Though the Escalade has become the superstar posh-ute of our era, the Lincoln Navigator offers a similarly American take on great big luxury, capability and power. For drivers after generous towing capacity, sophistication, all-weather capability and luxurious space to spare, Navigator was a popular choice after helping to start the luxury SUV scene in the late nineties.
The last-generation model was available from 2007 to 2014, with standard power from a 5.4L V8 engine, automatic transmissions and four-wheel drive all around. Look for 310 hp, over 2,900L of total cargo space, and towing capacity of 9,000 pounds.
Feature content for this full-sized SUV included a THX audio system, power-adjustable pedals, power deployable running boards, navigation, parking assist, Bluetooth with full Sync connectivity for your smartphone, climate-controlled memory seating, a power tailgate, automatic climate control, rear-seat entertainment consoles and plenty more.
What Owners Like
Many owners rave about the quality feel of the interior of their Navigators, having appreciated the abundant use of leather, wood and chrome for an upscale atmosphere. Ride quality, especially on rough surfaces, a responsive engine and transmission team, and comfortable rear-row seating are all noted as well. Favourite features include the power tailgate, power-folding rear seats and THX stereo.
What Owners Dislike
As it tends to go with great big SUV models, the most common gripe relates to fuel consumption, and some owners complain that the power deploying running boards are sensitive to snow and ice buildup in the winter, and occasionally fail to work.
Here’s what some owners have to say.
The Test Drive
First off, shop a Navigator with a seller that’s willing to let you bring it to a mechanic (or meet you at a shop) for a pre-purchase inspection. You want to get your potential used Navigator candidate into the air for a full going over of its underside as a bare minimum. Have the mechanic check for signs of leaky axles and differentials, signs of excessive rust, floor-pan damage, corroded brake or fuel lines, and to take a look at the suspension and all accessible components for signs of wear.
If careless off-roading or frequent voyages down pothole-riddled roads have left bushings, sway-bar links or shocks in need of some attention, now’s the time to find out. Note that worn suspension components often generate clunking, clicking or popping noises audible from within the car on a test-drive, so be sure to kill the stereo and listen for them.
Confirm proper operation of all electronics and accessories, including the steering-wheel audio controls, motorized seat adjustments, seat heating and ventilation functions, the power tailgate, the folding rear seats, the navigation system, and anything else that runs on electricity. Be sure to triple-check the power adjustable pedals, and deployable running boards, which should pop out from under the doors, for proper operation. If they don’t, the solution could be as simple as a little squirt of WD40 on the door sensor, or something pricier.
Move to the back seat and confirm proper operation of the climate control system, checking that air of the selected temperature is blowing from the selected vents. Failure of the air conditioning system to pump cold air from the vents could be the result of leaky rear AC lines, and the lack of warm air is likely caused by a broken ‘blend door’, which controls the flow of air throughout the rear-seat climate control system. Fixing a broken blend door in the rear climate system of this generation Navigator is fairly easy. If a similar issue presents itself up front, it’s more complicated and pricey to remedy.
Check the front passenger floor and carpeting for signs of moisture, which could be caused by leaking condensation from the air conditioner system.
Shift the 4x4 system through its various modes several times, ensuring that each engages as outlined in the owner’s manual, and that no CHECK 4x4 or similar error messages pop up in the instrument cluster. Issues with the Navigator’s 4x4 system can be pricey to fix, and now’s your chance to make sure there isn’t a hefty repair bill in your future.
Though reported transmission troubles seem rare and sporadic in online forums, shoppers are advised to scrutinize the shift quality of their potential Navigator at light, moderate and full throttle. Any slipping, bucking or harsh shifting warrants further investigation. Ditto any fumbling for the correct gear. Some owners have reported fixing transmission-related issues with reprogramming of the transmission’s computer control module. Note that if you’re unclear on the service history of the model you’re considering, budget for a transmission fluid change, especially on higher-mileage units.
Interestingly, a bad rear wiper motor can fail to fully disengage when the Navigator is turned off, quickly draining the battery and resulting in a no-start condition. This problem looks rare, but is worth being aware of. Solutions include removal and repair of the motor, replacement of the motor, or simply yanking the fuse to the motor to prevent the current draw.
Finally, be sure to try the Navigator’s brakes several times. The pedal should feel firm, and stopping power or bite from the brakes should begin near the top of the pedal’s travel. If the brakes feel soft or spongy, have a mechanic take a closer look. Some owners have reported air seepage into the brake system, which will require some attention.
This generation of Lincoln’s popular Navigator looks to be fairly solid as a used vehicle buy – with most commonly reported problems being simple to identify on a test-drive, or during a pre-purchase inspection by a Ford or Lincoln mechanic. Have the dealer run the vehicle’s VIN number to check for any outstanding recall work, and budget for a full fluid-change on higher-mileage used units for maximum peace of mind. A used Navigator with a clean bill of health should put owners at the wheel of an affordable used luxury SUV noted for comfort, capability and sophistication.
A list of recalls.