The 1990s were the Wild West for SUVs, and the Lincoln Navigator (introduced for the 1998 model year) represented the gold rush leading a charge of automakers to create bigger, more profitable luxury crossovers and SUVs. In the 20 years since, the Navigator has taken a back seat while rivals like the Range Rover and Cadillac Escalade have become the unofficial vehicles of celebrities and housewives, but the all-new 2018 Lincoln Navigator is primed to put this SUV – and Lincoln – back on the luxury map. That includes being named the 2018 North American Truck of the Year!
Sales of the fourth-gen Navigator are already on pace to hit around 16,000 units this year, which is a number this model hasn’t seen in over a decade. To see what all the fuss is about, we spent a week with a 2018 Lincoln Navigator Black Label.
2018 Lincoln Navigator Exterior
From the minute the 2018 Lincoln Navigator rolled up in our driveway, this big, blue SUV was getting looks wherever it was parked. And it isn’t hard to see why. This behemoth looks almost identical to the 2016 Navigator Concept – with the exception of the gullwing doors and step-ladder running boards, of course. This tester was also painted in a similar color as the concept, a hue called Chroma Crystal Blue available as a $1,750 option.
Unlike previous designs, this new Navigator isn’t just an Expedition with a nose job, as the Navigator only shares doors and a roof with its Blue Oval counterpart. The face of the new Navigator sports an enlarged version of the new corporate grille flanked by large headlights with stacked LED daytime running light elements. Speaking of lights, two of the coolest details of the exterior design are the illuminated badge and the sequential illumination of the running lights when the vehicle is locked and unlocked.
The Black Label trim level comes with all the goodies such as full LED exterior lighting, Illuminated power running boards and black-accented trim including the fender vent and “LINCOLN” lettering on the liftgate. Surprisingly, it was the 22-inch, 21-spoke wheels, which I really liked, that proved to be the most polarizing aspect of the whole design.
2018 Lincoln Navigator Interior
As good as the 2018 Lincoln Navigator looks on the outside, the interior is absolutely stunning. And like the exterior, the interior shares very little with its Ford counterpart, and that includes almost everything in front of the B-pillars being completely unique. If this attention to detail and brand distinction is a sign of what to expect in the future, Lincoln is on a solid path. Perhaps the best part of the Lincoln design is the piano-key transmission gear selector, which are not only superior to past Lincoln efforts but also allow for the floating center console.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator is offered in four trim levels (Premiere, Select, Reserve and Black Label), and regardless of which you choose, this big SUV delivers true first-class accommodations for up to eight occupants. Not only does the Black Label deliver the highest level of opulence, but it also gives buyers even more choice with three varying themes: Chalet, Destination and Yacht Club. Our tester was equipped with the latter theme, which brought Coastal Blue Venetian perforated leather seats, Blue Bay leather-wrapped interior (including the upper instrument panel and door panels), white teak accent trim, leather-wrapped A-pillar grab handles and a suede cloth headliner.
This tester also upped the luxury ante with Lincoln’s heated and cooled 30-way “Perfect Position” front seats, a $1,250 option, with mutli-contour massaging functions, and while these seats are extremely comfortable, they prove that there might be a thing as having too adjustability. My only real complaint about the new Navigator is the confusing locations of the starter button and Trailer Backup Assist controls, which are located in close proximity to each other on the right side of the steering column. I couldn’t even keep track of how many times I engaged Trailer Backup Assist instead of turning the vehicle on or off.
Sitting in the front seats reveals how far Lincoln has come with technology such as the SYNC 3 (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and its floating touch screen display, the 12-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster and the full-color head-up display. Wi-Fi comes standard and allows up to ten mobile devices to be connected, and there are power outlets and USB ports for each row. Speaking of the second row, the heated second row captain’s chairs are separated by a massive center console, and the third row seats are no penalty box, offering more legroom than the second row and almost as much as the first row. Shoulder room is also comparable to the front two rows.
2018 Lincoln Navigator Powertrain
In today’s luxury market, performance is almost as important as a plush interior, advanced technology and standout design, and the 2018 Lincoln Navigator delivers here, too. Under the hood, the Navigator borrows the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 from the Ford F-150 Raptor including its output of 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque; this is almost double what the original Navigator’s V8 had. Like the Raptor, the Navigator pairs this engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission helping to return EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 16 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway**, which is a considerable gain from the 2017 Navigator, to the tune of 12 percent better fuel economy on rear-wheel drive models and six percent on four-wheel drive. The advanced transmission and broad use of lightweight aluminum are key factors in the improved efficiency.
2018 Lincoln Navigator Safety
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator has yet to be tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This Black Label was decked out with all of the available safety features including Lane Keeping System, Enhanced Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Auto High Beam Headlights, Adaptive Headlights and a 360-degree backup camera.
2018 Lincoln Navigator Overall
In all likelihood, the 2018 Lincoln Navigator could go down as the most important vehicle that Ford releases this decade. Sales have started out extremely strong, and the overall attention to detail and build quality is beyond anything that Lincoln has ever built. Only time will tell if the Navigator can recapture the market domination it held in the late ’90s, but this is a promising start.
Now that the 2018 Lincoln Navigator is finally back on par with its rivals, Lincoln is no longer content with its flagship being a value proposition. The 2018 Navigator is priced starting at $72,055*, which is almost $10,000 more than a 2017 Navigator but just $3,000 less than the Escalade. The Navigator Black Label is proof that Lincoln can keep up with the Escalade and Range Rover, and its as-tested price $98,320 puts it in their ballpark as well. Aside from the Ford GT supercar, this Navigator is the most expensive vehicle Ford Motor Company has ever sold!
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Lincoln dealership and test drive the 2018 Lincoln Navigator today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.