Mixed Bag: Lincoln Tweaks Navigator for 2022


Lincoln has refreshed the Navigator, giving both the standard and long-wheelbase SUV new features. While there have also been some changes made to the flagship vehicle’s design, the company is not straying far from what it already knows works. But that doesn’t mean everything is exactly as it should be.

Despite adding some desirable tech, Lincoln has tweaked the turbocharged, 3.5-liter V6 to produce less horsepower than before. The 2022 model year produces 440 horsepower and 510 ft-lb of torque, whereas the previous version offered 450 hp. Considering Ford has yet to release EPA-certified economy figures, we’re betting this was done to boost efficiency. Compression ratios are also different, with the 2022 MY running 10.5:1 rather than the previous 10.0:1.  

This was downplayed during its introduction, however, so that Lincoln could spend more time focusing on the company injecting Ford Motor Co’s hands-free highway driver-assist system into Lincoln products. Referenced as BlueCruise when pertaining to the Ford brand, Lincoln has opted to call the system ActiveGlide — making it sound like a personal lubricant of some kind. But it’s functionally the same, providing Navigator owners with the ability to occasionally take their hands off the wheel while the vehicle pilots pre-mapped highways.

Though it should be said that the function does not work on all roadways and owners need to be okay with Lincoln having mounted a driver-facing camera to ensure that you’re constantly paying attention while using a feature that does its utmost to remove you from the action. It’s extremely similar to Cadillac’s SuperCruise system and something your author truly doesn’t understand or see offering much practical value to the driver.

But it’s a good way to build hype around a vehicle and bound to snag a few tech-obsessed customers, provided they’re willing to pay the subscription fee. ActiveGlide will be an optional feature on the Reserve and Black Label Navigators, meaning a loftier MSRP. But you do get three years for free before Lincoln pushes you into a subscription model.

Additional changes include giving all SUVs new pixel projector headlights, allowing for an adaptive beam pattern, and LED taillights that offer various animation sequences that vary depending upon what you’re doing. The grille has also been updated on select trims, and it looks more premium, though I’d probably never had noticed if the manufacturer had not made specific mention of the change.

Interiors now come with updated graphics for the gauge cluster and a 13.2-inch touchscreen infotainment center using SYNC 4. That means wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and over-the-air updates as standard. While OTAs have unique benefits (Ford suggested adding drive modes to the Navigator as an example) most automakers haven’t used connectivity in a manner that seems wholly beneficial to the consumer and it encourages things like subscription fees and putting installed features beyond digital paywalls.

Lincoln has not ignored the physical elements of the interior, however. Second-row seating can now be optioned to have the same heating, cooling, and massage features that are available on the frontal chairs. Your choice in interior materials and trim have also been broadened somewhat and there’s a new infotainment package with upgraded screens for rear occupants. These come with all sorts of planned connectivity features, though the company said some of those may be locked behind subscriptions.

Black Label models offer two new choices of interior themes to spruce up the Navigator’s already lavish cabin. One of these is called Invitation while the other is known as the Central Park theme and provides a bunch of visual references to New York City. As someone who currently lives there, it’s hard to envision the locals wanting any reminders of present-day Manhattan. It’s also curious to see Lincoln trying to embrace NYC after it worked so poorly for Cadillac. But the optional Manhattan Green paint job (also new) is decent and the associated urban-themed interior is bound to be a hit with Midwestern moms that went to see a show on Broadway a couple of years ago and feel like they have “a real connection to the city.”

The company had some really vapid marketing jargon to go along with the theme. But it would have done far more damage to Lincoln than anything whipped up here. Ultimately, the brand is offering more in terms of interior options and they all look pretty decent — including the walnut-wooded, laser-etched Central Park.

It seems like the 2022 Lincoln Navigator update is a mixed bag. We’re losing a smidgen of power for questionable economy gains and getting some new technology features you’re going to need to pay more for anyway. But the interior, which has long been one of the vehicle’s greatest strengths, is getting some extra niceties customers will undoubtedly appreciate.

Pricing is TBA but we’d expect the 2022 model year to surpass the previous starting point of $76,700 to account for some of the new hardware Lincoln has added.

[Images: Ford Motor Co.]

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