Back On Top (for now): The 2018 Lincoln Navigator 4X4 Black Label

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Lincoln Navigator 4X4 Black Label
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator 4X4 Black Label.
Fifty years ago (!), the folks at Motor Trend had an annual battle they called "King of the Hill", in which they pitted the Lincoln Continental Mark III (and later IV) against the Cadillac Eldorado. The object was to see which was the pinnacle of American luxury, and, to be honest, American and perhaps global excess.

Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The battleground for American luxury is no longer found in two-door coupes, but in massive SUVs.  And the two players are, in 2018, still Lincoln and Cadillac.  In 2017, Lincoln wasn't a player, selling the positively ancient last-gen Navigator.  But for '18, the all-new Navigator lands while Caddy is still preparing the next-generation Escalade.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Lincoln Navigator 4X4 Black Label
2018 Lincoln Navigator 4X4 Black Label.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator also arrives at the moment when Lincoln is taking a serious, possibly final shot at re-establishing itself as a serious luxury brand, after decades of self-inflicted wounds that gained it a reputation as a tarted-up, priced-up Ford.   The new Continental was the first move in this direction, met with fair-to-middling success.  Given that it's an SUV world, the Navigator may be the machine that saves Lincoln.

Not only is the Navigator styled much differently from its platform cousin, the Ford Expedition, inside and out, it's a different machine under the hood, too.  The Ecoboost 3.5-liter V6 that lives in the engine bay of the Expedition makes 375 horsepower (400 in the Platinum trim).  The 2018 Lincoln Navigator uses a 3.5-liter V6, too, but it is twin-turbocharged and produces 450 horsepower, not only out-muscling its less-wealthy relative, but generating 30 horsepower more than the current Cadillac Escalade.

The new Navigator is the best evidence yet that Lincoln understands what American luxury is and should be in the latter part of the 20-teens. That's especially true for Navigators optioned as Black Label vehicles, as our tester was.  2018 Lincoln Navigators come in Premiere (base price $72,555), Select ($76,555), reserve ($81,705) and Black Label, which is not a step so much as a quantum leap up in features and luxury, with a sticker that reflects that, at $93,705.

For that significant leap in MSRP, Black Label gives you a dedicated concierge,  an in-dealership studio with a private fitting room and remote vehicle delivery within 30 miles of a participating Lincoln Black Label dealer (not all Lincoln dealers are Black Label).   You get free car washes, anytime detailing, premium maintenance including pickup and delivery within a 50 mile radius of a participating Lincoln Black Label dealer, access to the AVIS President's Club, membership in CLEAR, which uses biometrics to allow you to skip long security lines at the airport, and access to a curated list of fine dining restaurants coast-to-coast, including a complimentary dinner for two for new members.

Interior view of 2018 Lincoln Navigator 4X4 Black Label with Destination theme
2018 Lincoln Navigator 4X4 Black Label Destination interior.
You also get a choice of three interior themes, Yacht Club, Chalet and Destination, which was the one our tester was outfitted in.  Destination features Mahogany Red Venetian leather, with diamond-wave perforations in the seating surfaces.  The center console and doors have Khaya mahogany appliques.  Between the sumptuous surroundings, the awesome 20-speaker Revel audio system and the sole major option, Perfect Position Seating, offering 30-way adjustability and a massage function,  I was seriously spoiled for a week...to the point where I could see myself living like this on a daily basis. It's the first time I've been in an American vehicle with a price tag racing headlong toward six figures that I felt was worth it.  This must have been what the classic Continentals felt like back several decades...truly special automobiles.

The tab?  $93,705 for the 2018 Lincoln Navigator 4X4 Black Label Destination, $1,250 for Perfect Position Seating, $420 for a cargo package and $1,195 destination and delivery.  Bottom line: $96,570.  Were I blessed with that sort of money for transportation, I'd do it in a heartbeat.  Were I blessed with significantly more, our three car garage would have the Lexus LC 500h,  the Lexus LS 500 and the 2018 Lincoln Navigator 4X4 Black Label Destination.  It's that good, and that's why it joins the other two at the top of the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right side of this page.