the seats of the test vehicle.

And the 3-speed, cool-air fans embedded in the front seat cushions were excellent for keeping driver and passenger feeling refreshed, even on warm, sunny days. This feature comes with the Ultimate trim level.

Passengers in all three rows get decent headroom and legroom, and the optional THX audio system produced awesome sound.

But the third-row seat cushion in the Navigator is short and provided support for just part of my thighs. Fit and finish on the tester was so-so.

In the instrument panel, the square gauges looked old-fashioned, and the power-down and power-up operation that folded the third-row seats into the floor wasn't as speedy as just manually putting the seats down in other SUVs.

V8 isn't competitive
The Navigator's 5.4-liter single overhead cam Triton V8 has good, confident sounds.

But it puts out 300 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque at 3750 rpm, which is far less than the 403 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque in an Escalade. It's also less power than what's in a Yukon Denali.

Meantime, Mercedes' GL320 CDI gets 398 lb-ft of torque starting as low as 1400 rpm from its much smaller-displacement, diesel V6.

Too bad the Navigator's lower power doesn't translate into better fuel mileage.

A two-wheel-drive Navigator was rated by the federal government at 13 miles a gallon in city driving and 18 mpg on the highway for 2007, or sixth worst among all SUV nameplates. This drops to 12/17 mpg with the federal government's stricter computation formula in 2008.

No matter. In combined city/highway travel, the test Navigator 4X4 got only 14.3 mpg. But note that because four-wheel-drive Navigators are exempt from government fuel economy ratings, the government doesn't publish official estimates for these Navigator models.

Odds and ends
All safety equipment on the Navigator is standard. This includes frontal airbags for the front seats, side, seat-mounted airbags for the two front seats, curtain airbags for all three rows and stability control.

Like most big SUVs, the Navigator received the top, five-out-of-five stars for protection of front-seat occupants in a government frontal crash test. There was no rating for side crash protection, however.

There has been no safety recall of the 2007 Navigator. But 2006 models were subjects of three recalls involving a defective windshield wiper motor that could stop working, a faulty transmission guide plate that could affect whether an SUV locks into the "park" gear, and tires that might have been damaged during production.

In recent years, Lincoln has been among the top ten brands in J.D. Power and Associates' annual Initial Quality Study and Dependability Study. But Consumer Reports lists the Navigator's reliability as poor.


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BB06 - 9/21/2014 9:20:43 AM