Lincoln redesigned its full-size sport utility vehicle as an early 2003 model and moved it away from its pickup-truck origins. Changes to the Navigators chassis promise less of the trucklike ride that the previous model exhibited. The current model features a four-wheel-independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. Like its predecessor, the 2004 Navigator is essentially a dressed-up Ford Expedition.
Developers sought to improve interior quietness and refinement. Lincoln claimed several industry firsts with some of the Navigators features; these included the SUVs optional, powered, third-row seat that folds into the floor and its power-extendable running boards, which ease entry and exit. Rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive Navigators are offered in Luxury and Ultimate trim levels.
A tire-pressure monitor is standard, and front tweeter speakers are installed. An optional AdvanceTrac electronic stability system now features Roll Stability Control. Lincoln also introduced a companion Aviator SUV for 2003.
Even though the design of the roof and front doors was carried over from the previous model, fresh bodywork elsewhere promises better aerodynamics. Lincolns signature grille consists of vertical argent vanes. Aluminum wheels hold 18-inch tires.
Elevating the front edge of the hood makes it possible to see the vehicles corners. For the 2003 redesign, frame rails were lowered by 2 inches, and the bumper beam was lowered by 2 inches to improve compatibility with smaller vehicles in a collision. The Navigator lowers itself by an inch when the ignition is turned off to allow easier entry and exit.
High-intensity-discharge headlights, a power liftgate and a power moonroof are installed on the Ultimate model. The available power running boards extend outward by 4 inches when the door is opened, and they retract when the door closes.
Depending on the second-row seating configuration, the Navigator carries either seven or eight people and includes a standard 60/40-split third-row seat. Lincoln offers either a bench seat or twin buckets for the second row. A power-operated third-row seat that folds into the floor is optional.
The interior blends walnut burl with premium leather trim. A navigation system and a DVD entertainment system for the rear seats are available. Standard equipment includes dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating surfaces (excluding the third-row seat), heated power mirrors, a six-CD changer and power-adjustable pedals. The Ultimate edition adds heated and cooled seats, the powered third-row seat and Lincolns AdvanceTrac electronic stability system.
Under the Hood
Lincolns 5.4-liter V-8 engine develops 300 horsepower and 355 pounds-feet of torque; it mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. The 4x4 model can tow as much as 8,300 pounds.
All-disc antilock brakes, dual-stage front airbags and a tire-pressure monitor are standard. A curtain-type Safety Canopy airbag system enhances occupant protection in side impacts and rollovers. The rear park-assist system uses ultrasonic sensors and radar.
Lincolns top SUV does a fine job of keeping its tires on the pavement. The ride is pleasantly satisfying overall, and the suspension responds quickly to bumps without overreacting.
Handling is reasonably refined. The Navigator performs capably on twisty two-lane roads, but its a tad unsure of itself at times. The automatic transmission reacts easily most of the time, but multiple downshifts when the gas pedal is pushed hard can be jarring. Braking is linear and effective.