What's New for 2008
The 2008 Lincoln Navigator L is now offered in only one trim level, with previously optional equipment now standard, including heated and cooled front seats, a power-folding third-row seat and the THX premium sound system. A much-needed rearview camera is now available.
In certain ways, humans haven't come much farther than our mastodon-hunting, cave-dwelling forbears. Despite a million or so years of countless advances, shiny objects still have a tendency to leave us mesmerized and strangely impressed. The 2008 Lincoln Navigator L was apparently designed with this principle in mind, because its massive grille attracts attention (for better or worse) like a Las Vegas marquee advertising a $5 steak dinner and Wayne Newton Live! Some will probably find the 'Gator's colossal, chrome-plated front end as tasteful as that marquee, but Lincoln is hoping this sort of brash styling statement will appeal to the types of buyers who have made the Cadillac Escalade ESV such a success.
The Navigator first set sail in 1998 and was the first full-size luxury SUV from a domestic-brand manufacturer. Essentially a Ford Expedition in a tuxedo, the 'Gator inspired a slew of competitors that gradually overtook it in refinement, interior quality and the number of references in rap songs. Introduced last year in conjunction with major updates to the Navigator in general, the long-wheelbase L model is meant to recapture some of the lost attention and sales. Compared to the standard-size model, the Navigator L offers an extra 24 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seat.
This is certainly the biggest, best and shiniest Navigator yet, and we like its quiet ride, relatively low pricing and long list of standard features. However, as large luxury SUVs go, the 2008 Lincoln Navigator L wouldn't be our top pick. The extended-length Caddy offers more performance and better handling, while smaller full-sizers like the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class and Infiniti QX56 make compelling cases as well if you don't need quite that much space.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Lincoln Navigator L is an extended-wheelbase full-size luxury SUV offered with rear- and four-wheel-drive. There is only one loaded trim level available. It includes 18-inch wheels, parking sensors and a slew of power features including extending running boards, a rear liftgate, a folding third-row seat, leather upholstery, adjustable pedals, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel and 10-way front seats with heating, cooling and memory. There are also a second-row center console, rear-seat climate control and a THX-certified 14-speaker audio system with six-CD changer, satellite radio and auxiliary jack.
Options include 20-inch wheels, a sunroof, upgraded leather seats with contrasting piping, and a tow package. The Elite Package bundles a rearview camera, rear-seat DVD entertainment and a navigation system. A Monochrome Limited Edition package cuts down on some of the exterior's chrome trim and adds unique interior trim.
Powertrains and Performance
The Navigator L is powered by the same 5.4-liter V8 that drives other Ford trucks. It's good for 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, and sends its power through a six-speed automatic transmission. While 300 horses may sound like a full stable, the Navigator L's hefty curb weight keeps it from feeling sprightly. When equipped with the towing package, this full-size SUV can pull up to 8,800 pounds with rear-wheel drive and 8,600 pounds with four-wheel drive. Because the Navigator L weighs more than 6,000 pounds, it does not qualify for EPA fuel economy testing; the lighter, regular-length Navigator rates 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway for 2008.
Lincoln offers a comprehensive list of standard safety features for its flagship SUV, including stability control with a rollover sensor, antilock disc brakes with brake assist and traction control. Airbag coverage includes front-seat side airbags and three-row side curtain airbags. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the Navigator received five out of five stars for its protection of front occupants in head-on collisions.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2008 Navigator L's interior looks like Lincoln traveled back in time, collected some of its designers from 1975 and brought them back to the future to fashion the retro cabin with modern, premium-grade materials. The classic split dash evokes past Lincolns, and the square gauges look as if they were removed wholesale from a '77 Continental Mark V.
Beyond aesthetics, the Navigator L has an immense amount of passenger and cargo space. With the available second-row bench seat, maximum passenger capacity is eight people. The power-folding third-row seat is large enough that full-size adults can actually sit back there, and even when it's up, there are still 42.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity available. When you need more than that, the third row folds in a convenient 60/40 split, yielding 86.3 cubic feet of space. With all the rear seats out of the way, there are an impressive 128.2 cubes -- second only to the Escalade ESV among luxury SUVs.
The 5.4-liter V8 is responsive, but no one would call the 2008 Lincoln Navigator L quick. The six-speed automatic serves up smooth shifts, but hunts a bit more than we'd like in passing situations. Ride quality is smooth and comfortable, and the cabin is well insulated from noise on the highway. Considering that it weighs more than 6,000 pounds, 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. The same applies in tight urban parking situations, where its more than 18-foot length makes maneuvering into parking spots feel like piloting the Carnival Crown Princess into port.