By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 6.7
The Lincoln Navigator started life as a luxurious version of the Ford Expedition, and it remains so today. That's good news, in that it offers a substantial 9,000 pounds of towing and plenty of room for passengers and their stuff, especially in Navigator L versions. Last year, it got the new Sync 3 system, which significantly upgrades infotainment performance. But despite that, and its high-tech turbocharged V6 engine, the 2017 Lincoln Navigator lags competition like the Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes-Benz GL when it comes to other modern technology, such as automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and radar-based cruise control, not to mention luxuries like front seats that massage the driver and passenger. Maybe the best news is that an all-new Navigator is in the pipeline.
The 2017 Lincoln Navigator can tow up to 9,000 pounds, it looks like nothing else on the road, and it offers up an independent rear suspension that its primary American rival, the Cadillac Escalade, lacks. It's also less expensive than the Caddy by several thousand dollars.
Lacking the latest driver-assist and safety features, the Navigator feels dated compared to competing luxury SUV models like the Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, both of which handily outclass the big Lincoln. The Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 offer smaller and more maneuverable, but still compelling, options.
KBB Expert Ratings
After a more thorough refresh last year that added the Sync 3 infotainment system, changes to the 2017 Lincoln Navigator are limited to a single new color: Palladium White Gold, which was available on the MKX crossover SUV last year.
There's nothing old-school about the 2017 Lincoln Navigator engine: It's a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that puts out a solid 380 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque...as long as you're using...
... premium fuel. Still, it's more than enough to motivate this big beast, even in the long-wheelbase models. An available 3-mode Drive Control suspension-damping system allows the driver to choose among Comfort, Normal and Sport settings. We found the Comfort setting a bit soft, preferring Normal or Sport. The adjustable dampers work well with the independent rear suspension, which helps the Navigator feel more planted in turns. But even in Sport mode there's little that's sporty about this big SUV, thanks to its body-on-frame truck roots and vague steering. The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class rides like a sedan thanks to its unibody platform, although nothing in the class can beat the Navigator's 9,000-pound towing capacity.
The 2017 Navigator looks like it'd be powered by a brawny fuel-guzzling V8 engine, and that used to be true. These days, it uses Lincoln's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, which uses two turbos to punch up 380 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.
Last year the Navigator got a serious upgrade in materials, and it's still one of the best things about it. We like the new leather and Ziricote wood trim, which bring this big SUV into decidedly more modern times.
The 2017 Lincoln Navigator comes in both standard-wheelbase Navigator and long-wheelbase Navigator L versions. Both come with three rows of seats with standard 2nd-row captain's chairs to total seating for seven; a no-cost option replaces them with a 2nd-row bench to bump that up to eight. Fine leather and wood impress, as does comfortable seating that includes good legroom, especially in LWB models. Overall, interior space is good, but maybe not quite as good as the expansive exterior may suggest. Cargo space in SWB models is 18.1 cubic feet, which is less than what you get in the smaller Honda Pilot.
The 2017 Lincoln Navigator's massive split grille is unmistakably Lincoln, even as the brand's signature look morphs with the new Continental and MKZ. Still, there's no disguising that this is a big, imposing box. At 207.4 inches in length, even a standard-size model is a potentially cumbersome vehicle to maneuver; the long-wheelbase Navigator L goes even further, coming in at 222.3 inches in length; measure your garage before buying. If you have heavy items to load, the high floor will make it harder, but at least available motorized running boards help the little ones climb their own way into the back.
The Select and Reserve trim levels are available in both Navigator and Navigator L. Even the base Select model is nicely equipped, boasting the latest Sync 3 system with its 8-inch touch screen, navigation, voice command and 14-speaker THX II-certified audio system. The front leather seats are heated and cooled. Other features include a power tailgate, adjustable pedals, push-button start and power tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Safety features are blind-spot monitoring, a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors. We like the "welcome mat" puddle light under the outside mirrors that illuminates the ground when the unlock button is pressed.
Besides the choice of rear-wheel drive (RWD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD), and standard or extended length, the main choice facing Navigator buyers is the Reserve Package. Available with any model, it adds premium leather across all three rows, and includes Ziricote wood accents, 22-inch wheels, power running boards, and upgraded floor mats. It's a nice upgrade, but it's also $8,000. Other options include a moonroof, and if you choose 4WD, then Lincoln Drive Control comes along with the ride. Not available are adaptive cruise control, a foot-activated rear liftgate and parallel-park assist, all available on other Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
The only engine available for the 2017 Lincoln Navigator is the EcoBoost 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. With 380 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, it's more powerful and sophisticated than the ancient 5.4-liter V8 it replaces. The 6-speed automatic transmission has a manual shift mode. Rear- or 4-wheel drive is available, and 4WD models include a 2-speed transfer case. In low range the engine's electronic throttle switches to a special off-road calibration for more precise torque management in the worst conditions; it also features hill-descent control and hill-start assist. Towing capability maxes out at 9,000 pounds for a RWD SWB model, and falls to 8,400 for a 4WD Navigator L. Due to changes in EPA testing, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6
380 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm
460 lb-ft of torque @ 2,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg (SWB, RWD), 15/20 mpg (LWB, RWD), 15/20 mpg (SWB, 4WD), 15/19 mpg (LWB, 4WD)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a rear-wheel-drive 2017 Lincoln Navigator Select is about $64,400, including the $1,195 destination charge. Long-wheelbase Navigator L models start at about $66,800. If you want 4WD, you'll add about $3,500 to the price of either vehicle. If you want to spend as much as possible, a fully loaded 4WD Navigator L can approach $80,000. Despite the high price, it undercuts the Cadillac Escalade by several thousand dollars, and is tens of thousands less than the Lexus LX. It is in line with the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Infiniti QX80 and Mercedes-Benz GL, all of which offer more advanced technology. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new luxury SUV. The Lincoln Navigator has only so-so residual value.