Reminiscent of board-room seats, the leather perches proved quite comfortable during long hours spent traversing the arid desert landscape. After a decadent day spent in Vegas, the family circus drove to America's favorite secret military base, Area 51. The recently rain-eroded 13-mile dirt road leading to the main gate provided an opportunity to test the behemoth's low-traction abilities.
After setting up for pictures, armed guards began approaching (probably something to do with the "no photography" sign), so we naturally removed the Motor Trend license plate and headed for pavement. Driving through a loose-sand washout, we rotated the dash-mounted Control Trac dial to engage the automatic four-wheel-drive mode, permitting us to hastily retreat without incident. Although 54 percent of surveyed owners report never driving on a dirt road, 8.8 percent do so more than three weeks a month. The numbers break down to show that the Nav is venturing off-pavement frequently, with 17.6 percent claiming they tackle trails with their big SUV. Of those adventurous types, 87.3 percent rated off-road performance as above average, and we found the Navigator to be quite effective when the Men In Black were on our tail.
Moving on to Arizona, the comfort-enhancing benefits of the overly assisted steering and lux-tuned suspension were apparent, for the Navigator doesn't beat up riders as most trucks will on day-long trips. Although fuel economy averaged a meager 13.1 mpg, the immense 30-gallon gas tank still permitted upwards of 400 miles per fill up. Trouble-free and perfectly suited for our multi-faceted journey, the Navigator created a truckload of converts during that week.
Over the year, the constantly moving sport/ute paused for a few brief dealer servicings. Beyond manufacturer recommended work, the Nav received warranty-sponsored attention to resolve an ABS warning light issue and stubborn brake light problem.
Any way you slice it, the Navigator is a huge machine blurring the lines between traditional truck and luxury sedan. A true do-it-all vehicle well-suited to shuttling duties, impromptu exploration, and ideal vacation cruiser, with its biggest shortcomings being in a parking lot and at the fuel pump.
As value seekers, we'd enter the Ford showroom before the Lincoln one when shopping. However, successful professionals can waltz right into their local Lincoln dealer and purchase 2-3/4 -tons of luxury and status with the muscle to tackle the demands of hard-core recreation and active family.