Warren Brown shares his thoughts on the 2015 Lincoln Navigator.
new york — The full-size Lincoln Navigator sport-utility vehicle is an albatross in this city. That is not a petty complaint or a facile gibe. It is an inarguable fact. Space is a premium commodity here. The Navigator — more than 17 feet long and nearly seven feet wide — consumes more than the share normally allotted to individual passenger vehicles, most of which are at least one foot shy of that in both dimensions.
Here, you pay for the Navigator’s girth in parking garages, assuming you are allowed to park it at all. That is not hyperbole.
An attendant at the Weill Cornell Medical Center on the city’s East Side vigorously waved me away, warning me not to even try to put the Navigator in the facility’s garage. “Too big,” the attendant said. “Too long, too high, too wide. Won’t fit here. No, no, no!”
He suggested that I try another garage in the area. I did. That garage was willing to accommodate the Navigator for an additional $10 — a total of $38 for four hours.
You’d think, with that kind of treatment, that you would see very few Navigators, or vehicles like them, in New York City. Think again. They and comparably sized leviathans are all over the place. Lincoln Navigators, Chevrolet Suburbans, Toyota Land Cruisers, Mercedes-Benz M-Class models, Porsche Cayenne sport-utilities — if there is a manufacturer that can stick an engine into and put four wheels on a big vehicle, it is sold and driven here.
Empirically, in this super-congested metropolis, it makes little sense to have so many mobile giants running around. Life here is a continuous contest for space. Cars of all types and sizes challenge trucks, motor bikes and bicycles for a piece of the road. Vehicles of all types and sizes challenge pedestrians. The city is a motorized ceremony of self-entitlement, aggravated by a pedestrian culture that assumes right of way in all traffic matters.
Into this chaos, we add fullsize sport-utility vehicles such as the Navigator. Why?
I think it comes down to wanting what we want when we want it, even if it penalizes others for us to have it. In a space-challenged environment, we all want more space, even if we have to pay more to have it, even if having all we want deprives someone else of getting all they think they need.
If you can accept that, if you can understand it, you can accept and understand the Lincoln Navigator. It is a celebration of the maximum in luxury, cabin space and comfort. Once inside, you feel safe from the outside world. Indeed, you feel set aside from the real world and its many worries.
The Navigator’s cabin is wrapped in supple Dune leather. The ride height for drivers and passengers is high. You are above the traffic. You can see everything. It is a vision that gives you confidence on the highway in the company of 18wheelers.
But in the city, especially in peak driving times, you want to somehow magically shrink the Navigator. You feel as if you are in everyone’s way. And many fellow motorists are willing to enhance your ill feeling — cutting in front of you, passing you from the right, honking madly because they can’t see that you’ve stopped for a pedestrian blithely strolling in front of your big Navigator with cellphone to head.
Horsepower and handling are not primary concerns in driving the Navigator. The 3.5liter V- 6 gasoline engine (365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque) has enough oomph to move the nearly three-ton Navigator. A four-wheel independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bar eases handling in straightaways and moderate turns. Sharper curves must be taken with caution. The Navigator can be top-heavy in certain maneuvers.
But size is the big thing— literally. Driving the Navigator, especially in a congested urban environment, first and foremost, requires patience. And the argument will never be in your favor. You are bigger, much bigger, and automatically seen as the bully. Be patient, kind, forgiving. Let it go.