The Navigator Black Label that Ford sent for review arrived with a $98,320 price tag and a hell of a lot to prove.
The Lincoln brand hadn’t produced a class leader or a true winner since the original Navigator that debuted as a 1998 model. The second-generation of the glorified Expedition didn’t capture the same magic, with a lot of its sales going to General Motor’s Cadillac Escalade. That the new one was suddenly pulling massive profits for Ford and luring buyers away from other brands was a surprise — until we drove it.
It’s rare that a new vehicle is genuinely unexpected, but the Navigator blows you away from the moment you get into it. It’s a bit of a climb to get in — thank the Lincoln lords for including power-deployed running boards to provide a nice step up to the cabin — but the view is worth it. The top Navigator has the Black Label trim, which comes in a variety of themes. Rather than simply picking your leather and wood, Lincoln designed interiors around central concepts with well-matched upholstery and trim.
The luxury doesn’t stop there, as the Navigator offers every single capability you’d need in a car. It’s got an absurdly massive interior with room for six adults and even a seventh — albeit thinner person — in the middle seat in the back. The second-row chairs are massive, with their own heating function and center console. Climate toggles and controls for the massive panoramic sunroof are accessible through a middle-row control panel, so the cheap seats aren’t a punishment.
Those wanting to make use of the 8,700-pound towing capacity will appreciate the available “pro trailer backup assist,” which allows you to reverse a trailer using a little knob to steer it. It takes the mental gymnastics out of trying to turn left to get your trailer to turn right, a serious help to those who need it. When you do get the trailer loaded up, its 450 horsepower helps ensure that the Navigator can handle its own mass and then some without feeling overburdened.
From the moment you decide to drive a new product, Lincoln has worked to provide an industry-leading ownership experience. But none of that matters if the product doesn’t hold up.
The Navigator does, offering everything buyers demand at a price that delivers more luxury, capability, and space for the dollar than just about anything out there. It’s so good that it has catapulted Lincoln from the brink of irrelevance to the forefront of the conversation.