The Lincoln Navigator is a full-size luxury SUV built by the Ford Motor Company for its luxury division, Lincoln. Lincoln introduced the Navigator in August 1997 as a 1998 model, the same year as the redesigned Lexus LX. The Navigator was Lincoln's first SUV as well as its first four-wheel drive capable vehicle. The Navigator shares a platform, mechanical features, and other equipment with the Ford Expedition, which was introduced one year before it. Unique and upscale styling, interior materials, and other features differ the Navigator from the Expedition. Given its platform mate, the Navigator is the largest vehicle Lincoln currently offers, having the greatest cargo capacity and seating for seven to eight people, depending on the model. For 2007, a longer, extended wheelbase version of the Navigator called the Navigator L was introduced, increasing cargo capacity further. Since its introduction, Lincoln has offered only one engine choice at a time in the Navigator in any model year; all are variations of Ford's 5.4L Modular V8.
In spite of a base manufacturer's suggested retail price of over $42,000 in 1998, the Navigator proved to be popular with nearly 44,000 sold in its first year. Competitors from General Motors like the Cadillac Escalade and the GMC Denali Series quickly followed to cash in on Lincoln's success with the Navigator. Much like the Cadillac Escalade would do, the Navigator found a niche with celebrities and the customized SUV scene.
For 2008 and newer vehicles, the EPA issued a new measurement standard for fuel efficiency to reflect more realistic consumption numbers. Under this new standard, a two-wheel drive 2008 Navigator achieves fuel efficiency ratings of 12miles per US gallon (20L/100km; 14mpg-imp) in city driving and 18miles per US gallon (13L/100km; 22mpg-imp) on the highway. Ratings for other model year Navigators, if not the same, are similar, differing by one to two miles per gallon.
The 1998 Navigator was introduced in August 1997 as Lincoln's first sport utility vehicle (SUV) with seating for up to eight people. The Navigator was based directly on the Ford Expedition, which was introduced the year before, but was positioned to be a new luxury choice in the then-growing full-size SUV market segment, with more features and an upscale design. Though the Navigator's exterior bears resemblance to its Expedition cousin at a glance, it differs in a number of ways, including different front and rear fascias with unique headlights and taillights, a chrome "waterfall" style grille, a unique hood, different style wheels, unique wheel arches, a different roof rack, and different door handles. Inside, the Navigator's humble truck roots could be more easily spotted as it had the same dashboard layout as the Expedition and F-150. However, the Navigator's interior featured upscale additions including standard leather seating surfaces, fine wood inserts, extensive carpeting, and greater sound deadening.
In terms of other features, Navigators were equipped with things such as dual front-side airbags, four wheel anti-lock disc brakes, a four-speaker premium audio system with AM/FM-cassette radio, automatic climate control, a wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel with redundant audio and climate controls, "captain's chair" front bucket seating, power driver and passenger seats, first- and second-row floor consoles, an overhead console (with map lighting and electronic information displays), power windows, power door locks, power heated mirrors, remote keyless entry, illuminated running boards, automatic headlights, foglights, and 16-inch alloy wheels. Upscale options included a power moonroof, a universal garage door opener, an electrochromic rearview mirror (which filters out headlight glare from other vehicles behind the Navigator), a seven speaker, 290-Watt audio system with a six-disc front console-mounted CD-changer, rear seat audio controls, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Underneath its luxury appointments, the Navigator was mechanically similar to the Expedition. Both were full-size, rear-wheel drive body-on-frame SUVs with a short-long arm (SLA) independent front suspension and live axle rear suspension. The Navigator differed slightly compared to the Expedition featuring a load-leveling air suspension with tuning for enhanced ride comfort. Two-wheel drive was standard in the Navigator with Ford's Control Trac four-wheel drive system with high and low gearing available. The Navigator initially shared the same 5.4L SOHC V8 as the Expedition, which made 230hp (172kW) @ 4250rpm and 325lb·ft (440N·m) of torque @ 3000rpm. Likewise, the Navigator shared the same 4R100 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive as the Expedition. The rear axle ratio of the Navigator, whether it was two-wheel or four-wheel drive, was 3.73:1. With a base curb weight of well over 5000lbs, the Navigator wasn't particularly fast off the line. A four-wheel drive model tested by Motor Trend magazine that weighed in at 5557lbs could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 10.3 seconds and complete a quarter mile in 17.7 seconds at 78.7 mph. However, the same Navigator came with a useful towing capacity of 7700lbs.
In its first calendar year of sales (1998), Navigator contributed to an unprecedented event of recent decades - the overtaking by the Lincoln brand of perennial rival Cadillac in annual sales volume. Initially, published figures indicated that Cadillac had outsold Lincoln by a scant 222 vehicles sold, thanks to an enormous surge in Escalade's monthly sales in December, from hundreds in previous months to almost 5,000. A subsequent audit resulted in a retraction/apology in May 1999, attributing the "error" to "overzealous" low-level employees.
Upgrades came to the Navigator after only one model year in the interest of refining the vehicle and keeping it competitive. The 1999 Navigator initially came with the same 5.4L SOHC V8 used previously, though it was revised to produce 260hp (194kW) @ 4500rpm and 345lb·ft (467N·m) of torque @ 2300rpm. Arriving later in the same model year replacing this engine was a new 5.4L DOHC V8 that produced 300hp (224kW) @ 5000rpm and 355lb·ft (481N·m) of torque @ 2750rpm. The new DOHC V8 was marketed under the name InTech, making it the second Lincoln engine, after the 4.6L DOHC V8 of the Lincoln Mark VIII, to use this name. The rest of the Navigator's powertrain, including the transmission and rear axle, remained largely unchanged. Thanks to the new InTech V8, zero to 60 mph acceleration times were cut to the mid-eight second range and towing capacity increased to over 8500lbs. Elsewhere in the Navigator, power adjustable brake and accelerator pedals became available for 1999 and 17-inch alloy wheels were now standard. In 2000, the Navigator's options list expanded to include a satellite navigation system, heated and cooled front seats, a reverse-sensing system, and side-impact airbags. Also in 2000, softer, Nudo leather replaced the previous leather used in the Navigator and the radio antenna of the Navigator was removed from the front passenger-side fender and integrated into the rear passenger-side quarter panel window. For 2001, a rear-seat, VHS-based video entertainment system became available. In a minor change, the back coloring of the "four-point star" logo, the symbol of Lincoln, changed from red to black on 2001 and newer Navigators. The Navigator was carried over unchanged for 2002 as a redesigned Navigator was planned for 2003.
For 2003, a number of changes and improvements were made to the Navigator thanks to a thorough redesign. The Navigator continued to share a platform with the Ford Expedition, which was also redesigned for 2003, but continued to differ from it in terms of styling and various upscale features. The 2003 redesign featured a thoroughly revised exterior, the first since the Navigator's launch, with only the front doors and roof panel unchanged from the previous generation. The new exterior came with things such as a larger chrome waterfall grille, brighter quad-beam headlights with larger housings, revised chrome door handles set in color-keyed bezels, and slightly wider running boards. Inside the Navigator was an all-new instrument panel and dashboard area which, significantly, was not shared with the Expedition. Inspired by the symmetrical, "dual-cockpit" layout of the 1961 Lincoln Continental, the instrument panel and dashboard area was adorned with real walnut burl wood inserts and panels and switches painted with a low-luster satin nickel color. Adding to the upscale interior design further were white LEDs, 120 in all, which provided backlighting for controls and switches. Additionally, to direct attention to the high-quality satin nickel-faced analog clock mounted in the dashboard, an articulating door is present to conceal the radio head unit and optional satellite navigation system when they are not in use.
Highlighting the Navigator's design changes were other new features and options for 2003. Newly available features like Ford's Safety Canopy side curtain airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system improved occupant safety. Convenience was enhanced by the availability of power running boards (an industry first), power-folding third row seats, a power liftgate, and HID headlights (for top end models). The available rear-seat video entertainment system was updated to be DVD-based and all Navigators now came with standard 18x7.5-inch alloy wheels with 18x8-inch chrome wheels available as an option.
Like the redesigned 2003 Expedition, the Navigator benefitted from a reworked chassis, new rack-and-pinion steering, and an all-new independent rear suspension (IRS), which brought better handling and ride comfort. The Navigator continued to benefit from a load-leveling air suspension but it now lowered the vehicle by an inch when stopped in the interest of easing entry and exit. The Navigator's powertrain remained unchanged from 2002, but the 5.4L DOHC V8 used before was no longer advertised under the InTech name. Due to changes brought with the redesign, the Navigator's base curb weight increased to 5760lbs in two-wheel drive models and nearly 6000lbs in four-wheel drive models. In turn, towing capacity dropped slightly.
Tire-pressure monitoring was made standard for 2004 while Ford's AdvanceTrac, a type of traction control system, with Roll Stability Control was an option. In 2005 the Navigator received a minor facelift with new square-shaped foglights replacing the circular ones used previously. AdvanceTrac with RSC was now standard while HID headlights were available on all models. In the interest of cost effectiveness, the 5.4L DOHC V8 introduced in the 1999 model year was replaced by the same 5.4L 3-valve SOHC V8 that's been available in the F-150 since the 2004 model year. Though having a different head design, the new engine offered similar overall output, producing 300hp (224kW) @ 5000rpm and 365lb·ft (494N·m) of torque @ 3750rpm. On a side note, the new engine was not marketed under the Triton name in the Navigator even though it is mechanically identical to the F-150's engine. The venerable 4R100 4-speed automatic transmission used in earlier Navigators was replaced with a new ZF Friedrichshafen AG-sourced 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2005 Navigator's base curb weight fell to 5555lbs while four-wheel drive models dropped to 5842lbs. Towing capacity increased slightly over the previous model year to 8600lbs in two-wheel drive models and 8300lbs in four-wheel drive models. For 2006, an Elite package for the Ultimate trim level was made available, including a DVD-based satellite navigation system with a voice-activated touch screen, THX audio system, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and HID headlights.
The Navigator was redesigned with new styling and mechanical features for 2007. Unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2006, the Navigator featured its most distinctive styling update since its introduction with new front and rear fascias and side cladding. In the front was a large, upper chrome grille resembling those of classic Lincolns like the 1961 Continental, an all-new, more complex headlight design, a lower chrome grille with integrated foglights, and a more prominent "power dome" hood. Elsewhere, an updated rear fascia featured taillights inspired by the Lincoln MKZ and chrome trim was more prominently used along the Navigator's sides, including chrome lower body molding on the doors. The distinctiveness of the Navigator's exterior followed into the interior, highlighted by an all-new dashboard and instrument panel. These areas saw an extensive use of rectangular shapes, such as in the gauges, as well as greater use of real wood and satin nickel accents.
Accompanying the Navigator's redesign for 2007 was a new model, the Navigator L. Comparable to the Cadillac Escalade ESV, the Navigator L is 14.7 inches longer than the standard Navigator on a 12 inch longer wheel base, increasing its cargo capacity. The Navigator L was introduced parallel to the Expedition EL, an extended version of the Ford Expedition. Both the Navigator and Expedition were redesigned for 2007 and based on Ford's T1 platform, which is related to the same platform that the 2004+ F-150 is based on. Compared to the Navigator's previous platform, the new platform provides greater rigidity for better driving dynamics. The independent rear suspension has been replaced with a new five-link IRS design to further enhance handling and ride quality. The Navigator continued to come with standard 18-inch alloy wheels but 20-inch versions were now available. The 5.4L 3-valve SOHC V8 introduced in the 2005 Navigator remained unchanged for 2007, but the ZF Friedrichshafen 6-speed automatic transmission it was mated to was replaced by Ford's own 6-speed design, the 6R80. Due to the Navigator's redesign, its base curb weight increased to 5872lbs in two-wheel drive models and 6070lbs in four-wheel drive models. Navigator L models were even heavier at 5963lbs in two-wheel drive models and 6221lbs in four-wheel drive models. In spite of this, thanks to their improved frame, the Navigator's towing capacity increased for 2007, approaching 9000lbs in two-wheel drive models.
For 2008, packaging for the Navigator's luxury and convenience features was simplified, resulting in the elimination of the perennial Luxury and Ultimate trim levels and the standardization of a number of features that were previously optional. Some of these newly standard features included heated and cooled front seats, power-folding third row seats, a power liftgate, and a 600-Watt 14-speaker THX II-Certified audio system. Also newly standard was a 3.31:1 rear axle ratio, though a 3.73:1 ratio was still available as option for the Navigator and remained standard in the Navigator L. Newly available was a rearview camera to aid in backing up.
For 2009, the Navigator's 5.4L V8 gained 10hp (7kW) as well as flex-fuel capability. The rearview camera that was new for 2008 was now standard, as were heated second row seats, Front Park Assist, a capless fuel filler, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and Lincoln SYNC.