2023 Lincoln Navigator Review

2023 Lincoln Navigator - Old school luxury meets new school technology in the best of ways.


It's hard to imagine a time when the roads weren't adorned with large SUVs and trucks, but it was only 25 years ago that the SUV craze really started to take off. In 1997 Lincoln was one of the first to introduce a full-size luxury SUV with the Navigator. It quickly became a hit with celebrities along with Cadillac's Escalade. The Navigator has carried on since then through four generations with the most recent overhaul taking place for 2018. It received a mid-cycle refresh for 2022 with exterior, interior, and technology updates. It carries over into 2023 unchanged.  The Navigator shares a platform with the Ford Expedition and is built in Louisville, Kentucky.

There are three primary trims known as Standard, Reserve, and Black Label. Additionally, both the Reserve and Black Label can be had as long wheelbase versions known as L with an additional 12" of cargo room.  All models come with a twin-turbocharged 3.5L V6 engine that generates 440 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque. All mate to a 10-speed automatic transmission and are available with rear or four-wheel drive. For 2023, prices start at $79,725 for the Standard and climb up to $112,300 for a Black Label L. I spent a week in a Black Label that checked in at $107,050 and here's what stood out...

Exterior (+/-)
The Navigator is unmistakable as it arrives with an updated signature grille and front fascia that exudes luxury with chrome for days. Standard adaptive pixel projector headlamps provide a new lighting signature giving it a more modern feel. The side profile remains a boxy template with clean, simple lines. A power sidestep folds into the rocker panel when not in use to maintain a clean look and will automatically drop down as you approach the SUV or open the doors. Chrome accent strips at the bottom of the doors and windows give it an added touch of luxury.  Around back, new 3D LED taillamps stretch across the hatch and fade from the center out upon welcome and out to the center upon farewell for a more dynamic look in its lighting. Lincoln is spelled out across the back in black on the Black Label or chrome in other models. Overall, it's a very standard, yet elegant looking SUV with balanced proportions from all angles. Stylistically, Lincoln plays it safe compared to competitors like the Lexus LX and Wagoneer which have more flare.

Wheels (+)
Across the Navigator lineup are a few different wheel designs. Standard models come with 20' bright-machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets. Reserve models get 22" bright-machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets and a different styling to them. And Black Labels get 22" 14-spoke bright-machined aluminum wheels with Ebony black painted pockets. All designs look good when parked but are exemplified when they are in motion. The Navigator appears to glide across the road as these directional wheels spin giving it a very cool look.

Power (+)
Under the hood is a 3.5L turbocharged V6 engine that generates 440 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is powerful with quick acceleration that will take it from 0-60 in approximately 5.6 seconds. The 10-speed automatic smoothly shifts through gears to deliver a more athletic performance than anticipated. It was quick to merge onto the highway and provided plenty of passing power once cruising.  The result is a smooth and powerful ride.

With all that power, the Navigator is also highly capable and can tow up to 8,700 pounds.  The heavy-duty trailer tow package also adds trailer reverse guidance, which uses high-resolution cameras to provide multiple views along with steering guidance graphics to assist in backing up and maneuvering a trailer. The technology works with pro-trailer backup assist to make backing up a trailer or boat as effortless as turning a dial.

Handling (+/-)
While the power is definitely there, its agility is limited by the sheer size and weight of the SUV.  Steering is on the softer side as you seem to turn the wheel more than needed. There is body-lean around tight turns, but it also feels appropriately balanced and composed. Around town, the Navigator is easy to handle as it smoothly rounds corners and transitions from braking. Road noise is kept to a minimum in most situations. There are five standard drive modes that include normal, excite, conserve, slippery, deep conditions, and an additional slow climb mode available on 4x4 models equipped with the heavy-duty trailer tow package. It also comes with an Adaptive Suspension with Road Preview which works to ensure a smooth ride. Body movements and vehicle motion, as well as steering, acceleration, and braking activities, are constantly monitored by 12 sensors. It's very comfortable to drive both around town and on the highway.

ActiveGlide Hands Free Driving (+)
Lincoln ActiveGlide is the new hands-free driver-assist technology that debuted on the new Navigator. ActiveGlide is the next level beyond adaptive cruise control and is the same as Ford's BlueCruise. The system includes automatic stop-and-go in traffic, lane centering, and speed sign recognition. The system is intuitive and worked extremely well, making the Navigator an even more ideal vehicle for a long commute or trip. Signature blue light cues appear on the digital cluster and head-up display to indicate when the system's advanced camera and radar are activated, enabling drivers to operate hands-free on prequalified sections of divided highways. Hands-Free Blue Zones include more than 130,000 miles of dedicated highways across North America in the Lincoln GPS mapping system. A driver-facing camera in the instrument cluster monitors eye gaze and head position to help ensure a driver's eyes stay on the road. I used the system frequently around Chicagoland and into Northwest Indiana without any issues. The system would recognize when there were no lines on the road and require hands on the wheel. Additionally, hands were required in areas such as toll booths across highways. It was beyond impressive in traffic heading into Chicago in which the Navigator accurately maintained its location and smoothly adjusted to stop-and-go traffic better than I could. A simple touch of the button to activate and follow instructions is all you need to do, check out the YouTube video for a demo.

Fuel Economy (+/-)
If you're buying this vehicle, fuel economy may not be at the top of your concerns, but if it is, the Navigator actually does better than some of the competition. When it arrived with a full 23.6-gallon tank it offered a range of around 425 miles. EPA estimates are 16/22/18 MPG city/highway/combined. After a week of driving a total of 550 miles, I averaged 16 MPG. As a bonus, it does run on regular unleaded fuel.

Comfort (+)
Hopping inside, Lincoln has created an upscale space surrounded by premium materials with a clean, sophisticated design. The layout features a large touchscreen at the center of the dash flanked by genuine wood accents. The natural wood is themed for different interior packages that include walnut for Central Park, khaya for Invitation, silverwood for Chalet, and white-washed teak for the Yacht Club. Espresso ash swirl and santos rosewood are integrated in Standard and Reserve models. The mix of materials and leather all work together to form a comfortable, serene cabin.

Just looking at the seats, you can tell they are comfortable. There is a variety of seating options that include Venetian leather seating surfaces inside Lincoln Black Label models, premium leather seating surfaces on Reserve and Lincoln Soft-Touch seats on Standard models. There is plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room in all three rows. Access to the third row is also easy by folding forward one of the middle row captain's chairs. The optimal place to sit though, is in the first two rows where Lincoln now offers massaging seats in all four spots. The active motion massage settings offer a variety of options to choose from and each seat can be individually controlled. These seats are also heated and ventilated. Additionally, 30-way power adjustability to the front seats allows you to find the perfect position and comfort.

Finally, Available on the Navigator is an extra-large panoramic vista roof which provides a lot of natural light inside.  The roof includes a large opening as well as a sunshade as needed.  The open, airy vibe in the Navigator provides the ultimate in passenger comfort.

Technology (+)
The hub for technology is within the 13.2" touchscreen at the center of the dash. Lincoln's infotainment system wirelessly integrates with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa while also providing navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot, satellite radio and six USB ports. The large screen is clear and easy to navigate utilizing Ford's SYNC 4 system. The system is responsive with intuitive menus for adjusting controls. Also within this screen is the 360-degree camera that provides a bird's eye view of your surroundings. The cameras all around the Navigator provide a variety of perspectives to generate this seamless display and provide clear visuals for the driver.

Located just below the touchscreen and air vents is Lincoln's piano key shifter which blends right into the dash design. Chrome buttons are for park, reverse, neutral, and driver are tastefully designed and easy to reach. As you sit back and relax with the massaging seats and ActiveGlide semi-autonomous driving, you'll have a clear view of the head-up display that is projected on the windshield. Drivers have the option to customize this display data from standard driving information to the intelligent adaptive cruise control settings, lane-keep system info, and more. Details such as the miles until empty graphic, outside temperature, and clock are all included in the head-up display.

Rounding out the technology inside is a Revel Ultima 3D Audio System which provides three custom listening modes and 28 speakers throughout the cabin. The sound is crisp with good acoustics from the front to the back. Overall, it provides all the technology you need without any kitschy bonus features. Consider the Wagoneer if you want something with cool (but unnecessary) features like hidden storage, extra screens, and a relaxing ambiance mode with a digital fireplace.

Cargo Area (+)
Standard wheelbase Navigators offer between 19.3 and 20.9 cubic feet of space behind the third row and between 57.5 and 63.6 cubic feet behind the second row. With all the rear seats folded, the max capacity is 103 cubic feet. Step up to the extended wheelbase and get even more space. Behind the third row there is between 34.3 and 36 cubic feet of room, and there's 73.3 to 79.6 cubic feet behind the second row. With both of those rows folded, the maximum cargo space is 120.2 cubic feet.

Both the second and third row seats can be folded at the touch of a button. These power seats make it very convenient to lower or raise as needed. Worth noting that the center console in between the second-row seats cannot be moved so you may want to keep that in mind when hauling large items to ensure that the screen is protected. Navigator also comes with a hands-free power liftgate for easy loading.

Safety (+)
Navigator has the most standard and available driver-assist technologies in its class with Lincoln's Co-Pilot 360 2.0. New standard features include:
* Intersection Assist: Navigator can alert a driver attempting to turn left by applying the brakes when camera and radar technology detects oncoming traffic.
* Active Park Assist 2.0: The latest iteration of park-assist technologies - Active Park Assist 2.0 offers Park Out Assist with side-sensing capability so drivers can confidently navigate out of a spot when someone is parked too close.
Additional standard features include Forward Collision Warning, Post Collision Braking, Distance Alert, Dynamic Brake Support, Pedestrian Detection, Auto Hold, hill start assist, automatic headlamps, Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation and Phone as a Key.

Final Statement:
The Navigator name has some history and deep roots in the luxury SUV segment to live up to. Its recent refresh provides all the updates it needed to remain a top contender in this segment. I really enjoyed driving it and felt very comfortable doing so. It has plenty of power for around town and on the highway. The luxury amenities like open wood surfaces, leather seats, and massaging seats provided a calm atmosphere inside. And hands down, the most impressive feature was the ActiveGlide hand's free driving capability that made rush hour commutes relaxing.  I also have spent time in the Wagoneer (and liked it a lot), but I think I'm team Navigator in an overall comparison.

First Impression Summary:
Test Vehicle: 2022 Lincoln Navigator Black Label

Powertrain: 3.5L twin turbocharged V6
Exterior Color: Chrome Caviar Dark Gray Metallic
Interior Color: Invitation Theme
Options: Equipment Group 800A ($1,750), 2nd Row Captain Chairs with Massage ($625)
MSRP as Tested: $107,050 (with freight & handling)

Jim OBrill

Jim is Director of Marketing for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show and a co-host of Drive Chicago Radio on WLS 890 AM Chicago. His passion for cars started young and he’s often referred to as the ‘car-guy’ among family and friends. As a former auto detailer, he has an eye for identifying solid used cars and tags along on many car buying adventures. Early in his career he worked at several car dealerships in various areas of the business. As a co-host on Drive Chicago and member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, Jim has had opportunities to attend track school and drive vehicles on multiple circuits such as Road America and Gingerman Raceway. With a background in photography, taking pictures of vehicles has always been a hobby.

Jim also enjoys the trails and taking trucks like his 4Runner off road. He has a special appreciation for older cars and can often be found spending free time at cruise nights or home washing one his four vehicles. Jim resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three kids. Follow Jim on Instagram at @jpcars22 for new vehicle content or @forgotten_survivors.312 for shots of older cars still on the streets of Chicagoland.