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(08:43 June 11, 2002)
2003 Lincoln Navigator
More, but also better


By ROGER HART


When Lincoln launched Navigator in 1997 the vehicle was the first player in the full-size luxury SUV segment. Since that time, the field has gotten crowded with trucks from Cadillac, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes. Formidable competition, to be sure.

Navigator has held its own in the high-end SUV marketplace, commanding a whopping 40 percent share. Engineers in charge of Navigator’s first major redesign had to create an almost all-new vehicle while not messing up a good thing. But wholesale changes were called for to defend its position.

Lincoln engineers had to dial in Ford global chief of product development Richard Parry-Jones’ “driving dynamics DNA” initiative, which demands high standards for ride and handling characteristics—even though Navigator is a body-on-frame truck.

So, while the 2003 Navigator boasts several new features, it is the ride and handling that improve most significantly. Does it handle like the rear-drive, body-on-frame Town Car that, like Navigator, is all-new for ’03? Not exactly, but several driving characteristics are close, especially steering feel.

To meet the driving dynamics target, Lincoln engineers employ a new rack-and-pinion steering system and four-wheel independent suspension. They say they stiffened the torsional rigidity of the chassis by 70 percent over last year’s model using hydroformed steel frame rails. In driving the 2002 model and the 2003 on the same roads back-to-back, the reduction in noise, vibration and harshness in the new truck is significant. The suspension absorbs much more of the bumps, transferring very little harshness back into the cabin. You’ll never mistake the handling for that of a BMW X5, but within the parameters of interstate cruising and cross-country towing, the Navigator is nimbler than before.

The front doors and roof are unchanged, and the distinctive chrome Lincoln grille has been retained, but the rest of the exterior is fresh. The ’03’s hoodline is four inches higher than the previous-generation while the bumper is two inches lower, better for car-to-truck crash compatibility, Lincoln engineers say.

Beneath the new hood resides what may prove to be Navigator’s Achilles’ heel: the 5.4-liter dohc V8, a carryover from the previous model. While the engine produces 300 hp and 355 lb-ft, a truck this big begs for more power. When stacked up against the 6.0-liter V8 in the Cadillac Escalade that produces 345 hp and 380 lb-ft, the Navigator feels downright anemic, especially noticeable at launch, although both vehicles claim 8500 pounds of towing capacity.

There is a possible engine fix on the way. The Navigator’s engine bay will accommodate Ford’s Triton V10 (used in the Excursion, among others), along with all of its 305 hp and (more importantly) 420 lb-ft of torque. Several V10-equipped Navigators are cruising Dearborn right now, and while the horsepower gain is minimal, the V10’s stump-pulling torque will make all the difference. Lincoln folks, keen to sell V8 models, are mum about when—or if—the V10 will be offered for sale, so we can’t advise you to wait for it. But if your need for a new truck isn’t urgent, it’s something to think about.

The high-end luxury vehicle segment demands bells and whistles and the ’03 Navigator doesn’t disappoint, with optional power-deployable running boards, power-folding third-row seats and a power liftgate. The second-row seats can be ordered with two low-back buckets or a three-passenger, 40/20/40 split bench with a center sliding section, good for kids in car seats.

When Navigator’s redesign began almost three years ago, Lincoln marketing folks were chanting the “American Luxury” mantra, so designers looked to the marque’s heritage for inspiration. (“American Luxury” has been jettisoned, replaced by “There are those who travel and those who travel well.” Go figure.) They went back to an American luxury icon, the 1961 Lincoln Continental, for design cues for the dash. The broad, symmetrical design has been updated with modern finishes. The interior, flush with leather and wood, is accented by more than 120 white LED lights, giving it a warm, soft glow.

Navigators are on sale now with prices starting at $48,775 for a 4x2 model; 4x4 models command at least $52,325.

In a segment where sometimes more is simply more, the ’03 Navigator strives to make the case that more can also be better.
 

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The high-end luxury vehicle segment demands bells and whistles and the ’03 Navigator doesn’t disappoint, with optional power-deployable running boards, power-folding third-row seats and a power liftgate.
Am I crazy or does the explosion of motorized do-dads remind anyone else of the TAIL-FIN craze of the 50's. If you can't compete with quality, reliability, or a better design, then for god's sake, through on SOME type of geegaw.
 

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Re: Re: New Navagator

donsev said:


Am I crazy or does the explosion of motorized do-dads remind anyone else of the TAIL-FIN craze of the 50's. If you can't compete with quality, reliability, or a better design, then for god's sake, through on SOME type of geegaw.
Close but you are off by a decade. ;)
They went back to an American luxury icon, the 1961 Lincoln Continental...
Chris
 

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I took a test drive in a Lincoln Navigator 3 months ago and was not very impressed. The way it handled, ride, brakes, and steering reminded me of my 10 year old GMC 4WD P/U. It was a 2001 (New) and was priced $12000 below MSRP but I was not in the least bit interested.

Took a test drive in a used MDX (2001, 18000 miles) the last few days of April and .......
 

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Re: Re: Re: New Navagator

MGTD said:


Close but you are off by a decade. ;)


Chris
Huh?

100 Years of Design

In about 1947, Harley Earl, head of GM styling since 1927, was inspired by the P-38's tail-fins, and incorporated similar dual fins on an experimental concept convertible which would in 1951 be publicly exhibited and called "Le Sabre". It sported a "jet" intake and the first true, curved, wrap-around windshield, under development by Libbey-Owens-Ford since 1946. The LeSabre design was worked on by Homer LaGassey and named after the North American F-86 Sabre fighter jet just put into service in the Korean War. The design set GM styling trends for many years. Curved windshields appeared on 1954 production models of Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. The name "LeSabre" was adopted by Buick in 1961 and was still in use in 1995, with jet intake still evident.

However, Earl was so enthralled with the twin fin concept on the "LeSabre" drawing boards, that he decided to put smaller versions of the fins on the 1948 Cadillac, about to be finalized for production.


In 1951, of course, General Motors publicly exhibited the "LeSabre" with great fanfare, and the concept of car fins was catapulted to the front pages of the automotive world. By the mid-1950s, Most GM cars had fins, and Chrysler was pretty much forced to follow the popular trend.
I guess this time, Chrylser launches the power rear hatch on the Grand Caravan and now FORD is following suit.
 
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