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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Lincoln Navigator Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Lincoln Navigator Overview

A Huge Leap Forward for the American Luxury SUV

When the original Lincoln Navigator first came to market, many automotive publications criticized its not-so-subtle Ford Expedition roots. Fortunately for Lincoln, the public disagreed in record numbers and Navigator sales took off like a rocket. Still, there were some valid points in those early reviews, so for 2003, Lincoln has gone to great lengths to convince even the most skeptical observer that the new Navigator is composed of 100% Lincoln DNA.

At first glance, the new Navigator does not appear all that different from the old. But take a longer look, and the differences begin to appear. The grille is more angular and is flanked by larger, flush-mounted headlamps. Along the sides there are new optional running boards that electrically extend out whenever the doors are opened. 18-inch 8-spoke chrome wheels and wider tires fill in the wheel wells and new, larger side-view mirrors now incorporate puddle lights that project light downward. These subtle but important changes improve on the Lincoln's design, while still allowing the overall product to be easily recognizable as a Navigator.

The changes to the 2003 Navigator do not stop with the exterior. The Navigator's frame (the steel rails the body sits upon) has been redesigned to allow the bumper height to correspond with that of an ordinary passenger car. This important safety measure ensures the Navigator will not suffer nor inflict great damage in a fender-bender type collision with a vehicle of lesser stature. At the rear of the frame, an independent suspension has been installed, replacing the old, solid axle. With each axle free to move independently of the other, the Navigator's ride, handling and stability has greatly improved.

Under the hood, a willing 5.4-liter V8 eagerly awaits your command to unleash its 300 horsepower, which is important because with the Navigator's size and increased weight, you will probably find yourself making this request often. Not that the new Navigator is slow, it's just not blindingly quick; and for this class of vehicle, that is perfectly acceptable. The improved ride and impressive road feel transmitted through the steering wheel are the real stories here; if you drive a 2002 Navigator back to back with a 2003 model, you will find that there is no contest between the two.

For all the mechanical improvements, the single most important change has to be the new interior. One look and you are instantly reminded of the classic 1962 Continental, a car whose clean, straightforward design still elicits an aura of elegant simplicity and high desirability. Beginning with the Navigator's dashboard, you will notice a wide satin-silver finished panel that covers the navigation and audio unit; below it, satin silver finish also covers the heating and ventilation controls as well as the center console. On either side of the center panel, two hooded rectangular pods face the driver and passenger, punctuated by a thick strip of genuine American Walnut that continues over the doors and center console. Bright white LED lights illuminate every control imaginable, including those on the handsomely designed steering wheel.

The seats, door panels and trim pieces are all covered in matching textured leather that is of the highest quality. The seats themselves are a delight to sit in and feature multiple adjustments that allow just about anyone to get cozy. You will find excellent back and thigh support, not only from the front, but from the center and third-row seats as well. Speaking of third-row seats, the Navigator has a seat you will love; an optional electrically-operated folding split-rear seat that disappears to create a perfectly flush floor. Opt for the optional electrically operated tailgate, and you may never again have to soil your hands before having the valet load your golf clubs.

There will be three trim levels—Luxury, Premium and Ultimate. As the name implies, the Ultimate will be loaded to the gills and will probably be the first choice of those who don't like to waste time checking off option boxes. If a luxury SUV is in your future, you absolutely must test the new Navigator; it's simply the best luxury vehicle to come out of Lincoln in years.

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