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2005 Lincoln Navigator 4 x 4

Comfort Zone

Lincoln packs a ton of luxury features into an SUV that can pull more than 4 tons.

The Navigator we sampled in June 2003 priced out at $61,335, laden in the finest trim. The 2005 model we just tested was almost identically equipped and came with an MSRP of $64,130. Inflation aside, what do you get for the higher sticker? You be the judge.

Improvements for 2005 included a new three-valve single-overhead cam engine, which offered the same 300 horsepower as the ’03 model we tested, but 10 more pound-feet of torque, 365 in all. The engine still requires 91-octane fuel, which is a bummer, but we did experience better fuel mileage with the 2005 model. With a trailer latched to the bumper for the whole week, we netted about 12.5 mpg on average, at least according to the on-board computer in the overhead console.

Part of that improved mileage may have stemmed from a new ZF six-speed automatic transmission. Yes, six speeds, the fifth and sixth of which are overdriven at .87:1 and .69:1 respectively. Shifts are perceptible, but they are smooth and quick, even with an 8,000-pound boat and trailer. Ford literature says it’s the same transmission used in Jaguar’s XJ sedan.

Other mechanical changes include a new stability system, called AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability, which is standard, and high-intensity discharge headlamps, an option. Despite the rainy conditions, the stability program never became necessary. Our test model also was equipped with the HID lamps and they made a huge difference in nighttime visibility. We couldn’t help thinking we were blinding other drivers, but if the Department of Transportation approved them, they must be OK, right?

We did make good use of the vehicle’s braking system, which performs well under a number of conditions. We’ve driven trucks with better feel, but the Navigator’s brakes offered nice linear power. Antilock worked smoothly and quietly under threshold and panic stops.
Lincoln served up a few more changes for 2005, in the form of 18-inch “euro-flange” wheels, whatever that means, and an improved tire-pressure monitoring system. In terms of aesthetics, the Navigator features newly designed front fascia, grille, body side moldings and the standard running boards.

Our model came with the power running boards, which lowered when you opened the door, then tucked up and in when you close it. For anyone taller than 6 feet, they’re not of much use. To Lincoln’s credit, it gave the driver the ability to switch them off through menu options on the information center on the dashboard.

The Navigator is now offered in four new exterior colors and one new interior hue. Our test model was painted in one of the new tones, light tundra, a pale metallic green that is becoming popular and cars and trucks alike, import and domestic.

Like the last model we tested, the Navigator’s interior materials exuded quality and felt as though they would last longer than the payment book, which, at $63K, could be plenty thick. Seats were covered in rich leather and equipped with heating and cooling systems. Heat was supplied by electrical elements just beneath the covers and the cooling system actually forced air through the perforated leather. Both features worked well and the seats were about as comfortable as you’ll find. They offered high, deep backs and lots of leg, and back support.

The truck was equipped with the same air-adjustable coil-over monotube shock suspension system, with a short- and long-arm setup in the front and an independent rear axle out back. Together, they provided a best-in-class ride on the highway. Flawed stretches of concrete freeway didn’t disturb cabin occupants, which also points to a nice stiff cabin structure.

With a trailer in tow, the adjustable air suspension system kept the truck at a level attitude, so it never felt light in the front despite pulling very near its towing capacity. If Lincoln really wanted to take it over the top and create a world-class leader, it would offer the suspension with an active mode. It already comes with variable-assist power steering, so wouldn’t it be nifty if the Navigator lowered itself at freeway speeds for greater stability and stiffened up during cornering?

On the freeway, the truck cruised at 60 mph at a mere 1,600 rpm in sixth gear. With the shifter notched over into fourth gear—there is no gate for fifth gear—the rpm bumped up to 1,800 rpm. Despite what the shifter indicated, it was difficult to tell whether it really was fourth gear. Either way, 1,800 rpm on the freeway is a paltry engine speed for truck with a 3.73:1 rear axle.

With six gears from which to choose, you might think the transmission would exhibit the “busyness” that engineers have struggled with in modern automatic gearboxes. The good news is that the engineers won. The ZF six-speed had no such tendencies, with or without a boat in tow.

Though it tows the load admirably, we can’t help but think a good old-fashioned live axle would be better suited for years of trouble-free service. What with the air suspension and electronic controls, we’d hate to find ourselves at a shallow ramp at which we were forced to back the truck into the saltwater to get a boat off-loaded.

However, the Navigator did have the luxury features that many of today’s buyers want. For example, it did come with a navigation system capable of voice input, a six-disc in-dash CD changer, a power sunroof and a power liftgate. The gate didn’t feel any more solidly engineered than the previous model we tested, but we can’t dispute how handy it was. Pop a button on the dash and it opens completely. Tug it down a bit and it lowers and locks itself.

One feature it didn’t have that it really screams for is a telescoping steering wheel. The tilt range was respectable, but with the driver seat powered all the way aft, the driver’s arms were nearly fully extended, which isn’t ideal for optimal control and comfort.
It was surprising to see how much luxury Lincoln engineers and designers could pack into an SUV capable of pulling 8,300 pounds. If you place much emphasis on the creature comforts in your truck, the Navigator could be the right call. You be the judge.

SPECIFICATIONS

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
City... NA
Highway... NA

ACCELERATION
0-60 towing...  22.27 seconds
40-60 towing... 11.35 seconds
0-60 non-towing... 10.42 seconds
40-60 non-towing... 5.89 seconds

POWERTRAIN
Engine... 5.4-liter three-valve SOHC V-8
Horsepower... 300 @ 5000 rpm
Torque...  365 pound-feet @ 3750 rpm
Compression ratio...  9.5:1
Transmission... ZF six-speed electronic automatic

CHASSIS
Axle ratio... 3.73:1
Fuel capacity... 28 gallons
Tire size... P255-70R-18
Brakes... four-wheel disc with antilock
Suspension...  Front: dual A-arm with coil over monotube shock; Rear: independent with coil over monotube shock.

WEIGHTS
Curb weight... 5,842 pounds
Tow rating... 8,300 pounds
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating... 7,450 pounds
Gross Combined Weight Rating... 12,200 pounds

DIMENSIONS
Overall length... 207.5"
Maximum width... 78.7"
Wheelbase... 118.8"

Base price...$56,290
Price as tested... $64,130

TRAILER TOWED
Formula 271 FAS3Tech
8,000 lbs.

INFORMATION
Customer service... 800-392-3673
Web site... www.lincoln.com

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