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New Car Review


by Tom Hagin


Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 42,660
Price As Tested                                    $ 45,340
Engine Type                     SOHC 2V 5.4 Liter V8 w/SEC*
Engine Size                                 330 cid/5410 cc
Horsepower                                   230 @ 4250 RPM
Torque (pounds/feet)                         325 @ 3000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  119.1"/79.9"/204.8"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     5584 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                    30 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P245/75R16
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                    Front-engine/all-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                      Eight-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                        N/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.43


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            13/17/14
0-60 MPH                                       10.7 seconds
Payload                                            1800 lbs
Towing-capacity                                    8000 lbs
     * Sequential electronic control

In the car business, entering into the hottest vehicle segment when it has peaked is like a superstar player going to a Super Bowl contender team after the regular season is over.

Ford has put Lincoln-Mercury in the starting SUV lineup in the powerful position of being totally upscale, and ready to tackle the competition. Available in 4X4 or 4X2 form, Navigator may seem all luxury, but it's much more than that.

OUTSIDE - Navigator differs in appearance from its Expedition cousin in every aspect except the roof panel. Up front is a chrome grille above a wrap-around valance and bumper combination, as well as a composite hood, unique front fenders and integrated running boards. In back, the rear lift gate and bumper are Navigator-specific, as is the chrome- ringed licence plate and reverse lamp cluster that gives it a unique, non-Expedition look. A Class-III trailer hitch is nicely integrated into the rear bumper, giving the full-sized SUV up to 8000 pounds of towing capacity. Cast aluminum wheels are mated to 16-inch all-weather tires, (taller 17-inch units are optional) and although most Navigators will never see the outback, an optional skid plate package keeps sharp rocks from damaging mechanical components.

INSIDE - Navigator's intent is to provide as luxurious an experience as an SUV can provide. The seats are covered in soft leather upholstery, and the first and second row chairs are "captain's" units. A second-row bench seat is an option, and the standard third-row bench is comfortable only for small adults and children. The steering wheel is covered half in wood and half in leather, while small amounts of polished wood trim on the dash, door panels and center console give an extra splash of luxury, as does an optional six-disc CD changer comes mounted inside the center console. Extensive use of sound-deadening materials in the floor and roof pillars, as well as on the underside of the hood and instrument panel, help give an extremely quiet ride. Power windows, door locks, mirrors and seats are standard, as are automatic temperature control, an AM/FM cassette stereo, cruise control, intermittent wipers, tilt steering and remote keyless entry.

ON THE ROAD - Power comes from a standard 5.4 liter overhead cam V8 Ford engine, the same one used as optional power in the Expedition. It is rated at 230 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, and is tuned for truck duty, so low-end power is the focus. It uses an overhead camshaft for each cylinder bank, sequential fuel injection and an electronically- controlled four-speed automatic transmission. It can haul as much as 1800 pounds of payload, or transport seven passengers effortlessly, especially up steep mountain grades. Its all-wheel-drive unit is given the name Control-Trac, and can be shifted into one of four positions: 2WD (for street use); 4WD (traversing snow or mud-covered roads); automatic 4WD (it senses wheel slip and will redirect torque to the front wheels as needed); 4WD Low (for rough country duty or yanking a boat up a slippery launch ramp).

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Lincoln has done its best to make Navigator ride like a car, but that's tough to accomplish when it rides on a boxed ladder-type truck chassis and heavy-duty suspension components. The front suspension is independent, a design long used on passenger cars, but the solid rear axle is definitely all truck. Navigator 4X4s also use a load-leveling air-pressurized system that will raise or lower the vehicle depending on the situation. When the key is switched off, the vehicle will drop by one inch, so exiting is easier. It will also rise by one inch when operated in 4WD Low range to give extra ground clearance. Its ride is stable, although really rough pavement will make the tail shudder somewhat. It uses recirculating ball steering that features variable-rate power boost, and four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) for excellent stopping power.

SAFETY - Dual airbags, ABS and side-impact beams are all standard.

OPTIONS - A 290-watt stereo and six-disc CD changer add $950, while rear A/C adds $705.