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Car Review: 2005 Lincoln Navigator 2WD

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SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Lincoln

MODEL: Lincoln Navigator 2WD
ENGINE: 5.4-liter V8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 300 hp @ 5,000 rpm/355 lb.-ft. @ 2,750 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed automatic
WHEELBASE: 118.8 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 206.0 x 80.2 x 77.8 in.
TIRES: P275/65R-18
ECONOMY: 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway
PRICE: $49,790(base)

I must confess that the Lincoln Navigator 2WD is a car I would have chosen for a trip up and down the spine of Arizona. But since that's the vehicle that was available at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, that was the vehicle we used.

As it turned out, it was an ideal vehicle - in most respects. Let me get the fuel economy out of the way at the start. The Navigator is listed at 13 mpg city/18mpg highway. Since a lot of our driving was highway, we averaged 14.5 mpg on our test. But we also covered more than 1,000 miles and had to fill the 28.0-gallon fuel tank often. Fuel prices were, on the average, around $2.05 in Arizona that week, so there was a huge expense.

I went into the week in Arizona with a badly sprained ankle. So the Navigator's running boards, that present themselves whenever the doors are opened, proved to be ideal. I could use the step as a way to enter and exit the vehicle with minimal strain on my sore ankle.

Additionally, the Navigator has a power tailgate, up and down. You push the key fob twice and it goes in whatever direction you choose This was also very convenient and handy.

The Navigator also has power third row seats that fold flat with the push of a button. With the third row seats up, there's a tight cargo compartment. But fold those seats and the cargo volume increases dramatically. This helped when we were heading to the hotel. Normally, we carried either two or four passengers, but on the one occasion when we had six, we simply powered the rear seat up and the other two could ride back there.

We also drove in a wide variety of temperatures and road conditions. In Tucson, the temperatures were in the 80s, very hot ("it's a dry heat"). So we were able to use the air conditioner to its best advantage. We were also able to use the cooled seats. There is a fan that circulates air through the front seats, cooling them slightly and reducing the amount of seat-to-seat sweat generated.

We also had essentially opposite weather at the Grand Canyon. Temperatures were in the low 30s with rain and a threat of snow. There was fog on the roads and enough to fill half the Canyon. So we used the heater to good advantage and we used the heated seats as well to keep our buns toasty.

The majority of our driving was on paved roads - Interstates, rural and urban streets. But we also did a significant amount of driving on dirt roads, in particular one 50-mile stretch in the Tucson vicinity that took us up a steep mountain on a winding road. There were some good twists and turns to the road and a little bit of excitement at times.

Additionally, we took one side trip on the paved portion of an excellent road called the Apache Trail. This is a 40-mile road, approximately half of which is paved, that runs along the side of the Apache River that has been dammed in several sports to provide lakes. The Lincoln was ideal for the paved portion and we had a lot of fun driving along there. We didn't try the Navigator on the dirt portion, particularly since it was not 4WD and it was a large vehicle for the rather narrow road. We've done it before in a smaller SUV and didn't want to meet another Navigator coming the other way and have to back down.

The Navigator is powered by a 5.4-liter V8 rated at 300 horsepower. We had more than enough power for everything we wanted to do. We climbed some steep hills - mountains in some cases - both on dirt and pavement, and the Navigator with its 4-speed automatic gearbox was up to the task. We always felt we were in control regarding power, and could pass anyone we wanted whenever we wanted. We also had no problems keep at the 75 mph state speed limit.

With all of the advantages of the Navigator, we were quite pleased. Navigator was true to its name. The vehicle has an excellent navigation system that got us out of problems in several instances. Sometimes road markings aren't as clear as out-of-staters might hope for, and the navigation system was a good backup.

The Navigator proved to be a perfect package. We had plenty of room behind the second row for all the luggage we took. Since we flew out to Arizona, we couldn't carry that much, but it was nice to be able to lay it out. We could also hang clothes after we unpacked.

Ride quality was excellent, as one would expect from a Lincoln, but as we said earlier, it was also able to handle the twisty ones as well.

2004 The Auto Page Syndicate