War­ren Brown

The Washington Post Sunday - - AUTOMOTIVE - War­ren Brown war­ren.brown@wash­post.com

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.


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