9.13.2011

2011 Lincoln Navigator Review

Silver 2011 Lincoln Navigator front 3/4 view driving on city street at night
The 2011 Lincoln Navigator.
Want a big, full-lux SUV and insist on buying American? Your ride is ready.

It helps to be a bit of a traditionalist, as well, since the 2011 Lincoln Navigator is year five of the Gen 3 Navigator (and 2012's changes are minimal, so it's going into year six).  But familiarity can breed contentment...and the Navigator is like an old friend.

The downturn of the economy and upturn in gas prices has driven the amateurs out of the fullsize and luxury SUV market. It's back to the people who really want, need and appreciate them. And as a former pre-soccer mom era Suburban owner, I can tell you, the 2011 Navigator is a sweet ride.

Side view of white 2011 Lincoln Navigator
Side view of the 2011 Lincoln Navigator L

As with the now-discontinued Lincoln Town Car,  Ford hasn't been peppering the press fleets with Navigators, so we borrowed one from Fiesta Lincoln in Mesa, Arizona for a week. They put us not just in a Navigator, but the extended-length Navigator L...three rows of seats and room for a bunch of cargo, luggage, groceries, you name it, in the back.

Frankly, the Navigator looks better as the Navigator L. It's a tall beast and the 14.9 inches of extra length makes it look less blocky. And it may be me, but I think it rides considerably better in L form as well.

Our tester was also a 4X4 model, so the starting price was $62,695. For that, you get a 5.4 liter, 310 horsepower V8 with a six-speed automatic transmission, power liftgate, power folding, heated memory outside mirrors, power running boards, HID headlamps, SYNC, THX audio, heated and cooled front seats, heated 2nd row seats and power fold-flat 3rd row seats.

There's also dual-zone climate control, rear auxilary climate control, voice-activated navigation (hey, a Navigator should have nav standard), 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, forward and reverse sensing system, rain-sensing wipers, power adjustable pedals (a great thing for families whose drivers are of different heights and leg lengths. I'm 6'0". Mrs. TireKicker is 5'1".) a trailer towing package, a full complement of airbacks, Advance Trac with RSC and the Securilock anti-theft system.

Dove gray leather Lincoln Navigator interior with wood trim
The 2011 Lincoln Navigator interior.
Inside, it's leather and wood as far as the eye can see (and the interior is so spacious "as far as the eye can see" is really an issue here).  In the Navigator, standard is loaded...and yet, this one was loaded just a bit more. From the options list came Rapid Spec 101A, the monochrome limited edition package, turning a lot of normally chrome bits the body color (White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat) and adding a power moonroof for $1,645.

That White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat was extra cost, as well...$595.  An upgrade to 20 inch polished aluminum wheels cost $1,310, and all-weather floor mats were $75. $925 for destination and delivery brings the grand total to $66,320. Given that you can load a half-ton Chevy Suburban to $65,000 and change and cracking $70K in luxury SUVs isn't difficult, that's a very good value. Just be prepared at the pump...the EPA says the Navigator L 4X4 should get 13 miles per gallon in the city, 18 on the highway. Your mileage may vary. Ours did. In a 60/40 city street/urban freeway mix, we managed 12.6 mpg.

Still, it's a nice machine with tons of presence and a lot of usefulness. Lincoln's likely to either completely re-do or do away with the Navigator after 2012. If this is for you, I'd act now.

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