Full 2011 Lincoln Navigator Review
What's New for 2011
The 2011 Lincoln Navigator receives a few new features including HD radio, dual displays for the rear-seat entertainment system and a 110-volt AC power outlet.
If you find yourself feeling nostalgic for those pre-recession days of conspicuous consumption, you'll like the 2011 Lincoln Navigator. Granted, times have changed quite a bit since this third generation of Lincoln's full-size SUV was introduced back in 2007. A global economic downturn, high gas prices and growing concern for the environment might have many buyers thinking twice about driving a flashy SUV like this, but that doesn't take anything away from the functional capabilities of the vehicle itself.
As status symbols go, the Navigator -- and its long-wheelbase sibling known as the Navigator L -- is still pretty impressive with its available 20-inch chrome wheels, spacious leather- and wood-lined passenger cabin and plush ride. Underneath all this glitz, however, is a relatively practical SUV with comfortable seating for a small crowd and the ability to tow a big trailer. If you're planning on towing really big loads, however, know that the Navigator's 5.4-liter V8 can be underwhelming in the power department.
In the full-size luxury SUV segment, the Navigator is up against some stiff competition. The Mercedes GL-Class offers better handling and a more prestigious image, while the Cadillac Escalade and Infiniti QX56 boast much more powerful V8 engines. Shoppers might also want to consider the Ford Expedition, which is largely identical to the Navigator under the skin, yet priced significantly lower. Even so, the 2011 Lincoln Navigator still comes recommended thanks to its all-around comfort and relatively agreeable price.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Lincoln Navigator is a full-size luxury SUV offered as either the regular Navigator or the extended-wheelbase Navigator L. Three-row, seven-passenger seating is standard, and the second-row captain's chairs can be replaced with a three-person bench to increase capacity to eight.
Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors, a power liftgate, power-folding running boards, a back-up camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, adjustable pedals, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear auxiliary controls, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated and ventilated power front seats, driver memory settings, heated second- and third-row seats and a power-folding third-row bench. Also standard are the Sync voice command system, Bluetooth and a 14-speaker surround-sound audio system with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio and a USB jack.
The vast expanses of exterior chrome might be a bit too flashy for the more understated buyer, so Lincoln offers a Monochrome Appearance package that substitutes body-colored elements for some of the chrome accents and adds power-folding heated outside mirrors with puddle lights. A similar Monochrome Limited Edition package includes unique leather upholstery and trim. Other options include 20-inch chromed wheels, a sunroof, a heavy-duty tow package, a second-row 40/20/40-split bench, a hard-drive-based navigation system with Sirius Travel Link and a rear-seat video system.
Powertrains and Performance
Under the hood of the 2011 Lincoln Navigator is a 5.4-liter V8 that produces 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission available, but buyers can choose between two- and four-wheel-drive models. Properly equipped, a rear-wheel-drive Navigator is capable of towing up to 9,000 pounds.
The last Navigator L we tested accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds, off the pace for this segment. EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined.
The 2011 Lincoln Navigator comes standard with stability control (with a rollover sensor), traction control, antilock disc brakes with brake assist, front-seat side airbags and three-row side curtain airbags.
Also standard is Trailer Sway Control, which uses the stability control sensors to detect and minimize a trailer's tendency to weave under some circumstances. For 2011, the programmable MyKey system is standard equipment, a nifty feature that allows parents to specify speed limits and stereo volumes for their teenage drivers.
In government crash tests, the Navigator received a perfect five-star rating for frontal- and side-impact occupant protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Buyers looking for a posh way to get between Points A and B will feel right at home in the Navigator's handsome passenger cabin. Quality materials and virtually every high-end feature imaginable, from heated and ventilated front seats to power-retractable running boards, only increase the coddling factor.
The voice-operated Sync system is particularly useful; among other functions, it allows you to control your cell phone and iPod (or other MP3 player) without removing your hands from the steering wheel.
When passengers need to make way for cargo, the manually operated second row and power-folding third-row seats are easily stowed, providing a flat floor for easy loading. In this configuration, the base Navigator can hold a respectable 104 cubic feet of cargo. The longer Navigator L, thanks to its additional space behind the rear seats, has a total cargo capacity of 128 cubic feet.
Like any good luxury vehicle, the 2011 Lincoln Navigator offers a supple ride quality and a hushed cabin that largely insulates you from the outside world.
Acceleration seems satisfactory until you compare it to the significantly gutsier Escalade. The 5.4-liter V8 engine's relative power deficit is especially noticeable on Navigator L models when loaded down with people and/or cargo or while pulling a large trailer. The six-speed automatic offers quick shifts, though it sometimes has a hard time finding a suitable gear for the driving situation at hand.