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2006 Lincoln Navigator

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San Francisco:  A sensuous, curvy front end makes the 2006 Navigator fit in with the rest of Lincoln's high-class lineup. Power deployable running boards are a flashy option, as they disappear under the body after the doors are closed for a clean, uncluttered look.

This is the best interior you can get from the factory in a full-size SUV. The quality of materials and construction is outstanding, especially compared with the lackluster plastics in its Cadillac and Infiniti rivals.

If you're in the market for a full-size luxury SUV in 2006, you have three choices. One is the Cadillac Escalade, which has monster power and a trendy body that shows up way too often in music videos. Cadillac hopes gyrating girls and tricked-out wheels can distract you from the tacky plastic inside.

Another is the Infiniti QX56, which is all about size. It's so big it comes with a rear-view camera as standard equipment, but its cabin also suffers from the black plastic plague.  Then there's the Lincoln Navigator.

In terms of overall refinement and interior quality, the Navigator stands head and shoulders above both its competitors. It's roomy and comfortable, and it even has flashy features like power folding seats and power running boards that Cadillac and Infiniti don't offer.

Still, its sales have languished behind the Cadillac for years. Chalk it up to an image problem, as Caddy has gained a following among the younger, hipper, MTV-watching crowd that sets the rules for what's cool and what's not. Lincoln is mainly known for its wrinklemobile, the Town Car. It's a shame the marketing gurus at Lincoln couldn't create more "buzz" about the Navigator, because it deserves as much attention as any SUV on the road.

The accolades start piling up when you first look at the body styling, particularly the front end. While it's based on the Ford Expedition chassis, a very curvy, car-like hood and grille give it a softer appearance that fits in with Lincoln's high-class lineup. The side profile is passť and makes it look very much like a Ford, but the back is different with wraparound taillights and a staunch, upright stance.

Inside is where the Navigator really shines, though. The overall look in the cabin is elegant and modern, and it uses far less of the cheap-feeling plastic than its competitors. From the piping sewn around its soft leather seats to the fit and finish of its real wood trim, this is the best interior you'll find in a full-size SUV.

This plush interior is dominated by a big center stack on the dash that includes the navigation screen and a whole bunch of buttons for audio and climate control functions. A lid can cover the navigation system and audio controls to make the stack look beautifully simple, with only the climate buttons remaining exposed.

There's lots of space for spreading out - too much, if you ask my wife. No matter where she sat in the Navigator, she had trouble stretching across the wide, spacious cabin to give our crying baby a binky.

The Navigator comes standard with leather seats, a reverse sensing system and all the usual luxury goodies for $50,325 with rear-wheel drive or $53,875 with all-wheel drive.  The Ultimate Preferred Equipment Package adds a power glass sunroof, power liftgate, heated and cooled front seats, and a power folding feature for the third-row seat for $3,100.

Options include a 300-watt THX audio system with DVD navigation for around $3,000, power retractable running boards for about a grand, a rear-seat DVD player for $1,415 and a sunroof for almost $1,600.

This huge Lincoln is also pleasing to drive, considering its size. It has a smooth, responsive feel that doesn't float or bounce as much as the Town Car, and its steering, braking and suspension systems all work in harmony for a velvety ride.

The Navigator's biggest downside is a lack of horsepower from its V8 engine, if you can call 300 horses weak. The Escalade still gets bragging rights with 345 horses, and you can definitely tell the difference from the driver's seat.

All in all, though, the Navigator is a fantastic luxury SUV and one of the best vehicles on the planet for taking your family on a road trip. If only Lincoln can figure out how to get hot girls to dance around it on MTV, it might have a chance to beat Cadillac on the showroom floor.

What was tested: the 2006 Lincoln Navigator Ultimate 4x4 ($55,285). Options: Cashmere tri-coat clearcoat ($495), limited edition monotone package ($1,195), elite package ($7,045).  Price as tested (including $820 destination charge and $695 discount for chrome plated wheels): $64,145.

Why buy it? It's the most refined full-size SUV on the road, with the best quality interior and great driving dynamics for such a big vehicle. It's spacious, comfortable and stylish.  By James E. Bryson   © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: 
 Navigating through rough waters
Topic: 
 The 2006 Lincoln Navigator Ultimate 4x4
Word Count:  
 876
Photo Caption: 
 The 2006 Lincoln Navigator Ultimate 4x4
Photo Credits:  
Lincoln Internet Media
Series #:   2006 - 04

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2006 Lincoln Navigator

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Publisher - Editor:   Tony Leopardo
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©2006 - AutoWire.Net - All Rights Reserved Web Editor -  Tony Leopardo

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