In earlier times, the term luxury SUV seemed to be an oxymoron. Luxury just wasn't a logical quality for a vehicle designed to be utilitarian (which usually entailed at least some off-road driving).
But then came the 1990s, and the luxury SUV concept was born. The Lincoln Navigator was one of the top contenders, along with its rival, the Cadillac Escalade. The 2003 model marks a new generation for the Navigator, and this Luxury 4WD trim emphasizes both facets of its name.
Most buyers of this vehicle (and SUVs in general, with Jeeps being the most notable exception) had no intentions of taking it off-road, and it was not intended for that purpose anyway, especially with its standard street tires. Still, the average American SUV-buyer nonetheless likes knowing that he's at the wheel of a capable 4x4, and this is a "real" 4x4, meaning its Control Trac system allows a choice from among automatic 4WD (which operates like a standard all-wheel-drive system), 4 High, 4 Low, and of course 2 High.
The Navigator was redesigned for 2003, and indeed it rolled out with many changes, but most weren't obvious to the naked eye. Lincoln made no change to the powerplant, leaving the 5.4-liter, 32-valve V8 in place.
The V8's 300 horsepower and 355 lb.-ft. of torque made it a capable tower, and this Luxury 4WD version could pull 8,100 pounds. A trailer-prep set-up with tow hook came standard, but traction and stability control were optional at this trim level.
Lincoln's main goal here was comfort, and that quality was assured thanks to a full array of interior amenities. The contoured captain's-style seats are covered in leather, and headroom and legroom are ample. It all pleases the eye, too, as the interior is appointed in a pretty nice soft-touch material complemented by authentic wood accents and metal trim. The third-row bench seat is definitely more substantial than the flimsy jumpseats found in some high-capacity SUVs. It is sufficient for two adults or three children, and it has its own set of climate controls.
Power features complete the luxury, giving the driver lumbar support, height-adjusted pedals, and seat-position memory, seat heating and cooling, and headrest articulation with touch-button response. Neither the navigation system nor the sliding moonroof was made available at this trim level.
The 2003 Navigator earned a full 5 stars in the NHTSA's frontal crash test (but we wouldn't want to be in the other car). The vehicle was available in seven exterior colors with two interior choices.