2007 Lincoln Navigator First Drive
The King of Chrome, out powered by the King of Bling
2007 Lincoln Navigator First Drive
The Basics: Origins
Lincoln calls the Navigator “America’s original full-size luxury suv,” and when it debuted in 1998, it owned its segment. Then the Cadillac Escalade came along. The Navigator’s second-generation revamp in 2003 made it better in almost every way, thanks to sharing its platform with the Ford Expedition and F-Series trucks, but features such as power retractable running boards and a power lift gate couldn’t help it compete against the in-your-face Escalade. For its third generation, the Navigator is still based on the Expedition, but it pumps up the attitude and adds a stretched L version to help it square off against its GM rival.
The Basics: Model Mix
There are two trim levels available on the 2007 Lincoln Navigator: base and Ultimate. The base model comes standard with keyless entry, power-adjustable pedals, windows and locks, and power folding and heated outside mirrors. It also includes essentials such as reverse sensing, a universal garage door opener, dual automatic climate control, a six-CD changer, leather upholstery and a 10-way power front seat adjustment. Of course, there are airbags aplenty for front and side-impact. The Ultimate trim adds a power liftgate, moonroof and folding third-row seats, an additional overhead console, and heated and cooled front seats. Standalone options include power running boards, satellite navigation and Sirius satellite radio, a DVD system for the rears seats, a towing package and, naturally, 20-inch wheels.
The Basics: Pricing
Rear-wheel drive versions of the 2007 Lincoln Navigator Luxury models sticker for $46,575, while the Ultimate version starts at $48,575. Opt for four wheel drive and the prices bump up to $49,475 and $51,475. All prices include an $820 destination charge. Pricing for the 2007 Lincoln Navigator L is not yet available. Individual options are plentiful, and range from the affordable (a $50 chrome hood accent) to the extravagant (the $4,480 navigation and entertainment package). Also optional are a $2,485 THX-II audio system with Sirius satellite radio, $1,495 20-inch chrome wheels, and an Elite package that bundles the navigation, high-end audio system and power running boards into one $5,450 checkbox.
What’s New: Outside
World’s biggest cheese grater. World’s biggest BBQ grille. World’s biggest harmonica. Any analogy you come up with for the Navigator’s new front end always is prefaced by “world’s biggest.” Until this year, the Navigator was subdued compared to a Cadillac Escalade, but the huge chrome grille, flanked by massive jeweled headlights and topped with another bar of chrome on the domed hood, bestow upon the Navigator the title, “King of Chrome.” The grille follows the pattern of Lincoln’s latest designs for the new MKX and MKZ, but it upscales horribly to the Navigator, making it look like the SUV has the world’s biggest braces. There’s also a big chrome strip along the side, matching the optional 20-inch chrome wheels.
What’s New: Inside
In developing the interior of the new 2007 Lincoln Navigator, designers turned to its existing customer base. "The typical Lincoln Navigator owner is a check-every-box buyer," explains Lincoln’s Raj Nair. "If there’s an option, they want it.” Subsequently, the interior is awash in genuine wood trim, satin nickel accents, cool white lighting, plush leather upholstery and a peculiarly retro gauge cluster. Thanks to additional length, Navigator L models swallow 25 cubic feet of cargo behind the third row of seats; dropping all the seats unveils a massive 128.2 cubic feet of cargo in L models, while the shorty versions offer a mere 103.5 cubic feet.
What’s New: Under the Hood
Regardless of length or trim level, the 2007 Lincoln Navigator has only one engine, a 5.4-liter V8 with 300 horsepower and 365 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is routed through a six-speed automatic transmission and sent to either the rear or all four wheels, depending on the drive configuration. The suspension is fully independent – a double-wishbone setup in front and a five-link configuration in the rear – and a load-leveling option is available. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and roll stability control with are bundled with AdvanceTrac. Standard 18-inch aluminum wheels are wrapped in 255/70R18 rubber, while the optional chrome 20-inchers roll on low-profile 275/50R20 tires.
Driving: Test Car, Location
We drove an Ultimate four-wheel drive 2007 Lincoln Navigator over a course of more than 100 miles from Asheville, North Carolina to Knoxville, Tennessee. Our test route included city and suburban roadways, as well as twisty, two-lane byways that were challenging and informative for full-sized SUV that tips the scales at over three tons. Our White Chocolate Tri-Coat model with Camel Leather was inviting inside and out. Trimmed with the Elite Package and a passel of stand-alone options, the base price of $50, 655 shot to $59,755, as equipped.
There’s no question that the 2007 Lincoln Navigator is significantly improved compared to its predecessors. Its 5.4-liter Triton V8 makes enough power for everyday driving, but not enough to generate any excitement. Its six-speed transmission has been engineered for faster acceleration, smaller steps between gears and improved shift quality. Both fifth and sixth gears are overdrive to help increase fuel economy, and the transmission also locks to assist with towing duties. The four-wheel drive system is a true off-road style, with a transfer case and locking differential that, despite the ruggedness, is more likely to be used when towing and hauling loads on slick and gravel surfaces than in real off-roading.
Driving: Ride and Handling
The frame of the 2007 Lincoln Navigator is a tube-through-tube design that Lincoln’s engineers say is one of the stiffest frames in the industry, resulting in improved handling and fewer squeaks and rattles. Chassis modifications and a lower center of gravity along with the fully-independent five-link rear suspension smooth the ride, and an optional load leveling suspension keeps the ride quality consistent over uneven terrain and in corners. The Navigator’s suspension tuning definitely skews toward the luxury end of the spectrum, and while we prefer a firmer chassis we admit that the Gator never felt “floaty,” commendable considering the size and weight of this SUV. Larger and thicker brakes provide well-modulated stopping power.
The 2007 Lincoln Navigator is quieter than its predecessors. The lower noise, vibration and harshness levels are the result of added insulation to the headliner and dash as well as thicker side glass and seals, side mirrors designed to soften wind noise, and sound absorbing padding added to the carpeting to minimize tire and road noise. The result is a more luxurious environment with greater ease of conversation. The standard 10-way-power front seats are plush and amply adjustable, with heating and cooling. Second rows seats can be ordered with a 40/20/40 set-up, and the third row seats are comfortable and functional, with grab handles that aid entry and exit.
OK, we’ll admit it, we dig the 2007 Lincoln Navigator’s power-deploying running boards. They deliver a valet-service feel to entry and exit and are one of this SUV’s most appealing features. Inside, everything is adjustable for the driver: the pedals, the steering wheel angle and reach, and the seat itself of course. The interior is well laid out, with large, easy to use knobs and push-button controls. The Gator’s tall stance, big windows, HID headlights and massive outside mirrors aid visibility, and the standard reverse sensors ease parking this big beast. The dual zone climate control in the front and a rear auxiliary climate control are perfect for preventing fights over who gets to be hot or cold.
Advice: Selling Points
The 2007 Lincoln Navigator bundles numerous upgrades and new features to create a luxury living room on wheels, providing seating for up to eight and carrying up to 128.2 cubic feet of goods when the second and third row seats are folded on the new long-wheelbase Navigator L. Its striking exterior, plush interior with cool instrumentation, and plentiful standard amenities all come at a reasonable price for the class.
Advice: Deal Breakers
The biggest drawback to the 2007 Lincoln Navigator is the engine. The only choice is a 5.4-liter, 300-horsepower V8 that's also under the hood of the Lincoln Mark LT and the Ford Expedition. Its primary competition, the Cadillac Escalade, easily out-powers it with a 403-hp, 6.2-liter V8 that also boasts more torque than the Navigator. And then there’s the grille. It dominates the Navigator completely, and makes this SUV stand out in traffic like a…like a…like a 2007 Lincoln Navigator. If you like the design and don’t mind being seen – and possibly pointed at – then by all means, buy it. But anything that makes an Escalade look subdued by comparison is over the top for us.
The 2007 Lincoln Navigator’s most direction competition is the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, also reworked for the 2007 model year. Starting at $55,400 (RWD) and $57,955 (4WD). The Escalade is substantially more expensive but comes with a larger and much more powerful engine. It also offers more bling, at least in the wheels: The Slade offers 22-inch wheels to the Gator’s 20s. Closer in price is Infiniti’s QX56 full-size luxury SUV, starting at $49,950 (RWD) and $53,050 (4WD). A 5.6-liter V8 engine makes 320 hp and 393 ft-lbs of torque in front of a five-speed automatic transmission. A power rear gate is also included, as is 10-way power driver’s seat adjustment and eight-way front passenger movement.
As-tested Price: $59,755 including $820 destination charge
Engine Size and Type: 5.4-liter V8
Engine Horsepower: 300 at 5,000 rpm
Engine Torque: 365 at 3,750 rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy: 13 city/18 highway (rear wheel drive; four-wheel drive not available)
Length, inches: 208.4
Width, inches: 78
Wheelbase, inches: 119
Height, inches: 78.3
Leg room, inches (front/row 2/row 3): 41.2/39.7/37.7
Head room, inches (front/row 2/row 3): 39.6/39.7/37.6
Max. Seating Capacity: Eight
Max. Cargo Volume, cu.ft.: 103.5 cu. ft.
Photos courtesy of Lincoln