The Lincoln Navigator’s reputation for spaciousness, sophistication and a big price tag has always preceded it, and the 2023 Navigator is no exception. Elegant and big on power, this SUV doesn’t have a lot of competitors that can achieve what it does so well – bathe you in absolute luxury while towing a massive trailer.
The 2023 Lincoln Navigator comes in three distinct trim levels: Standard, Reserve, and Black Label. I recently tested the mid-level Reserve and can attest to it being unlike anything called ‘mid-level’ in the auto industry. Which is to say – it is impressive, even if it does have a base price of $94,650 before any options are added.
The first thing that sets the Navigator apart from most of the large SUVs, including those in the luxury segment, is its sheer size and brawn. The Navigator can move seven people, and plenty of cargo, on demand. With a towing capacity of up to 8,700 pounds and available 4-wheel drive, its abilities are unmatched.
Weighing in at 6,000 pounds, the Navigator has a presence on the road that is undeniable. Its long, sculpted nose is only exceeded in impact by the long beltline crease that runs from the tip of the wrap headlight lenses to the rear taillights. The massive signature chrome-mesh grille seems to take up three-quarters of the entire front.
On the outside, my Reserve tester featured big 22-inch 12-spoke rims ($995) that would have dwarfed most SUVs but merely accented the enormity of the Navigator’s girth. The power, and illuminated, running boards are standard and essential to getting in and out of the SUV. Privacy glass shades the interior and creates a feeling of secrecy. It was part of a $6,300 upgrade package that included a Tri-Zone temperature center, audio upgrades, and a lit grille star.
There’s no denying the Navigator’s intent is to submerge its passengers in absolute refinement. From genuine wood trim in the center console and door panels to a heated leather steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, power heated 10-way front seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs and power-recline third-row seats, the cabin is a posh, leather-clad comfort zone.
A 12-inch configurable LCD instrument cluster, adjustable pedals, power one-touch windows, tri-zone automatic climate control, 4G modem with WiFi hotspot capability, and active noise control are tech goodies that make any trip comfortable and safe.
A 13.2-inch LCD touchscreen provides control for the SYNC 3 infotainment system, the navigation system, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a 14-speaker Revel audio system. A heated second-row 40/20/40 power-folding bench ($625) is available, though my tester featured two huge, heated dual captain’s chairs.
Navigator Reserves offer heated and ventilated 12-way power front seats and second-row split seating with a center console. Visibility for the driver is very good as you sit high above almost everything with four wheels on the road. Possibly my biggest gripe is the road noise that creeps into the cabin at higher speeds.
The Navigator is extremely safe, featuring a cadre of features from standard traction control with stability control, side-wind stabilization, a blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert, advanced airbags, and anti-lock brakes.
This year, Ford and Lincoln’s Co-Pilot360 driver assistance suite is standard, which elevates the safety features to include a rearview camera, automatic emergency braking, and a lane-keep assist system.
The Navigator has always featured powerhouse capability. Offering one engine, a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 delivering 440 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, with 510 pound-feet of torque, make no mistake this is “The Big SUV That Could.”
Mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, the powerful V6 drives standard rear-wheel drive on Standard Navigators and 4-wheel drive on Reserve models. The estimated combined fuel economy for the 4-wheel-drive models is 18 mpg, with the maximum towing capacity rated at an impressive 8,700 pounds.
I found the Navigator to deliver plenty of power and torque that was brought about seamlessly and effortlessly. The proven EcoBoost technology easily gets this giant up to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds. At highway speeds it is smooth and refined.
The Lincoln Navigator Reserve swims in the pricey pool starting at more than $90K. My tester added more than $10,800 in options that took a very nice large SUV and elevated it to a posh, luxury liner costing a final $107,390 (including $1,895 destination).
Is it too much? Depends on who you ask, what their goals are, and what they want from their SUV. It’s not a mainstream SUV for the average family, it’s a flagship SUV for one of the premier luxury brands. I think the Reserve is a genuine stunner for what it adds over the base Navigator.
• John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years of experience driving, testing and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations and vehicles.