Of all the American brands, Lincoln has been the one that disappoints me the most.
This iconic marque, famous for the Continental and Town Car, got overtaken and left behind by the modern age but owners, Ford, are trying to revive the success it once had.
The Lincoln Navigator has been around since the 1990s and proved popular but, much like the brand itself, it sort of lost its way as more sophisticated, luxurious and better rivals forged ahead of it.
The early versions of this full-size SUV were hardly the most attractive vehicles on the road and even recently, compared with some of the SUVs it was up against, it looked old fashioned and seriously aesthetically challenged.
Thankfully, Lincoln have done something about that and the latest incarnation of the Navigator is in much better shape to blaze a new trail in what is an extremely tough market here in the UAE.
The design has been significantly improved with a more rounded front, a new Lincoln split-wing grille which gives it real presence and enough LED lights to illuminate a small stadium.
It still looks a bit dated from the side but the rear has been tidied up, has a power lift-gate, and now looks a bit more refined with a chrome tipped exhaust pipe adding the finishing touch. There are optional 22-inch polished aluminium wheels and to be fair, it is now a pretty cool looking piece of kit.
It also has puddle-lamps that put down a welcome mat of light with the Lincoln logo when the unlock button on the key fob is pushed, which is a nice touch.
So far, then, so good and the Navigator facelift is an improvement on its predecessor but I still think they could have done a bit more to make it even more distinctive from the last generation.
Inside, the emphasis is clearly on luxury and comfort and our test vehicle came fully loaded with lashings of high-quality leather and a premium Ziricote wood trim which is usually found in luxury yachts.
There is also a new leather-wrapped steering with wood trim which is nicely designed.
The instrument panel has also been redesigned and now features a 4.2-inch LCD screen and there is an eight-inch touch screen where the new infotainment system and sat-nav can be accessed.
There is plenty of technology in this vehicle with MyLincoln Touch and driver connect system which allows touch-screen or voice activated commands.
The Navigator is built for families and inside, it’s like a small bus. There are three rows of seats enabling it to cater for up to eight passengers in comfort.
The second-row has two optional ‘captain’s chairs’ and if you want to use this vehicle for moving large amounts of luggage, seats fold down creating a massive amount of space.
This new Navigator is more powerful than its predecessor and features a 3.5-litre twin-turbo direct-injection EcoBoost V6 engine.
It produces 380 bhp and torque of 624nm and it is extremely responsive propelling what is a heavy vehicle along at a healthy lick.
It is hooked up to a six-speed SelectShift automatic gearbox which also has manual gears available.
To drive, the Navigator is ultra comfortable, quiet and handles extremely well with some body-roll going through corners but that is to be expected in a vehicle like this.
It also has the benefit of power-assisted steering which adds precision and makes it easier to steer at low speeds.
The Lincoln Drive Control option uses sensors that monitor road conditions every two milliseconds and feed information to the suspension system ensuring the smoothest and best possible handling in all conditions. You can also choose to drive the car in three modes: normal, sport and comfort.
This is the best Navigator ever produced and I was far more impressed than I thought I would be. I really enjoyed driving this SUV but although it now looks much better and has an impressive new engine I’m not sure it’s enough to take on and beat some serious opposition.
It now has much more appeal but it’s still not quite as good as its main rivals, the Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes GL, Range Rover, and the Infiniti QX80.
Lincoln are getting their act together after years in the wilderness and the Navigator has plenty of fans who will be more than happy with this latest incarnation. It ticked more boxes than I thought it would and for a family it is a great SUV. It might not be up to the standards of Mercedes, Cadillac or Range Rover but it’s still a very impressive vehicle with lots of space and distinctive looks.
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