For a hundred large, you can drive a work of engineering that has magically transformed a workhorse pickup truck into a luxurious SUV (sport-utility vehicle). From Lincoln.

Soft and almost cuddly design.

And not just any SUV, but one quiet as a church mouse; powerful as Thor (twin-turbo V-6 rated at 450 hp./510 lb.-ft. torque); technologically advanced as Fancy Bear, the hacker associated with Russian military intelligence; hulking as, well, The Hulk; stylish as a New York City loft; and comfy as an Eames Lounge Chair.

That’s the reworked Lincoln Navigator of 2018. And because this latest Navigator is a Lincoln, you will be driving something almost no one else has. I mean, BMWs, Mercs and Audis are as common as quarters, but last year just 8,107 Canadians bothered with a Lincoln.

And in all of 2017, barely 650 Canadians bought a Navigator. You want exclusive? Here you go.

But be forewarned: in the first quarter of 2018, Lincoln moved 332 Navigators. This big, fancy rig might be catching fire. Maybe that Matthew McConaughey pitch is working. The new design and aluminum construction are also doing their part, no doubt.

In any case, I am a little ashamed to admit that I thoroughly love the 2018 Navigator. It’s a guilty, overwrought pleasure that wounds my minimalist, middle-class sensibilities. But it’s also a gem and darn near a work of art. As if the Palace of Versailles had come to life on an F-150 platform. This is an American SUV fit for a Sun King.

If you buy a Lincoln, you’re in an exclusive club. A small, exclusive club.

The wealth of royalty is important, too. Aside from the price tag, there’s the fuel bill. Depending on how you drive and where, your Navvy will slurp down 16-17 litres/100 km of recommended premium fuel. My fill-ups ran to $115 each.

But as you fly along like a Stealth bomber on steroids, you can eyeball your real-time fuel consumption. A gaudy information readout is but one small piece of a stunning digital display that includes a surprisingly attractive TV-like screen mounted at the top of the console, just above a slash of air vents. Note to BMW: this is how it’s done.

As well, I have nothing but praise for the finally-mastered Sync system and all it can do, easily, without confusion. Infotainment and such made simple. Why can’t the Germans do this, or even come close?

But to the beginning.

The first indication you have of what’s in store with this Navvy comes as you approach. It detects your smart key, lights in the door handles come alive, the running boards (disguised as door sills) slide out and the word “Lincoln” is beamed onto the ground below the door. This never gets old; it’s as if your truck is bowing as you approach. Moreover, the Lincoln logo on the grille glows white at night. Lovely.

Luxurious and technologically advanced.

The overall exterior design, too, somehow manages to soften the look of a truly massive SUV – Hulk Hogan in Armani, without that ridiculous do-rag. The point is, this new design is all soft corners and gentle curves.

As for that latticework up front, past Navigators had a nose like the grille at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. We’re talking a massive, shiny, sharp-edged space generous enough to cook simultaneously all the cuts needed for a roomful of meaty gourmets: here for the tenderloin, there for the filet mignon, the T-bone, rib eye, and strip. The 2018 Navigator’s simple yet elegant eggcrate is utterly tasteful. What a change.

The cabin, meantime, is a triumph. Really. The Navvy’s Ford roots are devilishly disguised by luxurious materials that fit together beautifully. You won’t find anything richer in a Range Rover or a Cadillac Escalade. Wood trim framed by chrome? Yes, but it’s not gaudy at all. The leather upholstery is soft as a whisper and seats up front are available to adjust in 30 different ways. If you can’t get comfy, you’re in another galaxy of high maintenance.

I will say that the second-row seats are a step down from the fronts: smallish and a bit too low, and the third-row pews are for children only. With them down and flat, the cargo hold is massive.

2018 Lincoln Navigator

As I suggested earlier, with a tinge of sheepishness, three words sum up the Navigator: alright,  alright, alright, as MM might say.

2018 Lincoln Navigator 4×4

Base price: $87,750. As tested: $101,600. Destination charge: $2,000.

Engine: 3.5-litre V-6, twin turbo (450-horsepower/510 lb-ft of torque)).

Transmissions: 10-speed automatic.

Drive: all-wheel with various dial-up functions for road conditions.

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 14.9 city/11.3 using premium fuel.

Comparables Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover, Infiniti QX80.


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