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2021 Lincoln Navigator Review | The new land yacht

The 2021 Lincoln Navigator is true American luxury done in a distinct and proper fashion. It’s Lincoln’s flagship product with the highest level of opulence and glamour that a truck can possibly offer. The Navigator isn’t just a dressed-up F-150 or Expedition with makeup on, either. There’s still mechanically related to that pair with a truck chassis riding on an independent rear suspension hiding underneath, but everything above is pure, luxe bliss.

You’d be hard pressed to find elements missing from the Navigator’s formula in this latest generation of the SUV that came out in 2018. The interior is elegance turned up to the max with a design that evokes old-world charm while fully embracing modernity. It’s not trying to be youthful or edgy. Instead, the Navigator exudes a quiet, grown-up confidence that looks expensive and high class. It brings the guests to the table by adopting its own language of classical luxury, then keeps them there with the tech and capability we expect in a truck approaching a six-figure price. Three rows, two different lengths, one seriously powerful engine and truck-level towing capacity makes the Navigator a heady choice for the luxury truck buyer who wants to do everything with one big vehicle.

What’s new for 2021?

Changes for 2021 consist of new paint colors and minor equipment adjustments. Lincoln has added Asher Gray, Flight Blue, Green Gem and Signature Navy to the paint options. But it’s also deleted Iced Mocha, Silver Jade, Blue Diamond and Rhapsody Blue. Both the limited-slip differential and heavy-duty trailer tow package have also been made standard on the Black Label.

What’s the interior and in-car technology like?

The standard and Reserve Navigators are mighty luxurious on their own (including the interior shown in the top two photos above), but if you step up to an expensive Black Label trim, you’re in for an absolute treat. Its interior offers a choice of “Themes” that go far beyond the usual color choices of black, beige and gray, with maybe a different wood type or two. Of the three, “Chalet” is the most conventional with its blend of tan and black, but the oxblood red “Destination” (above bottom-left) and cool blue “Yacht Club” (above bottom-right) are unlike anything offered by another brand (OK, maybe you could special order a Bentley or Rolls-Royce). Lincoln complements all of its colors with beautifully paired trim options and control finishes that match the high level of luxury throughout the interior. 

The infinitely adjustable (30-way) seats can be made comfortable for most, but it may take a year before you find the “Perfect Position” promised by their name. Backseat passengers will be met with a high level of comfort and support, as the high-mounted captain’s chairs offer nearly as much comfort as those up front. With its broad space, big center console, household-style power plug and in-car WiFi, we’ve even used the Navigator’s back seat as a mobile office during a road trip

Lincoln basically re-skins infotainment tech from Ford for the big 10-inch screen stuck to the center of the dash (read and watch our full review here). It’s ultimately a functional and effective system, but it obviously doesn’t put on as much of a show as the massive OLED screens found in the new Cadillac Escalade. Our biggest complaint is its distance from the driver — the dash is so wide that it’s difficult to reach the far-right edge, and there are no physical controls to back up the touchscreen. Thankfully, Ford’s latest Sync software is generally bug-free and simple to use. You get physical controls for both the radio and climate control under the screen, and the push-button gear selector strip is positioned in the middle of it all. The instrument cluster is totally digital, but it’s as basic as it gets with a minimalist and simple design. 

How big is it?

The 2021 Lincoln Navigator is huge, and it can get even bigger if you get a Navigator L that adds 11.9 inches of overall length and 9.1 inches to the wheelbase. It appears gargantuan in person, towering high above everything that isn’t a truck and taking up every inch of available room in parking spaces. Don’t come near it if you dislike large cars.

Thankfully, the Navigator actually puts all that real estate to good use – which isn’t always the case among full-size SUVs. Three rows of seats are standard, and the second row can be made up of either captain’s chairs or a bench for maximum capacity. No matter the size or row, you’re going to have more than 40 inches of legroom and enough space for even tall adults. That includes the third row, which we’ve found to be more spacious and comfortable than any other, period. That includes those of crossovers, minivans and other full-size SUVs. 

Note that passenger space is the same in both regular and Navigator L models. They differ in terms of cargo space. While the regular model’s 19.3 cubic-feet of space behind the raised third row is better than most three-row vehicles and is capable of carrying the same amount of stuff as the Expedition, it may not be enough room for a longer trip when all those seats are being used. To that end, the L’s added length yields an extra 15 cubes of cargo room, which is the equivalent of a sedan’s trunk. If you have the room to park it, the L is definitely the way to go if you plan to routinely use all three rows. 

What’s the performance and fuel economy?

There’s only one engine available for the 2021 Lincoln Navigator: the high-output versions of Ford’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that also sees service in the mighty F-150 Raptor. It produces 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque, which is far more than the Cadillac Escalade. It’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but four-wheel drive is available.

Fuel economy varies depending on the drivetrain and model length. The most efficient Navigator is the standard-length model with rear-wheel drive. This truck achieves 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. Adding four-wheel drive causes a small drop to 15/21/18 mpg. The rear-drive Navigator L receives the same ratings at 16/21/18 (EPA ratings are not available for the Navigator L 4WD). These figures are much better than those of the Escalade, but fall short of the six-cylinder BMW X7 and Mercedes GLS models. 

What’s it like to drive?

There’s a lot to like about how the Navigator drives. In conjunction with electric power steering that provides consistent, appropriate and reassuring weighting, the Navigator doesn’t feel like an ancient, cumbersome truck like most of its competitors do. For something that weighs about 5,800 pounds, the Navigator is able to maintain a reasonable clip through twisty mountain roads.

Despite the ride’s improvement over an F-150 or similar truck, it ultimately disappoints. The independent rear eliminates truckish crashing and jiggling over bumps, but there’s an omnipresent nervousness over what seems to be perfectly acceptable pavement. That’s an unavoidable consequence of the Navigator’s body-on-frame truck construction, but the 22-inch wheels fitted to most Navigators aren’t helping the cause. At least it’s much quieter than any truck with a Ford badge, with a smidge of road noise from those big tires being the worst culprit of interior disturbances.

There are no disappointments under the hood. It’s as cool and quick as it sounds, as the Navigator rushes forward with a smooth, torquey ease free of its competitors’ truckish V8 roar. Given its weight, a 0-60 time south of 5.5 seconds seems reasonable. Roll the windows down to hear the turbo whooshing away, or leave them up and jam to the high-quality Revel audio system. Each will surprise and delight in different ways.

What more can I read about the Lincoln Navigator?

2018 Lincoln Navigator First Drive | From black sheep to flagship

Our first drive of the totally redesigned and hugely improved Lincoln Navigator.


2018 Lincoln Navigator Black Label Road Test | 900 miles in mid-century opulence

As a mobile office or a living room, this “Destination” Black Label with its exquisite red interior kept encouraging us to drive even further. 


2018 Lincoln Navigator Black Label Drivers’ Notes Review | American luxury

Our editorial staff goes for a spin in the top-shelf Black Label.


Lincoln Sync 3 Infotainment Review | Clean and eminently usable

We review the Lincoln-skinned version of Sync 3 in the Navigator.

What features are available and what’s the price?

The Navigator is available in three trim levels and two sizes. The trims are as follows: Standard, Reserve, Black Label.

Pricing for the Standard begins at $77,480, including the $1,295 destination charge. For this price, you get 20-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting all around, power-deploying running boards, tri-zone climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, power-folding seats, rain-sensing wipers, wireless charging pad and Lincoln’s suite of Co-Pilot360 driver assistance systems. You’re definitely not short changed. 

The Reserve and Black Label add on more indulgent creature comforts and enhanced style. We’ll list the prices for all models below, but you can check out the Navigator’s full list of various standard and optional features, along with specs and local pricing here on Autoblog.

  • Navigator Standard: $77,480
  • Navigator Reserve: $83,260
  • Navigator Black Label: $99,420
  • Navigator Reserve L: $86,485
  • Navigator Black Label L: $102,620

What are its safety equipment and crash ratings?

The 2020 Lincoln Navigator received a five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It received a full five-star rating in every category but rollover, where it earned four stars. The IIHS has not yet rated the latest generation of the Lincoln Navigator.

Lincoln makes its CoPilot360 group of driver assistance systems standard on the Navigator. The package includes automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams and blind-spot warning. Lincoln’s “Enhanced Active Park Assist” system also comes standard to help you into parallel parking spots. Adaptive cruise control is optional, and it includes a traffic jam assist that will bring the car to a full stop. However, it’s not paired with a true lane-centering steering assistance system that some of its competitors offer. That’s a shame to see at this price point.

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