I remember like it was yesterday, when I climbed inside the then-newly launched Lincoln Navigator at the 2017 New York Auto Show. It was one of the best in show with its modern and elegant exterior and a plush cabin with a new design language that we had only seen in the concept the year before. More than anything, the Navigator marked a new era in American luxury. Instead of copying what the European and Asian car brands were doing, Lincoln came up with its own formula.
The Navigator has been around for the past three years, but it seems like it hasn’t aged a bit. In fact, the small updates Lincoln adopted have helped improve its flagship SUV. It keeps impressing us with its astonishing cabin, technology and safety updates, and a new monochromatic package. There’s no doubt the Navigator continues to rule with authority.
2020 Lincoln Navigator: What Has Changed?
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Lincoln added more standard features to the 2020 Navigator to make it more compelling. The base model now has the adaptive suspension and power running boards as standard equipment. The adaptive suspension is a big win for 2020, as it improves the ride significantly. On the technology side, Phone as a Key is now standard on Navigator, allowing the driver to literally use a personal smartphone as a key—locking, unlocking and starting the engine all from the phone.
2020 Lincoln Navigator: American Luxury
Open the doors, and a sea of black leather and wood will welcome you into the cabin. Everywhere you look and everywhere you touch, there’s a premium feel to the interior. From the floating screen to the full digital display in the instrument cluster, the 2020 Navigator delivers a first-class experience. Although I’m not a huge fan of combinations like black leather with brown wood, this interior is the exception. The chrome accents add to the clean look of the center console, and the blacked-out instrument panel adds to the affluent ambiance.
Our Reserve model sits between the base trim and the Black Label, but with the 30-way Perfect Position seats and the Revel premium audio system with 20 speakers, it ups the wow factor. These two features are part of the Luxury package, which adds $2,500 to the price, but every penny is worth it. The seats are extremely comfortable, and the audio system will have you singing your favorite songs without feeling embarrassed.
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Compared to other models in its class, the Navigator really stands out. Although the 2021 Cadillac Escalade looks like it will give the Navigator a battle, the Lincoln is far superior to the Infiniti QX80 and the Lexus LX 570. Newer models like the BMW X7 and the Mercedes-Benz GLS give the Lincoln a good fight, but the Navigator stands out with its greater value and outstanding proportions.
2020 Lincoln Navigator: Ride and Handling
Handling is not a big priority for full-size SUVs, but the Navigator delivers. Powered by a 3.5-liter twin turbo V-6 that produces 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, this big Lincoln feels healthy all the way around. Its 10-speed automatic is quick to downshift, and the upshifts are done smoothly. Press down the throttle and the engine will get the Navigator up to speed effortlessly. Despite its large size, the Lincoln feels confident and doesn’t disappoint when pressed hard.
Although we didn’t get to try it this time, our Navigator came equipped with four-wheel drive, allowing this beast to cruise through dirty trails. A drive mode selector makes it easy to choose the correct mode depending on the conditions you’re driving in. The modes include Slippery, Excite, Conserve, Deep Conditions, Snow, and Normal. Each mode is programmed to change the throttle mapping, transmission behavior, and the suspension and stability control responses. Our week in the Navigator had no rain, but we were able to test its performance off-road during our 2019 SUV of the Year program.
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Our model was equipped with the 22-inch monochromatic wheels, which look excellent in the black trim. But there’s bad news: The ride becomes a bit busier with them. The broken pavement causes harsh impacts in the cabin when traversing poor quality LA freeways. Still, the adaptive suspension does a reasonable job isolating the cabin from the impacts the low-profile tires are sending it. On tight turns, the 2020 Navigator’s big body doesn’t feel as large; its chassis leans in nicely without disturbing the ride.
Although its steering is light, it still delivers a nice feedback of what’s happening on the road. You don’t feel like you’re driving a big body-on-frame SUV, and its relatively small turning circle will allow you to make most U-turns without backing up.
2020 Lincoln Navigator: Safety
With Lincoln Co-Pilot360, every Navigator comes standard with key safety technologies like adaptive cruise control with stop and go traffic, rear view camera, etc. But for 2020, Lincoln is adding auto high beams, blind-spot detection with cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and a rear view camera washer to Co-Pilot360.
2020 Lincoln Navigator: Should I Buy It?
The Navigator keeps impressing us. Although it’s been around for three years, its style, driving manners, and value within its segment get our attention. As a family luxury SUV, the Navigator brings a ton of standard features that make it attractive. And with its mid-century modern cabin, premium leather, and spacious cabin, it’s an enticing offering.
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