Weighing in at 5994 lb, our test Navigator stole the spotlight on the autocross course. Through sharp turns, cornering on wet pavement, emergency lane changes, and sudden braking, the Navigator shined bright.

The superior ride and handling are the result of significant chassis work, including four-wheel independent suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, and 18-in. wheels. The Navigator's new, fully boxed, hydroformed frame is 70 percent torsionally stiffer and 67 percent stiffer in vertical bending. A dual-rate brake booster has been added to automatically supply full braking power in a panic stop, even if the driver doesn't apply enough pressure to engage the anti-lock brakes.

The Navigator's optional ControlTrac four-wheel-drive system offers four driving modes. In "Auto 4x4," the system monitors front and rear driveshaft speeds as well as throttle position, anticipating wheel slippage, redirecting torque before traction is lost. When paired with the optional traction and stability system, it can pull itself from an obstacle with only one tire. A 5.4L DOHC V-8 engine produces 300 hp at 5000 rpm and 355 lb-ft of torque at 2750 rpm. With 90 percent of peak torque available from 1750 to 4700 rpm, the Navigator performed well as it negotiated mountain passes and during higher-speed passing. Towing capacity is rated at 8300 lb for the 4x4 model and 8500 lb for the 4x2 model.

In addition, the 2003 Navigator now features an air suspension that lowers the vehicle 1 in. when parked, optional power running boards, and an aluminum power liftgate. Inside, second-row bench or bucket seating are available, while the 60/40-split third row folds flat to the floor and also includes an optional power-folding feature.