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This all-new entrant into the luxury SUV market is the first truck ever sold by Lincoln. Based on the highly acclaimed Ford Expedition, the Navigator is powered by a 5.4-liter, SOHC V8 engine and has standard goodies that include illuminated running boards and a load-leveling air suspension. This truck also features one of the largest grilles this side of a Kenworth.
Long-suffering Lincoln had been steadily losing sales ever since the luxury SUV boom took off several years ago. As customers flocked to Land Rover, Jeep and Ford dealerships to snap up Discoveries, Grand Cherokees and Explorers, Lincoln was left sitting with sales lots full of slow-selling Town Cars, Continentals and Mark VIIIs. Understandably frustrated with the status quo, Lincoln dealers lobbied to get a luxury version of one of Ford's SUVs. Mercury received the Explorer-based Mountaineer last year so that model was out of the question. Turns out that good things come to those who wait. The first truck ever sold at a Lincoln dealership is based on the Ford Expedition.
The Expedition is a huge truck, which fortunately meshes well with the image that people already have of Lincoln products. People don't walk into a Lincoln dealership trying to find small fuel-efficient econoboxes. Rather, they frequent Lincoln to buy big, luxurious, chrome-laden, gadget-riddled, road hogs. The Expedition is a colossal vehicle; second in size only to the Chevrolet/GMC Suburban. Add a big chrome grille, some luxury doo-dads and a few Lincoln-exclusive items to that truck, and you've got yourself a Navigator.
Lest we sound like we're disparaging this truck, let us quickly say that it is indeed a serious workhorse. The Navigator is equipped with a sophisticated SOHC V8 engine that produces 230 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque. It has a payload capacity of nearly two tons, can hold 116.4 cubic feet of flotsam and jetsam, and can tow 8,000 pounds right out of the box. When equipped with 4WD, the Navigator can pound through the forest faster than Paul Bunyon with Babe, the blue ox. Its interior will comfortably hold eight passengers, and the second row seats come standard as captain's chairs. As a Lincoln, it features all of the luxury conveniences that are normally reserved for passenger cars.
No, it's not that the Navigator is a bad performer, merely its styling is a tad overdone. Particularly displeasing to our eyes is the Navigator's obnoxious grille and overly busy hood. Also, the side-cladding and integrated running boards conspire to make the truck look chubby: not that hard to do on a 5,500-pound vehicle.
Despite these quibbles, Lincoln dealers are finding themselves flush with cash. The base price of the Navigator is over $39,000 and, according to Automotive News, Lincoln is selling more Navigators than it can make at current plant capacity. If you want one, march down to your local dealership with cash in hand and be ready to wait; there may be a backlog for this debutante of the national forest.