2021 Lincoln Navigator review: American exceptionalism

Big boi.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

Why do American automakers get upset when they are tasked with creating a luxury vehicle that has to compete with the Germans? It always seems that Uncle Sam has a hard time meeting the gathering than anything beyond his own shores. But not anymore. The latest Lincoln Navigator greatly increases effort, bringing a level of fantasy that is truly world-class.

Like it

  • Luxurious internal appointments
  • Interesting color combinations
  • Quiet and comfortable cruise

I do not like

  • Sometimes the quality of a truck driver
  • Thirsty
  • Noisy massagers and other nonsense

All of Lincoln’s latest SUVs have really stepped up efforts, but nowhere is that more noticeable than on the flagship Navigator in its top Black Label configuration. The Navigator on my driveway brings the new Special Edition package for 2021, a $ 6,695 upgrade that adds more exterior flavor through a black and white pattern that includes a black roof, black roof rack, black wheels and a monochrome grille alongside Paint pristine white. It’s a good look, but man, it’s a big chunk of change for some mild add-ons. Regardless of the package, however, the Navigator creates an imposing shadow, and not just because it’s the size of a Chicago brownstone.

The interior of the Navigator Black Label 2021 is fantastic. It’s the best-equipped American luxury car I’ve had the pleasure of driving, and it’s just as stylish as the one you’ll find at a Mercedes dealership. This carries the “Destination” Black Label theme, which is meant to represent French elegance, I believe, in some way. But I don’t need a marketing degree to appreciate this gorgeous all-red leather interior, which plays well with the dashboard, door and center console dashes of the same color trim. While the Cadillac Escalade makes a little effort to hide its parts basket engineering (you can find steering wheel buttons on, like, half of GM-made cars), every piece of the Navigator looks special, from the metal rocker switches on the steering wheel to the knurled volume knob on the center console. Almost every surface is upholstered or covered in leather.

Usability abounds in 2021 Navigator. The large center console floats above a sizable storage tray, with two tiers of pockets on each door and a fairly large storage space under the center armrest. While you can choose a center console to rest between the second-row captain’s chairs, my tester lacks this, making third-row entry and exit incredibly easy. Staying on the back isn’t even a big question, thanks to some spacious proportions; there’s an extra inch of legroom than you’d find in a similarly equipped Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, and my 6-foot chassis should be comfortable here for hours. The standard wheelbase navigator offers around 20 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, which is OK, but flipping a couple of switches to fold those seats gives you up to 60 cubes, expanding to 103 when minimizing too. captain’s chairs.

Honestly, the interiors of the Navigator 2021 are so well thought out that its only apparent flaws are silly little things that most people probably won’t care about. The infotainment screen frame is as big as a cartoon. The cup holders are surprisingly small. The seat massagers are louder than those of the competition. The movement of the flasher lever is too soft, which resulted in me losing the stop by three beats. Silly minutiae like that.

One carryover Lincoln should be proud of is the engine under the hood. The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 is the same one you’ll find in the Ford Expedition and F-150, and it’s a peach. Producing 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque, the Navigator is never left short of forward motion, as the six potentiometer provides a readily available wave of torque that makes the whole show seem surprisingly lively. The 10-speed automatic transmission moves through the gears smoothly. Under most operating conditions, the Navigator 2021’s ride is adequately smooth, with the only real ride quality issue coming into play on sharp bumps, where you get some body jerks, which are only exacerbated on my tester thanks to its 22 inch wheels.

Sure you he could ride it like a monster, but the Navi is best when treated like there are three VIPs in the back. Roll gently on the accelerator and make liberal use of the well-tuned brake pedal, and you’ll be rewarded with smooth operation. Its body-on-frame bases also give it some solid capabilities; check the box for the heavy tow pack and you can drag 8,700lbs from here to Timbuktu.

Luxury is expensive, and that also includes the gas pump. The 2021 Navigator Black Label is estimated by the EPA at 16 miles per city gallon and 20 mpg on the highway, numbers I’ve been able to meet but not beat on a couple of hundred miles of driving. There’s an Echo-specific mode available to numb the inputs and make it easier to be efficient, and it helps a little. There’s also a Sport mode, which must be some kind of joke that I’m not smart enough to get, because under no circumstances should anyone attempt to drive this dwarf planet remotely aggressively.

Lincoln could have leaned much more heavily on the Ford parts bin, but don’t, the Navigator just feels a lot more special.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

The Navigator’s complement of in-car technology starts dead center on the dashboard with a 10-inch touchscreen display running the latest version of Ford Sync software. The icons on the screen are easy to read at a glance and Ford’s telematics habit is easy to get used to, but you can always rely on Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if you prefer a smartphone-style experience. In addition to the center screen, there is also a 12-inch display, which sports a minimal layout that I really like, displaying only the most relevant information. A head-up display further reduces distractions. When it comes time to recharge, there are USB ports in every row, with the first occupants treated with both USB-A and USB-C sockets. The Navigator lacks the full-screen dashboard experience of the Cadillac Escalade, but it’s a good setup nonetheless.

The truck-adjacent side of the automotive industry is no longer without the same safety systems found on passenger cars. The 2021 Navigator comes standard with the Ford Co-Pilot 360 suite of active and passive safety systems, which includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality is a $ 695 premium on lower finishes, but becomes standard as you level up. Of course, the Escalade can replace the Navigator here with its Super Cruise driver assistance technology.

Hopefully, the display bezel is hilariously large because Lincoln intends to update the display size at a later date.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

Predictably, the 2021 Lincoln Navigator is not a cheap mode of transportation. Its starting price of $ 77,840 (including $ 1,295 per destination) only jumps north when options are considered. This Black Label model is equipped as much as possible and its $ 106,115 price tag is the pill to swallow, until you realize the similarly powered Mercedes-Benz GLS580 is pretty much it begins to the six-digit mark.

If pure luxury (and some capabilities) is what you’re looking for, the Navigator sits at the top of the stack of large luxury SUVs. In terms of absolute comfort, the Mercedes GLS-Class is probably its closest competitor with its excellent ride quality. Those looking for the latest technology for drivers will want to check out the Cadillac Escalade with Super Cruise. Other body-on-frame competitors include the Infiniti QX80 and Lexus LX 570, both of which are quite old under their revised exteriors. There’s also the Range Rover, in case you want to ditch the third row and add the ability to drive through nearly 3 feet of standing water. Hey, you never know.

Launched against competitors or not, the 2021 Lincoln Navigator is an exceptional SUV. Its Black Label upholstery brings an impressive level of luxury to the table, while its bases give it great capacity, whether it’s interior space or towing. It’s a resplendent city on a hill, a rolling testimony of prosperity and power that makes you feel important the moment you slip behind the wheel.

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