Long ago, Cadillac won the hearts of customizers by aspiring to a high-end look, which prompted some jaded enthusiasts to search for an alternative that would make them stand out from the crowd of Caddy clips. But wouldn't you know it, just as people started putting Navigator clips on their trucks and SUVs, Lincoln had to redesign that vehicle-and its front end-for the '07 model year. Gone was the wide, elegantly styled grille that was marked by its vertical lines. The new, more assertive grille looks skinnier and has a more prominent horizontal style. "Wariness" characterized the first impression of that grille for some of our staff members, although a couple have reported that the design has come to grow on them.

Sharing a platform with the redesigned Ford Expedition and Ford Expedition EL, the new Lincoln Navigator and its "L" stretched version share a lot of the technical characteristics of the Expedition that we have covered before. The Ford Expedition won our SUV of the Year, and we are driving an EL model for a long-term evaluation. We have to admit, we like the Expedition's maxed-out trim level, but the Lincoln Navigator manages to differentiate itself with distinctive interior styling and cushy leather seats. The dash of the Navigator exhibits a concavity in front of the driver and passenger, which is anchored by a flat center stack for an analog clock, navigation unit, HVAC controls, and etc. The dash's strong vertical presentation definitely caught our eye, as did the almost old-skool horizontal arrangement of some of the gauges in the instrument cluster, though they tend to be difficult to read quickly.

Really, this is not an understated vehicle. It does not aspire to the European ideal of understated elegance, nor adhere to the Japanese approach of luxurious blandness. It's not garish, but it does try for a bolder statement that is in line with Ford's interpretation of American styling that is distinctive from Cadillacs.

We liked the white chocolate body paint and stone-colored interior. The powered lift gate and powered fold-flat seats-both shared with the Expedition-are great conveniences for luxury-minded users whose arms are full of over-laden shopping bags from a spree on Rodeo Drive; or even for editors muscling a couple of boxes of brakes into the rear cargo area. Unfortunately, an aesthetically imposing, blocky, silver-colored rearseat DVD component hangs from the ceiling, and is begging to be hidden somehow behind the headliner. Some of the underwhelming buttons and switches looked like what they were...silver-colored plastic. The Navigator's stiff steering and long brake pedal travel work fine, but they left something to be desired, and the 5.4L hardly felt sporty, although the Pirelli Scorpions did sharpen the vehicle's attitude somewhat. The cabin sounded quiet when the vehicle was up to speed, except for some noticeable-but not necessarily distracting-wind noise at the A-pillars. Overall, the SUV rode like a stately yacht that handled best on auto pilot. Going on a road trip? Just point it straight down the freeway, turn on cruise control, and pass the caviar.

Price (as tested)
$58,095 without destination (base $50,655, options $7,440)
4-year, 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty
6-year, 70,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and roadside assistance

Engine
5.4L Triton V-8

Horsepower
300 at 5,000 rpm SAE

Torque (lb-ft)
365 at 3,750 rpm

Transmission
Six-speed automatic

Drivetrain
4WD

Axle Ratio
3.73

Suspension
Independent, double-wishbone, short- and long-arms design with coilover shocks, stabilizer bar (front); Independent, multi-link design with coilover shocks, stabilizer bar (rear)

Brakes
350mm rotor (front), 342mm rotor (rear), 4-wheel ABS, traction/stability control with rollover mitigation

Wheelbase
119 in

Turning (Curb-to-Curb)
40.83 ft

Height
78.3 in

Width
78.8 in

Approach Angle
22.4 deg

Departure Angle
21.7 deg

Ramp-Over Angle
19.2 deg

Minimum Ground Clearance
9 in

Curb Weight
6,070 lb

Max Trailer Weight
8,750 lb

Payload
1,650 lb