Lincoln Navigator Performance
Compared with others in its class, the Navigator lacks power and has less competitive braking performance.
Cars.com says the Navigator's engine "seems woefully lacking in the power department, especially at takeoff." They add, "There was zero excitement about pressing the gas pedal, and leaving a stoplight never elicited joy of any kind." Each trim level is available in either two-wheel rear drive (4x2) or four-wheel drive (4x4) configurations.
Acceleration and Power
Every Lincoln Navigator is powered by a 300-hp 5.4-liter 3-valve V-8 engine which makes 365 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,750 rpm. According to New Car Test Drive, "In 2001, Navigator was the first full-sized luxury sport-utility vehicle to hit the 300-hp barrier. Six years later, its 5.4-liter single-overhead cam Triton V8 still generates a maximum 300 horsepower, and virtually every other big SUV has passed it by." Nevertheless, New Car Test Drive asserts that "there's more than enough acceleration in the Navigator to merge safely or turn quickly across traffic, and it's probably quicker than what we considered a fairly quick car" in the 90's. Edmunds calls the V8 "responsive" adding that the six-speed automatic "serves up smooth shifts, but hunts a bit more than we'd like in passing situations."
With the exception of the Navigator L (the 'stretch' version of the big Lincoln), 4x2 trims maintain an EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy of 12/18 mpg. The 4x4 and L trims have not yet been rated by the EPA. As for the L, according to the Detroit News, it's "big enough so the federal government doesn't require Ford Motor Co. to post any EPA fuel-economy ratings." Even so, New Car Test Drive boasts that "its Triton V8 runs on 87-octane regular, while nearly all the other vehicles in this class demand premium fuel." Still, Edmunds asserts, "This is something like being crowned the sprightliest man in the nursing home. But fuel is money and the less of it used, the better as far as we're concerned."
The 2008 Lincoln Navigator is only available with a 6-speed automatic transmission -- which reviewers generally agree performs well. "This is the same transmission used in Jaguar's flagship XJ sedan and other big luxury cars, and it's both smooth and responsive," claims New Car Test Drive. "It performs almost exactly as we like, shifting up or down when we would if we were doing it with a gear-change and clutch, and almost never shifting inappropriately."
Handling and Braking
On balance, most reviewers feel that the Navigator delivers acceptable ride and handling for such a large vehicle. Thereports, "On the road, the Navigator mimics its Lincoln sibling. Call it the Town Car of big SUVs . . . Lincoln's engineers also have done a fine job in tuning the suspension for a comfortable ride."
Edmunds adds that ride quality is "smooth and comfortable, and the cabin is well insulated from noise on the highway." The Family Car says, "Handling was respectable for such a large vehicle with good directional stability and responsive steering and brakes." Edmunds reports that, despite its size, "the big 'Gator offers surprisingly secure and predictable handling around corners, although it's still a big vehicle and demands that you respect it as such."
All 2008 Navigators come outfitted with variable-assist power rack-and-pinion steering. While Cars.com boasts that steering is "surprisingly accurate and relatively light for an SUV," New Car Test Drive asserts that "steering is on the heavy side" -- which makes it hard to parallel park. The Detroit News adds, "The ride is relatively smooth, but the vehicle is not easy to control at speed, in part because the steering doesn't provide crisp or immediate feedback from the road surface and requires constant corrections." Equipped on all Lincoln Navigators is an independent multilink rear suspension with monotube shock absorbers and front/rear stabilizer bars. Although a rear load-leveling suspension comes standard on the Navigator Ultimate 4x4, it's only an option for all other trim levels. Most reviewers agree with Cars.com's assessment that on "most surfaces," the "soft" suspension makes for a "pleasant" ride.
All trim levels come equipped with a 4-wheel disc anti-lock brake system as well as Electronic Brake-Force Distribution. Despite this, Cars.com asserts that the Lincoln Navigator's brakes are "unreliable in bad weather", requiring extra distance to bring the big vehicle to a stop. The Detroit News agrees, stating, "Ford still hasn't figured out how to properly tune the brakes, so stopping this land yacht can become a hair-raising experience." Still, in normal driving, New Car Test Drive notes that even though braking in 4x4 models may feel a bit "soft," it's still "very progressive in application and easy to master for smooth, even stops." Consumer Guide concludes that the brakes are "strong, but fast stops induce lots of nosedive."
Heavy Duty Trail Tow Package
Every Navigator sports Lincoln's Class III Standard-Duty Trailer Tow Package as well as front integrated tow hooks. However, when properly equipped with Lincoln's Heavy Duty Trail Tow Package -- which includes a four-pin and seven-pin connector, a 2-in. receiver, brake module wiring, a heavy-duty rear integrated hitch, a radiator, a transmission cooler and flashers -- all 4x2 and 4x4 trim levels can tow a maximum capacity of 9,000 lbs. and 8,800 lbs., respectively. Kelley Blue Book describes the Lincoln Navigator as one "highly capable hauler."