What's New for 2008
The 2008 Lincoln Navigator is now only offered in one trim level, and previously optional equipment like heated and cooled front seats, a power-folding third-row seat and a surround-sound audio system now come standard. A much-needed rearview camera is also now available.
The only way the 2008 Lincoln Navigator could be flashier and more "blingtastic" would be if it came with a flashing orange neon sign bolted to the roof advertising "Free Cristal." The front end is adorned with not one, but two huge chrome grilles complete with an optional chrome hood mustache and a Lincoln cross logo so big it could double for a religious icon. No one will deny the Navigator gets your attention, as it makes even the Escalade look subtle. If that sounds like a good thing to you, read further.
The Navigator first set sail in 1998 and was the first full-size domestic luxury SUV. Essentially a Ford Expedition with tuxedo duds, the 'Gator inspired a slew of competitors that gradually overtook it in refinement, interior quality and fame. Benefiting from a major update last year, the 2008 Navigator is seeking to recapture some of the attention it has lost (mostly to the Escalade).
The Navigator'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 materials. The only things the Navigator's missing are a disco ball, blue velour upholstery and Donna Summer on the eight-track.
Although retro to the extreme, this cabin design does help the Navigator stand out, and there are a lot of other things the big Lincoln gets right as well, such as its quiet ride, relatively low pricing and long list of standard features. It's certainly the best and shiniest Navigator yet. But in a rational sense, it's hard to make a case for the 2008 Lincoln Navigator. Sure, it can carry up to eight people and tow up to 9,000 pounds, but it's also huge, gaudy and challenges the U.S.S. Iowa for fuel consumption. In our opinion, the Caddy offers more performance and better handling, while other full-sizers like the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class and Infiniti QX56 make very compelling cases as well.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Lincoln Navigator is a full-size luxury SUV. There is only one loaded trim level available that includes 18-inch wheels, parking sensors, a power liftgate, power-folding third-row seats, leather upholstery adjustable pedals, a power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, a second-row center console and rear-seat climate control. Ten-way power front seats with heating, cooling and memory are also standard, as is a THX-certified 14-speaker audio system with six-CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary jack.
Options include 20-inch chromed wheels, a sunroof, upgraded leather seats with contrasting piping and towing preparation. There's also the Elite Package, which includes a rearview camera, rear-seat entertainment, DVD navigation and power-folding running boards. The Monochrome Limited Edition Package cuts down on some of the exterior's chrome trim and adds unique interior trim.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2008 Navigator 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. Buyers have a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. For 2008, the rear-wheel-drive Navigator has an EPA fuel economy estimate of 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway; this is about average for a large luxury SUV. Properly equipped, the rear-drive Navigator can pull 8,950 pounds.
Lincoln offers a comprehensive list of standard safety features for its flagship SUV including stability control with a rollover sensor, traction control, seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants and three-row side curtain airbags. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the 2008 Lincoln Navigator received five out of five stars for its protection of front occupants in head-on collisions.
Interior Design and Special Features
Besides looking like a modern homage to disco-era interior design, the 2008 Navigator sports a plush, welcoming interior that's packed to the chrome grilles with standard luxury features. As a full-size SUV, passenger room is excellent, and for luxury buyers who intend to make use of all three rows on a regular basis, the Navigator makes a lot of sense -- most competitors have somewhat cramped third-row accommodations. A 40/20/40-split second-row seat is available as a no-cost option (in lieu of the captain's chairs and center console) to boost capacity to eight people, while the power fold-flat third-row seat makes accessing the colossal amount of available cargo space easy. With both the second- and third-row seats folded completely flat, the Navigator can carry 104 cubic feet of cargo -- a good number for this class.
For a truck measuring 17 feet long, the 2008 Lincoln Navigator is reasonably agile, and the amount of body roll around corners is acceptable for its class. The stiffer frame and five-link independent suspension introduced last year pay noticeable dividends in the handling department, but the truck's best driving attribute is its smooth and quiet ride quality. The 5.4-liter V8 is responsive, but when asked to move 6,000 pounds of steel and chrome, it hardly makes the Navigator quick. The six-speed automatic serves up smooth shifts, but hunts a bit more than we'd like in passing situations.