The Navigator L badge has been in existence since the early 2000s, providing an extended wheelbase to the already luxurious Lincoln Navigator. Launched in 2017, there’s a new 2018 model year Navigator L, slotting above the standard Navigator and three-row MKT and competing against other full-size luxury SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes-Benz GLS – but unlike the GLS, the Navigator L features a body-on-frame chassis. Though based on the same platform as the Ford Expedition, the aluminum bodied Navigator L squeezes an extra 9.2-inches between the axles, and adds 11.9 inches to the overall length.
The only thing that looks better than the Navigator L’s exterior is the inside of it. It’s a mix of luxurious design elements from thick bolstered, rich leather appointed seats to deep wood veneers and minimalistic screen designs. Elements like an ethereally styled speedometer and knurled climate control dials are luxurious touches that draw the whole thing together in a way that rivals the Mercedes-Benz GLS incredibly closely. The standard seating configuration in the Navigator L is three rows with the second and third rows being 3 seat benches. All rows offer exceptional head and leg room, even the third – though for additional shoulder and hip room, buyers can opt for one fewer seat by equipping captain’s chairs in the third row. Second and third row seats fold at the touch of a button to reveal up to 120.2 cubic feet of storage capacity, with 73.3 cubes behind the 2nd row, and 34.3 available behind row 3.
Few SUVs in this segment offer exceptional driving dynamics – more often than not they sail along like a yacht on the French Riviera. That means pitching and rolling with the tarmac, and leaning around corners. But the Navigator L’s roll stability system does an absolutely impeccable job of managing this – offering extra support under cornering. The steering system lacks feel, but is superbly weighted for a vehicle of this size and offers direct responses that make the ultra-large SUV surprisingly maneuverable. Riding on big 22-inch alloy wheels, the adaptive suspension assists in managing the ride quality with aplomb – soaking up bumps and ironing out ripples like few others in this class do. Grip levels, even on rear wheel drive models are utterly superb – partly thanks to the 285-width tires and their broad contact patch. However, ground clearance is lacking due to low running boards – which compromises mild off-road ability.
Whereas most competitors – specifically those hailing from the USA – feature V8-shaped methods of propulsion, the Navigator L draws strongly from Ford’s engine development by using the same twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 from the Ford F-150 Raptor. Available figures of 450 horsepower and 500 lb-ft are routed via a 10-speed automatic gearbox to the rear wheels as standard, though all-wheel drive is available. It’s almost as responsive as it is in the Raptor – and despite its size the Navigator L covers ground at an alarming rate. Hauling ability comes standard – with RWD, the Navigator L will haul up to 8,700 pounds.
The Navigator L is available in just two trim levels, Select and Reserve. The Select trim includes amenities such as tri-zone climate control, cruise control, power adjustable pedals, active noise control, and a heated steering wheel. The Reserve trim adds 24-way power adjustable ventilated seats, a sunroof, and exterior welcome lights. Both models can be equipped with the Technology Pack that equips adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, a heads-up display, lane departure warning, and a heavy duty trailer package. A Black Label Edition comes fully equipped and features upgraded leather and more chrome detailing.
Few SUVs of this size offer this much luxury, this much space, and driving dynamics that are this good – fewer still have been able to rival the Mercedes-Benz GLS. But the Navigator L takes the fight to the Germans and offers a credible rival. With both models similarly specced, there’s no need to opt above the Select trim line.