If you haven’t been raptly following the nuances of the Lincoln Navigator lineup, the 2020 model year brought the Reserve Monochromatic package, which is highlighted by black wheels and a body-color grille, along with a general reduction in shiny trim pieces. But what if you want, say, the Black Label—the top of the food chain, Navigator-wise—with the monochromatic package? Well, some said it couldn’t be done, but Lincoln found a way to put black wheels on that one, too. Thus, we have a new flagship Lincoln SUV, the 2021 Navigator Black Label with the Special Edition package. No longer must Black Label owners hire freelance Plasti Dip artists to bring their Navigators closer to monochrome spec.
The Special Edition package costs $6695, which seems mildly extortionate for a selective reduction of brightwork—especially given that the monochromatic package costs $3270 on the Reserve trim. But on the Black Label it includes a black roof, for a throwback two-tone look. It’s available with most exterior colors except black, possibly because Lincoln is saving that for an inevitable Midnight Edition in 2022 or 2023. A Navigator Black Label starts at $99,420, and a rear-seat entertainment system ($2000) and inflatable rear seatbelts ($250) are essentially the only options. (Our tester had neither.) The long-wheelbase L model adds $3200. Yes, that is a lot of money, and no, they’re not throwing incentives at it, either. Navigator sales were up 26 percent in the first quarter of this year, and over at Cadillac they’re selling every Escalade they can build. In a few more months, the Hamptons will be lousy with the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer. In the new Roaring Twenties, however long they may last, big three-row domestic luxury SUVs are a hot commodity.
And suddenly, the Navigator—redesigned for the 2018 model year—is the oldest SUV in its segment. It doesn’t feel dated, however, especially in terms of its power delivery. The 450-hp twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6—feel free to call it the Raptor engine—flings the vast Lincoln from rest to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, which is only 0.1 second behind a relatively dainty Audi SQ5. The quarter-mile requires just 13.8 seconds, at the end of which the Navigator is traveling at 100 mph. Those figures are good enough to beat the last Raptor we tested. More important, they trounce the Navigator’s natural foe, the Escalade. That Cadillac, with its naturally aspirated V-8, hits 60 in 5.9 seconds and does the quarter-mile in 14.4 seconds at 96 mph.
Drag-strip starts aside, the Navigator’s 510 pound-feet of torque make it feel effortlessly powerful in everyday driving, as befits a barge that has 30-way power-adjustable front seats and an available interior theme dubbed Yacht Club, complete with blue leather seats and white teak wood trim. With a tow rating as high as 8700 pounds, the Navigator can also tow a decent-sized yacht’s tender.
A boat trailer that size would have its own brakes, which is important because the Navigator’s stoppers already have their work cut out halting 6066 pounds of Black Label. Our test truck’s 182-foot stop from 70 mph isn’t poor, and the first four stops were consistent. But the next three grew progressively longer, and our test driver noted that one more run might’ve seen brake fade become brake failure. But if you’re not running hot laps on a racetrack, they should be sufficient. Rolling on 22-inch Hankook Dynapro HT all-season tires, the Black Label’s middling 0.76 g of lateral grip is another telltale sign that the Navigator, while all ate up with boost, isn’t built to take on Durango Hellcats.
Although it’s been three years since its debut, the Navigator still does an excellent job of convincing you that it has little to do with the Ford Expedition and is in fact the sort of domestic royalty worthy of an interior design scheme called Chalét. (Yes, with an accent.) But as for the Special Edition, we’d suggest that some brightwork actually suits a Navigator. And $6695 buys a lot of Plasti Dip.
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