You’ve got a growing family, a penchant to get out there once in a while, an appreciation of style and comfort, and an income to indulge your passions. Perhaps you’re accustomed to driving an economical sedan such as the Focus, or even a mid-size SUV such as the Ford Escape, and thinking it’s time to step-up into a three-row. One such option is the Lincoln Navigator Reserve L (for extended), although at first glance, your initial reaction may be, “Whoa.”
Looks impressive. But is it driveable?
This three-row behemoth is so large, you could wonder whether a truck driver’s licence is required by law to be behind the wheel. The SUV dwarfs a Ford Mustang, a car emanating from the same automotive company and yes, another era. This is the era of the SUV.
Lincoln grabbed the spotlight three years ago at the New York auto show by introducing the Navigator concept with gullwing doors, although at the time, Kumar Galhotra, then Lincoln brand president, now Ford North American president, said “we don’t stand for aggressive. ... Lincoln has a very clear heritage of elegance."
Thus, the gullwings disappeared from the production vehicle and true enough, the Navigator Reserve handles the road with the smoothness of a Cuban cigar matched with single-malt scotch after a hectic day at the bank. Its 22-inch aluminum wheels take bumps and ruts as though absorbing water with a sponge, and the dexterity, while polar opposite from a Mini’s on a mountainous s-curve due to its size, is still surprising given the size. You don’t really feel its girth – that is, until manoeuvering into an underground lot parking space and then, “active park assist” helps with that.
Equipped with a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6, the Navigator has the power and accompanying technology to haul boats and trailers. For such work, the sort of driver-assist features typically on top-tier F-150s are displayed on the speedometer monitor. They include hill descent, trailer sway control, trailer blind spot and cross traffic alert. So you’re driving, and kind of playing a video game simultaneously.
This vehicle isn’t built to save the environment. Mileage is rated at 15 litres/100 km in the city, 11.4 on the highway when not pulling or loading things. In a week’s time, we got a little better in the city, slightly less on the highway.
There are more than 25 luxury SUVs on the market. Why this one? Starting a few dollars under $100,000 before tax (or $2,057 monthly on a two-year lease, zero down) and competing with the Cadillac Escalade primarily, the Navigator Reserve’s interior is the primary draw. When my daughter first stepped inside, she asked, “Is this a limousine?”
Begin with the power, illuminated running boards to body-hoist into the high driver’s position. Need to wind down before entering the house and dealing with the chattering kids, after a mad commute? A Revel sound system employs 20 speakers. Park in the driveway (or better, a nearby park/pub/seaside perch), roll up the windows, put on some Sarah McLachlan. Lincoln colours are Rocky Mountain earthy, and the soft, rec-room comfortable, individually heated leather seats can be adjusted 24 different ways and yes, they massage. Ahh. The 10-inch touchscreen fronts a console that’s more like an arm table, with room for laptops.
Two captain’s chairs and the third-row seats fold electronically, using a panel inside the back rear door. There’s space enough in this version for seven guys and in the rear, everyone’s set of golf clubs.
The driver’s assist tech includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, head-up display, lane-keeping assist and alert, driver alert, precollision assist and pedestrian detection. In the future, we may or may not have autonomous cars. Let go of the steering wheel for a few long seconds, and you’ll get a taste of that experience.
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