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Lincoln Navigator: Young audience likes leaner style SUV

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There were no secrets about the previous generation Navigator’s average audience, age 65, and little choice for Lincoln other than to give its marquee SUV a revamp of significant proportions.

And they did it with impressive flair and equally-ideal style.

Exterior

The all-new Navigator has such a dramatic change on the outside that many people I ran into during my week-long review were unaware it was a Lincoln, which is an easy thing to do if you do not focus on the long iconic logo in the middle of the equally-huge honeycomb grille.

Meeting some level of ambiguity has to make Lincoln engineers smile a bit, after all, sharing structure with the Ford team puts you at somewhat of a disadvantage trying to re-invent a luxury SUV. The good thing is – they pull it off and it never feels like a polished Ford … ever.

The long, lean and crisp creases and sharp angles etch out a signature feel that is refined and adds immediate sophistication, which is not easy to do with such a hulking frame. Thanks to some strategic aluminum adds, the frame is 200+ pounds lighter, which you tend to appreciate at both the gas pump and inside the cabin.

The Navigator offers a balanced and perfectly proportioned exterior profile – nothing feels bulbous, overwrought or excessive. Yes, it is big – but it is not offensive and thinking big certainly gives way to being balanced.

Performance

The Navigator tips the scales at more than 5,900 pounds. It’s big and requires a powerful plant to get up and go on demand. The 450-horsepower, twin-turbo V6 (510 pound-feet of torque) is mated to an impressive and smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission. There’s enough ponies here to make the ‘Gator’ snap to attention in just about any situation – including a cabin fully occupied.

I found the Navigator to offer incredibly smooth performance with reasonable immediate power off the line – but even more gradual gains are there if you need it – just be prepared for it to work through the 10 speeds at a pace that is less enthusiastic than you might like. A new suspension and traction selector allows for the SUV to adapt to any road conditions. It is available as a standard rear-wheel-drive SUV with an all-wheel-drive option.

Cabin

Visibility is enhanced inside the cabin with glass surround that seems to circle the entire Navigator. Interior materials are excellent, with soft-touch surfaces and wood accents. A contemporary elegance is understated with great success for the 12-inch instrument cluster, which can be customized to prioritize information, as well as offering a head-up display for safety and convenience.

Front row seating is luxurious and plentiful with firm support, less recliner-soft, but always a pleasure. Massage, heat and cool settings create perfection for any day’s climate and 30 positions deliver custom sightlines.

My tester featured the optional 20-speaker Revel II audio system, a definitive upgrade over whatever is the base model and it provides an excessive amount of beautiful audio at quality levels that are hard to explain. It’s great, you know it when you hear it, but the tech that goes into it – well, audiophiles beware, it is worth it!

Second-row seats are equally comfortable and third rows are shorter but looked pretty roomy per the norm I see out there. Power adjustments allow for the configuration of the seats to accommodate utility storage or hauling needs.

Tech & Connectivity

The Navigator’s Wi-Fi delivers access, though there are plenty of other options for entertainment, such as HDMI, USB, and SD inputs to optional 8-inch second-row screens.

With a base price of $72,055, the big Navigator easily competes in the comfort, looks and capability categories and from a competitive standpoint, this base price is a reasonable value into the Lincoln door.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication