2023 Lincoln Navigator Reserve review | WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR

Luxury comes in all sizes, but if you’re needing a luxury SUV in large or extra large, Lincoln has the answer in a big way.

Navigator is a full-size 3-row luxury SUV with, as my aunts used to say, all the trimmings. Second Hand Cars

2023 Lincoln Navigator Reserve review | WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR

Tested was the mid-range Navigator Reserve with 4-wheel-drive and enough plush leather inside to insight a stampede at any cattle ranch. But that’s just the start. Let’s dive in.

First, there’s the size, a full 210 inches in length and riding on a massive 122.5-wheelbase the Navigator, a cousin to Ford’s Expedition, touts three rows of seating and no one will feel cramped. OK, NBA types might opt for one of the first two rows, but a normal sized adult can easily find adequate knee and headroom in row three.

Both rear rows also will power down thanks to handy buttons inside the power hatch. Note that row three seats power down and back up, while row two seats require a human to lift the backs to a vertical position. That’s sort of a heavy task, but hey, you’ve got a gym membership.

Crawling aboard the Navigator could be a stretch too as it rides on its 22-inch wheels ($995 extra) and tires. That’s not so tough here though because the Lincoln touts power illuminated running boards that sense when the key fob is near and lower for easy boarding. No word on how winter’s snowy icepack might affect those, but I’ve not heard of any functional sticking points.

The power is impressive too with an enthusiastic 440 horses from the twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 (similar to Ford’s racy Raptor pickup) that kicks out 510 pound-feet of torque. While no one will mistake this mammoth Diamond Red ($750 extra) Navigator for a sporty vehicle, that powerplant helps it do zero-60 mph in just 5.3 seconds says Car and Driver. That’s if you select the Excite driving mode. That’s a real thing.

You’ll likely want to use that oomph solely for highway entry so as not to suck anymore fuel. But if you need the power it’s there for straightline performance. Being big and top-heavy, you’ll need to slow some for turns, but I found the Lincoln easy to control on the freeway and its 10-speed automatic is as silky as the interior is welcoming.

In fact, one needn’t even hold onto the steering wheel while cruising the Interstate. I picked the Navigator up in Chicago and drove it the 90 or so miles to home and only touched the wheel, once on the freeway, a few times to change lanes.

All that is thanks to ActiveGlide, or BlueCruise in Fords, a semi-autonomous hands-free driving system. This works much like cruise control and the SUV will tell you via the driver’s digital instrument panel when it’s available. The system is programmed to include 130,000-miles of highway system. While testing a similar Navigator more than a year ago, I found the system cutting in and out frequently. Not this time.

Nope, it was dead-on perfect, and it also monitors a driver’s attention, so once while I was admiring some Christmas lights along the roadside it warned me to pay attention to the road. Enough said!

I only found one slight problem and that was cruising north of Milwaukee’s Zoo Interchange where construction had added a fourth lane before North Avenue on US 41/45. That had just been completed and the system was not aware of the finished traffic pattern. Once past that area it was good to go hands-free again.

The ride is trucky as this is a body-on-frame truck. So, there’s some bounce on major road imperfections and potholes. It never becomes punishing, just a bit of jiggle and bounding after a road jolt.

For traction there’s a 4-wheel-drive system too and a trailer towing system to help hook up your snowmobiles, speedboat or camper. Navigator can tow up to 8,700 pounds. Add to that seven drive modes to help deal with snow, slippery conditions or off-road mud and ruts. All that is easily adjusted on the console.

Electronic safety systems are robust too with pre-collision assist, lane departure and blind-spot warning and such. All the usual assist systems you’d expect.

As impressive as the size and power are, it’s the quiet leather-packed interior that distinguishes Navigator as a prime luxury SUV.

In the test truck that started with well-shaped tan leather seats that are 30-way adjustables, so easy to get comfy. Seat controls along with three memory buttons are atop the doors while the dash is a two-tone brown over tan with open-pore wood trim between. That wood covers the console too while chrome trims all the instrument buttons and knobs.

But here’s where things start to get interesting. While front and second row seats are heated and cooled, there’s also a massaging feature for both rows. Yes, a driver or his or her favorite three passengers, can each punch a button to turn on massaging seats. The rear seat had a giant armrest/console with screen to adjust these, along with climate controls and radio.

Five massage settings allow folks to decide whether it’s just their back or also their rear being massaged. Only one setting, Pulse, seems a bit odd. There’s Circular, Recovery, Relax and Rolling, all of which use inflating air bladders in the seat to push on various parts of your body. Nice on a long trip and the row two massage feature costs just $625.

Further luxury comes from accelerator and brake pedals that power closer or further from the driver at the push of a button. Likewise, the steering wheel is a power tilt/telescope model.

Overhead is a massive panoramic sunroof and shade while the dash is dominated by a 13.2-inch touchscreen for the info and radio controls. It works simply while all the climate controls, including the heated seats, are on the raised portion of the console. Simple to find and operate.

There are even tuning and volume knobs there to simplify radio operation. The heated steering wheel is operated via a button on the massive screen while a wireless phone charger is inside a covered cubby on the console.

A few other points to ponder.

Gas mileage is poor, rated at 16 mpg city and 22 highway. I managed just 16.3 including my highway romp up from Chicago where it showed 20 mpg on the computer. Luckily Navigator drinks regular petrol, but a hybrid or plug-in hybrid system is needed.

This test truck was the standard Navigator. There’s also an L version, meaning longer that adds another 15 inches of cargo space behind row three to make this a massive cargo and people hauler. As is, there’s about 20 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row in this trim or 103.3 cubic feet if rows two and three are folded flat.

Naturally the L is more expensive, about $3,000 extra.

But what’s that when you’re spending roughly $100 grand on an SUV? The base Navigator starts about $79,500 with RWD and $84,255 for 4WD. That’s for 2023 models. The 2024 models cost more and come only with 4WD. This Reserve model with 4WD listed at $96,165 including delivery, A top-level Black Label edition lists at $110,800.

Competitors include Jeep’s Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, Cadillac’s Escalade, the Lexus LX 600, Genesis GV80, Range Rover, Infiniti QX80, and even BMW’s X7 that’s smaller, but equally luxurious.

With more than $10,000 in options the test Navigator hit $107,390. That included a heavy-duty trailering package plus an equipment group to give third-row folks their own climate control, privacy glass all around, along with a rockin’ 14-speaker Revel Ultima audio system. This one also had the captain’s chairs in the second row, meaning seven could ride in this Lincoln. Go with the bench seat in row two and Navigator will seat eight.

One other bit of fancy, the tester added a lighted Lincoln star to its grille. Bling!

Hits: Plush, large 3-row SUV with enthusiastic yet smooth power, mostly comfy ride and AWD. Massaging heated/cooled seats rows 1 and 2, power retractable running boards, 13-inch info screen, giant sunroof, heated steering wheel, power third row seats, power-down second row, wireless charger, power fold/slide second row, and quiet interior. Good safety gear, plus ActiveGlide hands-free driving system.

Misses: Ride remains a bit big truck bouncy, second row seats quite heavy and difficult to push back into place after lowering. Gas mileage and annoying rear seat alert.

Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, 440 hp/510 torque

Equipment group 201A (tri-zone climate control, Revel HD audio, privacy glass, Embrace lit grille star), $6,310

Second row captain’s chairs w/massage, $625

22-inch 12-spoke BMA wheels with black trim, $995

2023 Lincoln Navigator Reserve review | WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR

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