The Lincoln Navigator, the luxury brand’s flagship SUV, is getting an extensive makeover for 2022, though you’ll have to slip inside the cabin to catch most of the updates.
The primary emphasis is on new technology, including ActiveGlide, Lincoln’s new hands-free driving system, as well as the integration of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and smartphone-style over-the-air update capabilities. Exterior design changes are modest, but the 2022 Lincoln Navigator will feature two new Black Label themes, including one that pays homage to New York’s Central Park.
While by no means the highest-volume product in the Lincoln line-up, Navigator is, nonetheless, one of the brand’s most important products, drawing in both its youngest and most affluent customers. So, said Joy Falotico, Lincoln’s president, “The new Navigator will continue to play a critical role in differentiating our brand and will welcome even more new clients to Lincoln.”
An early game-changer
Navigator was originally introduced in 1997 as a ’98 model. With its imposing presence and focus on luxury, it took a sharp detour from the function-over-form SUVs of its day. The response was extremely positive, the Navigator winning honors as North American Car of the Year during its debut season. And it remained the best-selling nameplate in its class for the next decade.
But Navigator eventually lost momentum in what would become a fast-growing full-size luxury SUV segment. Now, as it works up a broader brand turnaround, Lincoln is counting on the big SUV to shine up its halo.
The 2022 model’s most notable new feature is a tall, upright version of the new Lincoln signature grille shared with models like the Aviator — which gets a new Shinola edition for 2022 — and Nautilus. It’s framed by standard LED pixel projector headlamps. The technology is capable of operating full-time in high beam mode, automatically dimming specific areas of its light pattern to avoid blinding pedestrians and ongoing traffic. That function is yet to be fully approved for use in the U.S. however.
New sequential taillights more clearly indicate which way the Navigator is turning. And they fade or light up sequentially, depending upon whether you’re starting the SUV up or shutting it down.
Black Label options
Inside, the Navigator retains the luxury details it’s long been known for — but it adds two new Black Label “themes” to the two already available:
- Central Park features open pore wood on the instrument panel laser-etched with a map of the park’s scenic pathway. Its seat leather is perforated to look like a silhouette of the New York skyline, while the car itself is finished in Manhattan Green;
- The Invitation theme “imparts a welcome feel to an intimate celebration, luxurious and detailed, with industry-first dual laser-etching and exclusive open-pore Khaya wood that expands across the instrument panel and center console.
But the real emphasis is on technology, and there’s plenty of it in the 2022 Lincoln Navigator, starting with ActiveGlide. It’s the brand’s name for a hands-free system also debuting on the Ford side of the family for 2022. ActiveGlide allows a motorist to operate hands-free on about 100,000 miles of limited-access U.S. roadways — though an infrared camera system monitors the drive who must remain focused on the road and ready to take over in an emergency, or when driving out of “blue” areas mapped by the system.
Plenty of screens
In keeping with the latest trends, there are screens everywhere, including a 12-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster, a 13.1-inch infotainment screen, a 5.8-inch touchscreen for rear passengers to control various vehicle functions, such as audio and climate, and available twin 10.1-inch screens for back seat passengers. There’s also an optional head-up display.
The center screen operates the latest Sync 4 infotainment technology, and the rear screens can now stream video from various sources through a mobile version of Amazon Fire TV. There’s wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the Amazon Alexa voice assistant. There’s also a new, 28-speaker Revel Ultima 3D audio option.
The 2022 Navigator also is the automaker’s first model to feature smartphone-style over-the-air updates. That can be used to not only update existing software but, in the future, will be used to provide improved navigation and additional driver modes, said chief engineer Mike Kipley.
Lincoln has been pitching the concept of “Quiet Flight,” with a focus on a near silent interior and smooth ride. To help, Navigator gets an adaptive suspension with “Road Preview.” The camera-based system watches the road ahead and can adjust each semi-active damper as often as 500 times a second to help counter bumps and potholes.
Plenty of power for towing
All versions of the new Navigator are powered by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 making 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. Power is channeled through a 10-speed automatic, and Navigator is available in either rear- or all-wheel drive.
Depending upon the drivetrain layout and trim package, the SUV can tow anywhere from 8,100 to 8,700 pounds. For those who do tow, Navigator will offer a new Trailer Reverse Guidance system and rear steering system, both meant to make it easier to back up. Multiple camera views will allow a driver to better track where the trailer is pointed, whether on-road or backing up.
The SUV also will be offered with a number of new advanced safety systems like Intersection Assist. It will automatically apply the brakes if a motorist tries to turn left at an intersection into oncoming traffic.
Lincoln isn’t releasing fuel economy numbers yet, and pricing won’t be announced until close to the official on-sale date for the 2022 Navigator early next year. The current version of the SUV starts at $76,705.
Navigator faces even more competition this year, including the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer models making their return after a three-decade absence. But the outgoing Lincoln SUV has gained some real traction this year, sales up by nearly a third despite the limits caused by the semiconductor shortage. So, the automaker is hoping to gain even more momentum once the updated 2022 Lincoln Navigator comes to market.