I was of the opinion that the most abstract television commercials were for perfume. Whenever one would interrupt the football, it’d feature beautiful people in completely unconnected scenes which made no sense or had any context whatsoever. They were in a different class of bizarre — until those Lincoln adverts starring Matthew McConaughey began showing up... I still haven’t the foggiest what they’re about and nothing makes my head scratch more than these one minute art shows. Take for instance the one he did for the all-new 2018 Navigator; it’s a luxurious SUV with a bold-yet-elegant exterior, a plethora of tech, and a potent turbocharged V6 — yet the ad doesn’t convey any of this. All we’re shown is the award-winning actor beating the steering wheel as if he’s playing the bongos. Want to know a little more about the newbie? “Alright, alright, alright” (sorry) allow me to fill in the finer details.

Some consider the Navigator, introduced in the late Nineties, to be the original luxury SUV and it would be if several fancy models, including the venerable Range Rover, hadn’t come before it. So what if it isn’t the first? As of right now, I can’t think of anything else that’s better than this large, premium SUV which boasts best-in-class levels of power, luxury and prestige to go with an indulgent interior and captivating exterior.

 

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Photos: Stefan Lindeque

Starting with the aesthetics, not many envisaged Lincoln would retain several styling elements of the massively opulent, gull-winged concept — but apart from the doors, the production version really does appear to be a shot-for-shot remake. The chrome grille is incredibly imposing and is flanked by a pair of large and very pronounced headlights. Even though they’ve got a little too much empty black plastic around the projectors and the industry has moved on to seamless LED pipes, they get a tick in my book purely for the mesmerising light show displayed when you approach the SUV. Even the chrome Lincoln star logo on the grille softly illuminates. The rear end is also much like that of the concept as it retains the tiny spoiler off the roof, the wraparound windows, wraparound taillights and the Turbine-style 22in chrome wheels. They look great with their black-painted pockets and machined face. In fact, the SUV shares a similar theme to the Continental and much like the saloon, it also conveys an air of authority. It is far more stately than the previous model and it’s worth noting that the bold body is made from aluminium and along with a high-strength steel frame it saves 90kg in weight. And thanks to the deployable running boards, you don’t need a rope ladder to get into it.

The interior is just as classy as the exterior and is fortified with a heavily grained wood from South America and yards of plush Venetian leather trim throughout. The last Navigator’s interior was a grab bag of Ford parts but you have to look hard to find any shared bits from the Expedition now. It’s also ever so roomy in all three rows and the large panoramic roof bathes the cabin with natural light and makes it feel even bigger. It has everything you could possibly need in there including a wireless phone charger (no more tangled chords) 10in touchscreen (it’s clear and sharp and separating it from the dash gives the design a layered feeling), the brightest and clearest head up display in the segment (full of essential drive information but it’s not overly cluttered) a 360-degree camera and Enhanced Park Assist (no more stress from parallel and perpendicular parking), Adaptive Cruise Control (it automatically slows the SUV in stop-and-go traffic and resumes speed when traffic allows) a tremendous Revel Ultra 20-speaker sound system, six USB ports, four 12-volt power outlets and a 230-volt plug — but it’s the massaging front seats with 10 degrees of intensity and separate thigh adjustments for each leg that score the highest. And with 30 various adjustments you’ll be able to customize your comfort more precisely than any other car. Apart for the Continental. It has them too.

 

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Photos: Stefan Lindeque

It also comes with three second row configurations — a three-person bench, two captain’s chairs with console, or two captain’s chairs with the convenience of a pass through (our Presidential tester, which costs Dh402,132 — or roughly Dh100,000 more than the top spec Expedition — had the second option) while a standard rear-seat entertainment system allows passengers to stream content wirelessly with an Android device to one of the 10in adjustable screens mounted on the rear of the front seats. And if you thought the third row was for kids, think again; with a flat floor and ample head-, shoulder-, knee-, and elbowroom even adults will enjoy being back there.

I can’t think of anything else that’s better than this luxurious Navigator which boasts best-in-class levels of power, luxury and prestige...

With less mass to carry around, plus an independent rear end, it is very pleasant on the move. And since it packs a Raptor-sourced variant of the 3.5-litre twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 that is blessed with 450 horses at 5,500rpm and 691Nm of torque at 3,000rpm, it provides peppy performance through the new 10-speed automatic transmission (which sends the grunt to all four corners). The dreaded turbo lag is virtually unnoticeable however, the gearbox — albeit seamless for the most part — does tend to downshift at times with a bit of a clunk. In spite of the tall centre of gravity it doesn’t display nearly as much body roll as you think it might unless you’re being really heavy handed, and naturally, the ride is ever so smooth. This is a Lincoln after all but what’s even more impressive than the performance or the impeccable ride is the shockingly small turning circle. For such a large vehicle, manoeuvring it in tight spots is a breeze.

It has six drive modes that range from Normal to Deep Sand and each alter the vehicles behaviour as the occasion requires but the graphics on the 12in configurable instrument cluster will blow your mind with their grandiosity; it’s as if you’re watching deleted scenes from the deep-space epic, ‘Gravity’ when you toggle through the modes. It’s brilliant, just like the rest of this Lincoln.

Since launch, the Navigator has officially gone on to be ranked in the J.D Power Apeal study by customers as the most appealing vehicle in the entire industry. What’s more, demand for this opulent family hauler is so high that Ford is spending $25 million to upgrade the factory that builds it. Clearly then, the people have spoken and though I’m not a fan of those peculiar McConaughey ads, I sure am of this superb SUV.