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2007 Lincoln Navigator Review

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2007 Lincoln Navigator

SEE ALSO: Lincoln Buyer's Guide™

By Thom Cannell
Detroit Bureau
The Auto Channel

For a while I had a hero., Peter Horbury. Peter is Ford’s Executive Director of Design in North America and in charge of car and truck design at Ford Motor Company as of 2006. Almost his first duty was to introduce and praise the appearance of a vehicle he had little control over, the new Lincoln Navigator.

I thought that chrome-front Navy Blue Navigator looked like a warmed over ’97 Tahoe Police Special and did not agree. After spending one full week with a Navigator equipped with the Ultimate package, plus seeing several on the road I’ve moderated my tune. It helped immensely that my test truck was painted a handsome shade of White Chocolate that complimented the newly designed chrome egg crate grille, and that it did not arrive equipped with the thankfully optional “maximum bling” chromed nose and lower air intake.

Lincoln’s 2007 Navigator isn’t new, but is so heavily revised it might as well be. Exteriors and interiors are new, its powertrain increases mileage, and changes to the Independent Rear Suspension make room for a new third row of seats.

Navigator’s controversial new exterior features additional chrome on the front, sides, rear end. This year, the signature egg crate grille is chromed. An optional trim panel on the newly sculpted power dome hood, plus more chrome on the lower air intake may please a few buyers. I think Lincoln’s more modest Monochrome Package is the better choice for the front end; it leaves all but the grille body colored.

Any side view of Navigator shows a bold chrome accent with embossed NAVIGATOR signature and chrome roof rack rails. Rear views expose a larger chromed Lincoln star and chrome exhaust tip. Below, your optional Class III/IV tow hitch has a body colored cover. Most buyers will opt for the 20” chrome wheels versus standard 18” machined aluminum wheels as the larger wheel-tire package is better looking and fills wheel arches with plenty of rubber. Regardless, maximum tow capacity is 8,950.

High Intensity Discharge headlamps appear a wrap-around extension of the grille and are standard. Lincoln designers say, “They are no longer just headlights, but industrial jewelry…” For 2007, optional foldout running boards are body colored and capable of supporting in excess of 300 pounds. I noticed that, after opening a rear door to toss in my gym bag, the running boards remained deployed long enough to enter the front door without cycling twice. A nice feature.

Navigator continues to use Ford’s 5.4-liter Triton V8 with 300 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque. This engine now runs on 87-octane fuel and is mated to a 6-speed automatic with a two overdrive gears, fifth and sixth, for increased mileage. Lincoln claims a 7% improvement in fuel economy “compared to a typical 4-speed transmission.” You can go a long way in Navigator; fuel tank size is 28 gallons for Navigator, or 33.5 gallons for the new Navigator L.

This year the chassis has improved stiffness thanks to Ford’s now-familiar tube-through-tube ladder frame, pioneered on Ford Explorer. This design offers greater room in the rear for both an independent rear suspension and a wider third seat. By using this design the frame is almost straight at the rear instead of looping up over a solid axle. Now rear half-shafts power the rear wheels by penetrating the frame rails through “portholes,” or tubes cut and welded into the frame rails. (The previous frame dates from 2003 when Navigator introduced IRS.) For 2007 an all-new five-link Independent Rear Suspension uses short and long arms to control lateral (side-to-side) forces, the fifth link controls fore/aft movement. Coil-over dampers (shock absorbers) are fitted to all models while 18 mm, 19, mm, or 21 mm rear stabilizer bars are used depending on model chosen. The front suspension is a carryover double wishbone Short and Long Arm design with coil-over dampers and 36 mm stabilizer bar.

As we said, the new rear suspension design permits a wider third row seat with comfort Lincoln says is equal to second-row comfort levels. We filled our test model with six adults, four of above-average size. That meant the two average sized passengers had to ride in the “kids seat.” Navigator’s generous 37.7” of legroom gave me and another adult a roomy and comfortable bench seat with nearly upright posture. The standard seating configuration is 2nd row bucket seats and bench seat for the 3rd row, the option for fold-flat 60/40 3rd row seats includes an option for Ford’s PowerFold™ seats or PowerFold™ third row combined with 40/20/40 second row bench seats.

If you’re interested in convenience, the power lift, power lower third row combined with Navigator’s power liftgate option is truly handy. During a snowstorm I could push a button and have the hatch opened by the time I got around to the groceries stored behind the third row seats. Then I could push the “close” button (D pillar or key fob) and walk away laden with armloads of groceries and listen to the hatch close and lock behind me.

Peter’s team, the same folks who originated Navigator’s signature interior, got a second chance to express their talents, this time with an increased emphasis on quietness. Creating quietness started with 1 mm thicker side window and special acoustic glass in the front window. Additional noise dampening was added to headliner and dashboard and carpeting has additional padding to reduce tire and road noise.

The 2007 instrument panel houses an instrument cluster that reminds me of classic mid-80’s Lincoln Continentals and their rectangular instruments. Newly designed secondary gauges are set in a way that designers’ say resembles rectangular eyewear. Its row of secondary gauges—battery, fuel, temperature, etc—top the speedometer and tachometer, separated by a user-changeable information display (timer, odometer, miles-to-empty, etc.)

Leather seats are seemingly obligatory on luxury vehicles these days, though in Michigan weather they are hot in summer and icy-cold in winter. Navigator can heat and cool the seats, if you wish. These leather seats adjust 10-ways for driver and front passenger and fit 4’ 10” to 6’ 5” drivers and passengers with sizes from 90-350 pounds, according to Lincoln. Seat designers focused on immediate softness of sensation while maintaining comfort over long drives. It works, at least for the 80-90 mile trips I took. Though lacking the lateral support of sports sedans, they are roomy and comfortable. Seat heaters rapidly warmed our posteriors on seven sub-freezing mornings.

Another luxury hallmark is wooden accents. Navigator offers Dark Ebony or Anigre woods against Charcoal, Stone, or Camel interiors. If you want a Camel interior it will always have Anigre wood accents. The wood is real, and laser cut and “booked” or side-to-side matched for true luxury appearance. The interior theme Navigator initiated, satin platinum trim and signature soft blue-white lighting, continues and has gravitated to other Lincoln products.

One of the nicest enhancements, part of the Elite Package including the power running boards, is a 600-Watt THX ®II certified 6-disc CD changer with 14 speakers, 3.5 mm auxiliary inputs, and Sirius satellite radio. The auxiliary 3.5 mm connection lets you hook up your iPod (if not yet control its functions) or other MP3 player and the sound system is awesomely accurate.

On one of our longer trips, two back seat passengers enjoyed the rear DVD with 8” screen and wireless headsets. Actually, I’d misplaced the headsets and adjusted the audio to rear only. Don’t forget the headphones or you’ll be stuck listening to a movie you can’t see.

Lincoln’s DVD navigation system comes from Pioneer and includes steering wheel-controlled voice activation for its 6.5” touch screen. This navigation system provides text-to-speech conversion and can speak its directions in three languages. I really prefer the way it offers street names in spoken directions, like “Left in 500 feet on Michigan Avenue.” Comparatively, most systems mention only distance to the next direction. On some off ramps, at multiple street intersections, and in compact suburban neighborhoods having street names spoken is quite helpful.

Soon I’ll be driving an Expedition EL, sibling to the Navigator L that went on sale in January. Both are 14.7 inches longer than Navigator (or Expedition) with a 131.0” vs. 119.0” wheelbase and overall length of 223.3” versus 208.4” compared to Navigator.

That extra space is behind the third row seats. Storage capacity increases by 25 cubic feet to 42.7 cubic feet from 18.2 cubic feet. Weight gain for Navigator L is a modest 151 pounds and maximum payload remains the same, 1,650 pounds.

Our weeklong test proved Navigator to be extremely quiet and easy to drive. It feels connected to the road and steering effort has a nice heft without being heavy or overly sensitive. Overall, it’s more fun to drive than many sedans we’ve driven. For 2007 the interior is considerably improved in fit and finish and there were no complaints about the older model.

A big factor for many families and businesses is the comfort of second and third row seats. Those who rode in the second or third row seats said they were comfortable, roomy and satisfactory for long drives. I’m one of those passengers and I agree.