2021 Lincoln Navigator

By December 2, 2020

The 2021 Lincoln Navigator is a luxury full-size SUV that can seat up to eight passengers. It’s a giant cruiser and all-weather tow vehicle that makes no apologies for its glitz and opulence. It’s one of our favorite luxury SUVs, including some that cost twice as much.

For 2021 the Navigator comes in fewer colors.

Under the Navigator’s hood there’s a twin-turbo V-6 with 450 horsepower that, despite its bulk, enables it to rival a sport sedan for quickness. It flips through gears in its 10-speed transmission to deliver that locomotive strength to the rear or all four wheels.

Even on its biggest available 22-inch wheels, the ride is admirable; it steers with conviction, which is more admirable given it weighs nearly three tons. However the turning radius of more than 40 feet makes it a monster to park. So save it for towing your yacht; it can tow 8,700 pounds.

The seating ranges from comfortable to sublime, with no less than 30-way power front seats and an adult-sized third-row bench.

The EPA rates it at 16 city, 22 highway, 19 combined mpg with rear-wheel drive, and only 1 less mpg with all-wheel drive. There is a longer-wheelbase L model with rear-wheel drive that gets 18 mpg combined.

The NHTSA gives the Navigator five stars for safety, while the IIHS hasn’t tested it yet.

Standard safety equipment includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and automatic emergency braking. Available equipment includes a surround-view camera system, head-up display, active parking assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Model Lineup

The Navigator comes in four models: base, Reserve, Black Label and long-wheelbase L.

For about $80,000, the base Navigator comes with keyless start, a power tailgate, leather upholstery, 20-inch wheels, second-row captain’s chairs, and a 10.0-inch infotainment screen with 14 speakers and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Options include a 20-speaker sound system and twin-screen rear-seat entertainment.

In the mid-$80,000 range, the Navigator Reserve adds 22-inch wheels, a surround-view camera system, a panoramic sunroof, a light-up Lincoln badge, and options for 30-way power front seats and 20-speaker sound.

The Black Label gets 20-speaker Revel audio, a rear-seat entertainment system, and designer themes with lovely selections of wood and leather (we like the blue Yacht Club), as well as concierge maintenance and free car washes.

If you need the long-wheelbase L, you’re looking at six figures.

Exterior

The Navigator has a square-jawed stance like the Ford Expedition it’s based on, but otherwise it has a presence and a style all its own. It embraces its size.

The long, straight lines across the roof and beltlines make it resemble a scaled-up Range Rover, but otherwise it has a presence and style all its own. Chrome drips across the front end in generous amounts. LED headlights and taillights add flourish to the concept.

Interior

The cabin is stunning, a beautiful composition of modern and retro design elements; Bentley could learn something from this Lincoln.

There are big high-resolution screens and slabs of chrome and wood. The Black Label themes are the best interiors Ford has ever offered; the Chalet and Destination come across like high-end couture, while the Yacht Club dresses with vintage runway perfection, from its blue leather to creamy wood accents.

The leather front seats have standard heating and cooling, and that 30-way power adjustment, with cushions that move for each leg, comes on every model above the base. Standard power running boards provide a step for climbing in and out.

The standard seat in back is a bench, although most models will have twin captain’s chairs. There’s generous leg, head, and knee room, and the bench slides to make it easier to get to the third row, where there’s also good leg room.

There are cupholders and USB ports for everyone, not to mention available entertainment screens.

There is 20.9 cubic feet behind the third row, where loading is easy thanks to a relatively low floor and power liftgate. With the second and third rows folded, the cargo space is 103.3 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

You won’t miss a V-8 in the Lincoln Navigator. Its 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 is tuned to make 450 horsepower and an eye-popping 510 pound-feet of torque. It can blast to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, and tow 8,700 pounds.

The 10-speed automatic transmission clicks through the gears smoothly; naturally, with 10-speed, it shifts a lot. Paddle shifters make a lot of things possible. The all-wheel drive has modes for the best traction in snow/ice/sand, bad weather, rock crawling, fuel economy, and sporty driving.

But it’s really the ride that makes the Navigator one of the world’s best long-distance drivers. It uses adaptive dampers and an independent suspension to be barely bothered by pavement seams, even with the 22-inch wheels whose tires have narrower sidewalls.
And it’s not beaten by potholes. Its weight helps.

Not only that, the handling is excellent for a mammoth SUV, with light steering and good directional stability. However the turning radius is a massive 40+ feet, so don’t expect it to whip around hairpins, let alone zip into parking spaces.

Final Word

It’s not cheap, but the 2021 Lincoln Navigator is worth its price. The twin-turbo V-6 does things a V-8 never could, including getting better gas mileage, and it works well with a slick 10-speed automatic transmission. The ride is fabulous, as is the cabin comfort.

 

—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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