2003 Lincoln Navigator Road Test

2003 Lincoln Navigator Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (2)
  • Comparison (1)
  • Long-Term

2003 Lincoln Navigator SUV

(5.4L V8 4-speed Automatic)

No one else really matters. Just as you can brush aside the neighbors with the Prius who sneer at you every time you back your SUV out of the driveway, you can dismiss the tiresome environmentalists who claim that efforts to mine the oil reserves on national forest land are short-sighted and ultimately inadequate to the task of keeping trucks like yours nourished. Yes, you can make them all go away, live only for today and buy the vehicle that makes you the most comfortable.

Heretofore, though, owning the ultimate in comfort and style might have meant dealing with the numb steering, corpse-like body and poor rearward visibility of a large truck-based SUV. However, with the release of the 2003 Navigator, Lincoln has largely removed this disadvantage from fullsize SUV ownership. While the first generation (1998-2002) exhibited groggy reflexes, this Navigator feels about as limber as you do after 20 minutes of walking on the treadmill.

Along with its higher fitness level, this Lincoln offers an adult-size third-row seat for your growing family and the privacy of a cabin that would seem to be dressed well enough for this price bracket — if indeed anything can justify our test truck's $60,000 sticker price. Our first meeting with the '03 Navigator yielded favorable impressions, but since then, we've spent a week going over a four-wheel-drive Ultimate model loaded with every option, except the rear entertainment system ($1,295) and the tire-pressure monitoring system (delayed availability). Certainly this vehicle has enough luxury features to excite prospective buyers who are ready to step up from the Ford Expedition, but is it enough to draw the attention of those who crave the power of the Cadillac Escalade or the refinement of the Lexus LX 470? It depends on their priorities.

As before, your decision to drive a Navigator definitely has something to do with your perception of style and your comfort in social situations. You might be able to blend into the crowd in an Expedition or Land Cruiser, but not in the Lincoln. Apparently sensing a warm reception for the Escalade's sharp angles and oversized front fascia, Lincoln's design staff was moved to give the sheetmetal subtly crisper creases and edges and enlarge the previous Navigator's headlights, taillights and already toothy grille. Chrome-finish pull handles on the doors and 18-inch wheels (also with a chrome finish on our test vehicle) complete the revised look. While perhaps not as ostentatious as the Escalade, the Navigator is nonetheless an aggressive display of privilege.

What may sell you on the styling — or strengthen your passion for it — are the much improved ride and handling characteristics that resulted from Lincoln's (and Ford's) switch to a stiffer frame, a fully independent suspension (in place of the old independent front/solid axle rear) and rack-and-pinion steering. The '03 Navigator employs a short/long-arm suspension design with stabilizer bars in front and rear — and, in lieu of the old truck's front torsion bars (coil springs on 4x2 models) and twin-tube shock absorbers, a self-leveling air spring and monotube damper now reside at all four corners. The use of an independent rear, along with a number of aluminum suspension parts, cuts down on unsprung weight — which made it easier for engineers to give the SUV a controlled ride without compromising on the plushness that luxury buyers seek.

Thusly equipped, our test Navigator consistently delivered a smooth, comfortable ride that shielded us from the imperfections of the world below without making us feel too disconnected from it. Road undulations no longer result in excessive wallow, and the Navigator feels planted to the road. Occasionally, the meaty 275/65R18 Michelin Pilot LTX M/S tires encountered broken pavement and offroad ruts that the suspension couldn't filter out, which made the ride somewhat bouncy — but not excessively so for a truck-based vehicle. Compared with the old Navigator, this one rides like a luxury car.

Whereas the previous recirculating-ball steering didn't apportion power assist especially well (too much play in a straight line and too much effort required when turning) and was nearly devoid of road feedback, the new rack-and-pinion setup responds quickly to driver input and offers progressive amounts of assist with such fluidity that we knew what was going on with the 18-inch tires at all times. Effort levels are light at low speeds — this, along with a relatively tidy 38.7-foot turning radius (best in the class), makes the 6,000-pound Navigator easy to park. At higher speeds, the wheel provides more heft and feels secure in the driver's hands, such that continual correction isn't necessary to keep from drifting on multi-lane freeways.

Though curvy two-lane roads aren't the preferred habitat of any fullsize SUV, the Navigator is certainly equipped to deal with them should your travel plans dictate. Even when moving at a brisk clip, the Lincoln demonstrated admirable balance, with predictable amounts of body roll. Standard on Navigator Premium and Ultimate models (and optional for Luxury trim) is the excellent Advance Trac stability control system, which uses a light hand to keep the truck in its intended path.

The previous Navigator didn't have the most reassuring braking performance, and Lincoln has responded by fitting the revised version with larger rotors all-around and twin-piston calipers in front. Besides ABS, the sport-ute now comes with the current luxury standards — Electronic Brake Distribution and a panic assist feature (which supplements braking force in emergency situations). With all these upgrades, our test vehicle's brake pedal was still somewhat squishy but nonetheless provided linear action and decent stopping distances in everyday traffic. We did observe some nose dive, which wasn't unexpected given the softly tuned suspension. During performance testing, the Navigator hauled down from 60 mph in 127 feet — excellent for a heavyweight.

Despite the arrival of an '02 Escalade packing 345 horsepower and 388 pound-feet of torque, Lincoln decided to stick with the previous Navigator's powertrain — a 32-valve 5.4-liter V8 that makes 300 hp at 5,000 rpm and 355 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm paired with a four-speed automatic. There are a few small changes, though. The Navigator now qualifies as an ultra low emissions vehicle under California rules, though you'll need to fill it with 91 octane. Additionally, fuel tank capacity has been reduced to 28 gallons (from 30), while the truck's fuel economy rating remains 12 mpg in the city and 16 on the highway (12 and 17 for 4x2s). This should give you a good idea of how often you'll be stopping at the gas station and how much you'll be spending — our test vehicle averaged only 11 mpg.

The Navigator doesn't explode away from stoplights, but there is certainly adequate off-the-line thrust and mid-range passing power to allow owners to get around with ease. With a half-dozen occupants and their luggage onboard, acceleration on steep grades is likely to be somewhat less comfortable in the Lincoln than in the Cadillac, but still acceptable. At the track, our test truck reached 60 mph in 9.9 seconds and went through the quarter-mile in 17.4 at 80.5 mph; this is quite a bit slower than a 1999 Navigator we timed at 8.7 and 16.6 seconds respectively — we attribute this to the new model's extra 250 pounds of curb weight and subtle differences in our testing. The Navigator is rated to carry payloads of up to 1,410 pounds and can tow up to 8,500 pounds in 2WD form (formerly the 4x2 was rated at 8,800 pounds) and 8,300 pounds in 4WD form — these trailering capacities are slightly above those of the AWD Escalade.

Even though Navigator buyers won't be getting more power, they will enjoy the substantial reduction in cabin noise in the '03 model. The stiffer frame and independent rear suspension help out here, as changes in wheel attitude over expansion joints and when cornering are less likely to result in shuddering and clattering within the cabin. In addition, new engine and transmission mounts result in quieter power delivery (though the V8 still gets noisy when it's working hard). While unable to recreate the silence of the LX 470's cabin, the Navigator is now mostly serene on the highway, save for the hum of its 18-inch tires.

While most prospective owners probably don't envision taking offroad adventures in a Navigator wearing street-biased tires, our test truck's electronic Control Trac four-wheel-drive system — which includes 2 Hi, Auto 4, 4 Hi and 4 Lo settings — and decent ground clearance (8.6 inches) didn't rule out that possibility. Just to satisfy ourselves that it could stand up to weekend recreation, we took it on an offroad trail that leads to various campsites and hiking trails. It was nothing too challenging, but the Navigator handled well, and, in automatic mode, the 4WD system was quick to respond to slippage at the rear wheels (if necessary, 100 percent of the engine's power could have been routed to the front axle). The only annoyance we encountered had to do with the Lincoln's size — even on modest inclines, the sheer height of its hood made it tricky to place on the trail. Luxury SUV buyers who plan to go off-road frequently should check out the more rugged LX 470, '03 Land Rover Range Rover or Mercedes-Benz G500, all of which offer better ground clearance and approach/departure angles.

Stepping inside the '03 Navigator was initially as refreshing as stepping into a Lexus. Whereas the previous Navigator embraced the aesthetics of a fullsize van, Lincoln put more effort and money into this one. The result is a crisp ensemble that coordinates with the exterior's edges and creases. Included are a dual-cowl dash and a center console that appears to flow into it; soft-touch material on the dash and door panels; stylishly ribbed leather captain's chairs in the first and second rows; an electroluminescent gauge cluster and a fair amount of real walnut and faux titanium. The latter material is used exclusively for the center stack controls, which are of the carefully arranged, flat button variety found in many Lexus models today. Nestled in the top of the stack is an analog clock similar to those found in most Infiniti sedans.

Our initial impressions didn't hold up completely over the course of a week, however, as the execution of this design doesn't quite meet Lexus standards. Examples? The soft-touch interior paneling gives way to cheap, glossy plastic once you reach the third row. Controls that looked nice from a distance often lacked the refinement expected in a luxury vehicle when we actually used them — the rear climate control dials creaked when turned; the Lincoln-embossed door that hides away the nav screen was flimsy and difficult to pull down manually (it wouldn't slide down on its own). And there were odd little shortcuts: For a vehicle that has air-conditioned front seats, a power-operated liftgate, power-folding third-row seats and running boards that automatically retract when the doors close, is it too much to ask for an auto-down front passenger window?

We also noted a number of build-quality issues — numerous ill-fitting trim pieces and poorly finished plastics — but since our test vehicle was a pre-production model, many of these problems may be corrected in the models that arrive at dealerships. We would still encourage you to give your prospective Navigator a thorough going-over before driving off the lot.

In terms of ease of use, the controls are hit-and-miss. The tri-zone automatic climate control system is very well-organized and includes helpful features like a "dual" button, so that you only have to deal with dual front temperature settings when there's actually another person in the vehicle, and redundant second-row controls for the rear zone. The stereo controls, on the other hand, were often confusing — some of them are bundled with the optional navigation system, some of them aren't and some of them, including the bass/treble adjustments, are both (the adjustments are part of the nav interface, but if you don't hit the tiny non-illuminated "menu" button, you'll never get to the right screen). (Peruse our thoughtfully written stereo evaluation for more on the sound system.) Additionally, the antiquated CD-based nav system precludes the in-dash CD changer that ordinarily comes standard (our test vehicle's was instead located in the front-passenger footwell). Yet for all these knocks against it, as well as a rather dull interface, the nav system delivered accurate driving directions both times we used it.

The steering wheel houses an attractive set of cruise buttons and several stereo and climate functions (volume, temperature and the like). While all of the buttons are illuminated at night, they're never easy to use due to a lack of finger detents and spacing. The single set of console-mounted window buttons is also attractive, but since only the driver window is one-touch up/down and the space between them is extra wide, it's a two-step process to get both front windows down. The rest of the controls were easy to use, especially the overhead sunroof and power liftgate controls, but one editor bristled at the combined wiper/turn signal stalk. Also, just because Lincoln has moved to a more stylish console-mounted shifter (the '03 Expedition keeps the column shifter) didn't mean we wanted to give up the convenience of a gear display in the gauge cluster. Additionally, the overdrive on/off button is oddly positioned on the back of the shifter.

In spite of these rough edges, the Navigator should not be written off as a purveyor of luxury — if you have money to spend and five or so family members (or friends) who regularly accompany you on long trips, you should know that this is easily the most comfortable SUV for six to seven passengers on the market today. The three-passenger third-row bench is the reason, as the adoption of the independent rear suspension in the '03 model allows for an elevated theater-style bench and opens up an unprecedented amount of legroom — enough so that two adults (or three children) really could sit here without complaint on a long trip. However, we did find that the power liftgate mechanicals (standard on the Ultimate) consume much of the available headroom (and impede rearward visibility) — so if you need the extra space, consider going with Luxury or Premium trim, neither of which has the power liftgate. An adjustable headrest and three-point belt is provided in all three third-row seating positions.

Our test vehicle had the standard second-row captain's chairs; a 40/20/40-split bench with fore/aft movement for the center section (for the benefit of those with an infant) is a no-cost option. The captain's chairs unfortunately do not slide fore/aft — while legroom is decent for adults sitting here, there isn't much toe room. Short bottom cushions somewhat exacerbate this problem, as a splayed seating position robs taller adults of thigh support. Otherwise, the second-row accommodations are pleasant, as each occupant gets a soft back cushion with manual recline, a height-adjustable seatbelt, an adjustable headrest and a reading light. A gigantic center console container — with a padded top for arms — is ready to swallow whatever snacks and toys your passengers require. A pull-out drawer has slots for DVD cases should you opt for the rear entertainment system.

Each second-row chair can fold and flip out of the way so that people can seat themselves in the third row. The release levers are a bit fussy, though, and those who don't have much upper-body strength may need both hands for this procedure — it was especially difficult for occupants to liberate themselves when seated in the third row. On the plus side, pressurized shocks allow the chairs to fold back into place gradually, lessening the chance of crushed fingers and toes.

We used the seatbelt to install a large child seat in one of the second-row captain's chairs and were pleased with the tight fit that the locking retractor allowed — the seat didn't slide around at all. Note that both captain's chairs include upper and lower anchor points for new seats with tethers. The arrangement isn't ideal, though, as the upper anchor point is on the backside of each chair way down at the bottom — higher-mounted anchors would require less bending and twisting to secure the upper tether strap. Also, those who are going install seats in the third row will have to rely on the seatbelts to secure them — there is only one upper anchor point, and there are no lower anchors.

The front seats remain the best seats in the cabin. A full set of power adjustments — including power lumbar, adjustable pedals, articulating headrests, available seat heating and ventilation, and a good dose of American-style cushioning — allowed every editor to find the right driving position. As in the second row, both occupants benefit from a large padded center console container top, which provides a comfortable respite for elbows and CDs alike. We did have a couple of small complaints — the seats don't provide much contouring or firm support (which leads to fatigue on long drives), and although the bottom cushions were relatively broad, poor placement of the large, expandable front door bins intruded upon hip space for one larger editor.

Running boards are standard on all Navigators, and ours had the Ultimate's optional power retractable set. These give the truck a cleaner look with the doors closed and protect the boards from damage. Still, we'd skip this option — since the running boards retract, you can't stand on them to secure loads on the roof rack without opening one of the doors. Also, getting in and out of this SUV isn't a problem. In fact, given that the air springs allow every Navigator to "kneel" an inch in Park, even average-size adults will find the running boards unnecessary (and often an annoyance, as they're likely to soil your pant legs).

Visibility from the driver seat is significantly improved in the '03 model, as the side mirrors are now larger with a more useful rectangular shape. The reverse-sensing system is now standard on all Navigators, and it works wonderfully in parking lots by providing a progressive series of beeps as you approach another vehicle or human being. This is a good thing because with the power liftgate and adjustable headrests, our test vehicle's rear windshield was useless to see out of when backing up. The side mirrors also help by tilting downward in reverse gear.

In the wake of rollover concerns, Lincoln has equipped every Navigator with the Safety Canopy system, which provides side-curtain airbags for first- and second-row passengers. In the event of a side impact, these cover 65 percent of the window area. If the system senses an imminent rollover, the bags deploy and remain inflated for up to 6 seconds.

The Navigator Ultimate is designed to make its owners feel pampered on shopping trips. There's no need to open the liftgate yourself, as a tap on the remote or the overhead button in the front seat will actuate its one-touch open and close feature, albeit with a groan from the struts. As the cargo bay is only 15 inches deep with the third-row seats in use (17.9 cubic feet of capacity), you'll need to fold down one or both of its 60/40 sections if you have more than four bags of groceries to load. This is easily accomplished in the Ultimate, as a pair of buttons in the cargo bay (there's another set in the second row) allows you to raise or lower either side with a single touch. Once folded, you get a flat load surface 48 inches in depth and 54.6 cubic feet total load volume. For really large hauling tasks, you can also fold the second-row chairs flat, though there are gaps between the two rows. As before, the large center console is non-removable (all the more reason to get the 40/20/40 bench option), but you'll still have 83 inches of load depth (and 104 cubic feet) for items that can straddle the console.

After living with the Navigator for a week, we concluded that due to its colossal size, it's still not the most user-friendly hauler for smaller adults. For starters, when you're loading heavy bags at the airport, you've got to hoist them about 32 inches to get them into the cargo bay — for comparison, that's about a foot higher than the average station wagon's lift-over height. And if you're going to make use of the liftgate's separate rear lift glass, you'll have to lift that heavy grocery bag 51 inches (though this opening will allow you to carry the occasional excessively long object). Finally, after examining every inch of the cargo bay, we found neither grocery bag hooks nor cargo tie-downs.

Besides the giant-size center console containers and front door bins, storage areas consist of a small felt-lined glovebox, small second-row door bins, and a few small trays and shelves in the third row. Cupholders are numerous — two in the front, four in the second row and three in the third row — but none of them offer a ratcheting function for the ultimate in beverage containment.

Obviously, the '03 Navigator is not the perfect luxury SUV — it could be more powerful; it isn't very fuel-efficient; it doesn't feel as luxurious as a Lexus, just to name a few of its faults. But for the fearless moneyed buyer who requires an agile large-capacity SUV with comfortable accommodations for six, we'd recommend a test drive.

Stereo Evaluation

System Score: 6

Components: Having listened to and enjoyed many Lincoln stereos in the past, we approached the newly redesigned 2003 Lincoln Navigator with high hopes. After all, we reasoned, if the stereos we listened to three years ago were any indication, surely this latest and greatest offering from Lincoln would set our ears to smiling. Wrong. As far as the stereo goes, the new Lincoln Navigator is a major disappointment. Using a mish-mash of old technology and new, and with some downright bizarre design decisions, this system is a curious blend of hits and misses.

The vehicle we evaluated had a built-in navigation system, so most of the audio controls were routed through the on-board nav display. And here we found our first discouragement, for the nav system in the brand-new 2003 Lincoln Navigator is a CD-ROM-based system. (The current state-of-the-art is a DVD-based system manufactured by Alpine and others and available from many manufacturers.)

As for the stereo itself, more misses followed. Speaker placement is poor, with identical 6.5-inch co-ax drivers mounted midway up the panel in all four doors. No separate tweeters in a vehicle this expensive is a major puzzlement. Luckily, the speaker setup is somewhat redeemed by an 8-inch subwoofer in the driver-side rear quarter-panel.

Things get a little better on the electronics side of the equation, but not much. Thankfully, the Lincoln folks have gone with a traditional LCD display, meaning a non-touchscreen approach. We prefer this kind of design, as touchscreens are often cumbersome and occasionally even unsafe to use. So kudos for that. Still, we found the interface clunky to use. For instance, when using various settings, the display returns to the main screen after several seconds, and you must reroute through unwanted functions to return to the screen you want. Very annoying. Also, steering wheel controls are kept to a bare minimum (volume and memory only, instead of the usual seek/scan and mode switches found in other vehicles in this class), because two of the positions on the steering wheel are occupied by climate controls. Lastly, the cartridge door for the six-disc CD changer is located on the passenger side of the center console, facing away from the driver, down near where the passenger's feet would go, requiring a death-defying maneuver to access while driving. Don't try this at home, kids.

Performance: This is a very good sounding system. Not as loud as some we've heard from GM and Chrysler, but with much to recommend it. Bass response is tight and fairly deep, mids have good detail and intricacy, and highs exhibit warmth and a welcome lack of coloration. However, we have a problem with the speaker positioning. When the vehicle is fully occupied, the legs of the occupants will block the speakers, and with no separate tweeters to distribute highs, sound clarity is compromised.

Best Feature: Separate 8-inch woofers.

Worst Feature: Where do we begin? OK — no separate tweeters.

Conclusion: If you can live with the design and ergonomic miscues, the sound of this system will redeem itself. Still, we found the annoyances and oversights too numerous to live with. Perhaps you're more tolerant than we. — Scott Memmer

Second Opinions

Editor-in-Chief Karl Brauer says:
Hop into the 2003 Navigator and your first impression will likely be "Wow. Lincoln has definitely turned things up in the luxury SUV market. Lexus might actually have something to worry about here." The plush leather, the ornate styling and the slick panel that covers the radio appear to be ripped right out of the SC 430. Dig a little deeper and, well, the first impression holds up…mostly.

For instance, I love the seat heater/cooler controls that actually light up red/blue when activated, and the whisper-soft operation of the power windows as they move up and down is proof that Ford is starting to understand what makes a luxury vehicle truly feel like a luxury vehicle. But when I pull the radio cover down (which, by the way, I shouldn't be pulling down; I should be hitting a button that makes it elegantly slide down), the cover plate doesn't sit exactly flush with the surrounding panels (never seen that on a Lexus). And while the power rear hatch theoretically helps bolster the image of success for the Navigator's driver, the dentist's-drill sound it makes while in operation most certainly does not.

The Navigator's driving dynamics, as monstrous SUVs go, are far more user-friendly than the previous version. Body lean is well controlled, and ride quality is soft without being floaty. I'd like to see slightly less play in the steering wheel when traveling in a straight line, and tire noise at highway speeds seems excessive for a luxury vehicle, even one based on a truck. Finally, as a 3-ton conveyance, I don't expect the Navigator to be quick, and it's not. Unfortunately for Lincoln, many of today's premium shoppers want their SUVs big, loaded with toys and quick. These folks will likely find the Navigator a tad sluggish.

Two years ago, this vehicle could have ruled the luxury SUV segment. But there's an all-new, more powerful Escalade and a nimble, highly refined MDX (that costs less) already in showrooms. And Lexus will soon release the sporty GX 470. The new Navigator may come in an "Ultimate" trim, but the "ultimate" premium SUV? Probably not.

Road Test Editor Liz Kim says:
Golly, but this thing has a lot of gizmos, I thought to myself as I poked and prodded various buttons and controls that sent some mechanical gadget or another whirring and spinning. With power-deploying running boards, power liftgate, nav system and ventilated seats, the '03 Navigator is a Sharper Image junkie's dream come true. I know that I'm a minority in the Edmunds.com crowd, but I'm drawn to its gleaming chrome grille, finding it somewhat reminiscent of Pennywise the Clown's mandibles in It. And its long list of improvements for the 2003 year, should help expand the vehicle's audience beyond those whose residences are featured on MTV's Cribs. With a vastly enhanced steering rack and ride quality, I think that the Navigator will be less a butt of jokes about conspicuous consumption and more a serious contender in the luxury sport-ute arena.

However, it could still go quite a ways in impressing those with high standards. While the material comprising the facade of the dashboard looks cool, it feels the same as the flimsy plastic stuff that graces econo-sedans costing less than $20,000. While its cabin seems more refined than that of the previous Navigator, it still has a long way to go to catch up to some of the premium offerings by import brands. But hey, you don't see many of those other luxo-utes being stretched to limousine hormone-riddled teenagers to their senior prom, do you?

Senior Road Test Editor Brent Romans says:
This is a Lincoln? After driving the new Navigator, I came away impressed by its premium feel. The old Navigator just felt like a gussied-up Ford to me, and I see little reason to splurge for a GMC Yukon XL when a Chevy Suburban is pretty much the same thing. Yet the new Navigator seems worth the extra money. The interior is the most upscale I've yet encountered in a domestic SUV. I was particularly impressed by how there were no buttons or switches that were identifiable as being from other Ford products. This new SUV also drives considerably better than it did before. The steering is quick and responsive, and the ride quality is improved thanks to the independent rear suspension. The only thing that would give me pause would be long-term reliability. Ford has had a number of recent quality problems, and here comes the Navigator with a very large percentage of new parts, components and features. While watching our Ultimate test vehicle's power-operated running boards, liftgate and seats move back and forth, I couldn't help but wonder how long it would be before something broke. Now I'm sure Lincoln has done a good amount of durability testing on its new truck, but that wouldn't stop me from worrying. If I were buying a new Navigator, I'd stick with the Luxury trim and avoid most of the power stuff.

Senior Editor Chris Wardlaw says:
Looking at the advertisements for the redesigned Lincoln Navigator, one might reasonably expect brushed aluminum trim to be covering the decidedly retro dashboard. Wow, one might think. They've really upgraded the Navigator this year. The cabin no longer looks like a Ford F-150 pickup in drag. But then you get inside a real Navigator to find silver plastic trim with a pebbled, rather than brushed, appearance. Now one thinks: This cheap trim looks like the same stuff you find in a Toyota Celica.

Not the impression Lincoln wishes to impart with its new $50,000 baby, but given the profit margin on this vehicle, you'd think the company could have come up with something substantial. And the news for 2004 isn't good. The bean counters at Ford want to replace the real wood trim in the 2003 Navigator with fake stuff for 2004.

At least they saw fit to fund an independent rear suspension for this luxury SUV. The Navigator rides much better now, thank you, and offers surprising levels of steering feel and responsiveness, as well. Gone is the feeling that you're piloting a rig a size too big. The new Nav feels just right from the driver seat, and some passersby thought it looked smaller on the outside than the original.

The truck I drove was loaded with power conveniences: folding mirrors, folding third-row seat, power-opening tailgate and retractable running boards. Even had a navigation system. But you know what I really wanted? A DVD entertainment system for my two kids to watch during a road trip. Why a $50,000 luxury SUV doesn't have one is beyond my comprehension.

Lincoln has improved the Navigator in every way. But I still fail to see much point in selecting this over a fully loaded Ford Expedition. The only justification, in my opinion, is the Linc's 300-horse V8 engine.

Consumer Commentary

Beautiful automobile. Turned in a 98 Nav. No comparison. The new one drives like a car, not a truck. Feels solid and powerful. Favorite Features: fold down third seat which has normal leg room. interior is the selling feature and oozes glamour. Redesigned headlights. power folding mirrors and rear sensors. Suggested Improvements: Drivers seat could go back further for more leg room. Can't see the clock. Little and big hand look the same. Miss the digital clock, but can live with it. — fall in love, by 2nd Navigator, June 5, 2002

Class act for a redesigned vehicle. The interior design and control functions are at a fingers reach. As a realtor, this SUV fulfills all my needs. Favorite Features: The electric steps and tailgate are fantastic options. The new dash and console and shift lever are a great improvement. This is definitely the best SUV on the market today. — king of the road, by jim mullenix, May 3, 2002

great car it is fun to drive and very responsive. I was surprised how well it handles on curves - really tracks - kept up with a bmw on a very winding road with out a problem. — Lincoln owner, by David Lloyd, May 31, 2002

The new Navigator is the best SUV on the market it not only has the best exterior and interior but also has the best ride too. Favorite Features: Interior, Exterior, Comfortable Features, Everything. Suggested Improvements: Maybe just a little more power. — Excellent SUV, by Charlton03, May 2, 2002

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