I should have known something was wrong the minute the dealer said they’d fixed it immediately.
Over the past month, my 2018 MKT Ecoboost (Reserve Elite Ecoboost, to give it all the credit) has been exhibiting some hard-start and freeway-stuttering behavior, so the Tuesday before last I dropped it off at the dealer. Five hours later they called and said it was fixed. “Fuel pump control module,” they assured me. So I went to get it. Ran fine when I picked it up, and the second time I drove it, as well. The third time, it just flat died on the freeway and I got to push this 4,800-pound wagon out of the right lane onto the shoulder, in about thirty-five-degree weather. Clearly this was not fixed. Likely not the fuel pump control module either. I’m thinking it’s the fuel pump. A quick check of the internet showed that dealers pull this shuffle on the F-150 Ecoboost owners all the time; the module is an easy replacement but the pump itself is not.
Since the MKT is still under warranty, and since it’s a Reserve, I’m entitled to a service loaner. The cashier assured me that they had plenty of loaners available and that if I showed up between ten and noon the next day there would be one washed up and ready to go. Of course that wasn’t true. It took them quite some time to find a set of keys, and then it took me ten minutes of walking the lot to find the vehicle in question. It was filthy inside and out. Reeked of someone’s extremely intense cologne. I remember this being the case with pretty much every car when I was a kid. The American middle class got out of the habit back in the Nineties, the same way people stopped wearing male jewelry, but since then we’ve been busy importing millions of six-figure earners who really like their ouds and their bergamots and whatnot. Touching the steering wheel caused my hand to stink at a distance.
That was the bad news. The good news: It was a $91,045 Navigator, with under three thousand miles on it.
Three years ago I drove a Navigator Black Label around SoCal, comparing it to the Lexus LS500 and Benz S63 in an odd-duck test of “what luxury means now”. It was astounding to me just how much better the big Lincoln was than the two sedans on offer, although the S63 was much closer to the mark than the remarkably disappointing LS500. The Reserve Plus model I have now costs ten grand less than the Black Label but has all the same basic equipment. The difference is in the interior, which is merely first-rate rather than world-class. I suspect T.C. Mits, The Celebrated Man In The Street, actually likes it better; the Black Label stuff is so recherche and beautiful as to be unpleasant for normies, the same way Turnbull&Asser’s best fabrics strike the average corporate VP as being “weird”.
Were I Navigator shopping, I’d shoot for the moon with a fully-loaded long-wheelbase Black Label. It could replace my MKT and the Silverado, which is fair because it would cost nearly as much as both of them combined. The problem happens when you need to put jugs of race fuel or dirty wheels in the back, or when you come off the downhill runs at Snowshoe caked with a five-millimeter layer of frozen mud. At that point, you would deeply regret having this interior:
Or even this one, which is what I’d likely get:
The answer is obviously to use seat covers, but in my experience a seat cover is rarely removed once you install it, meaning you are just keeping the seats nice for the next owner.
Last weekend my son and I took Navegante, the Narcos-ish name I’ve given to this thing, on a 400-plus mile round-trip to an indoor airsoft arena in Norwalk, Ohio and Ray’s Bike Park in Cleveland. As is troublingly often the case nowadays, he and I had exactly the same opinion: Just as nice as the Genesis G90, except for the noise. It’s that 63-decibel hush that makes the G90 so relaxing to steer. The Navigator has better seats, slightly better audio, and more intuitive controls — but it’s also a barn door being shoved through the air at eighty miles per hour. There’s a limit to how well you can insulate that noise from the cabin, particularly if you don’t have double-pane glass.
Another gripe: The new-for-2021 Escalade has soft-close doors, but the Navigator does not. Imagine closing a door with full force. Why, at that point you might as well wear Kenneth Cole shoes, because you’re obviously in a state of financial embarrassment.
In all other respects, this is simply a perfected version of the 1976 Fleetwood Talisman. It’s taken GM and Ford more than twenty years to get their full-sized trucks truly up to standard — but they are here now. It’s a little easier to drive around town than a ’76 Cadillac, since it has better sightlines and a full complement of cameras. This week has seen a mini-snowstorm descend on the Midwest. Navegante doesn’t care. Remote start fires up seats and a steering wheel that auto-adjust to keep you toasty from the moment you get in. I started running errands in a T-shirt, because I knew I wouldn’t be cold for more than the time it took to walk from the Lincoln’s front door to my destination.
The kinship with an F-150 is a little embarrassing, yes, but the same thing was true in 1976. More so, really. There’s no commonality between this interior and anything you can get at the Ford shop. It’s not that there’s never been an American car with an interior like this; it’s that there’s hardly been any car with an interior like this. A Ghost is nicer, of course, but a 2002 Seraph isn’t. If you got out of the Navigator and sat in an S450 with the same pricetag, you’d feel cheated.
It’s just so deeply tragic that the American automakers re-understood luxury just in time to have the Uniparty pull the rug out from under them. And the 15.4-mpg combined economy means that $10/gallon gasoline would quickly have an genuine financial impact on anyone earning under half a million bucks a year. Still. You’re witnessing another peak of automotive history here. When my sane-and-sensible MKT comes back, I will truly miss this vehicle, from its crass light-up Lincoln star to its anonymous tail lamps, and all the wonderfulness in between. If you have the means, as the man once said, I highly recommend it.
With more than 320 comments at the time of writing this, my column on automotive gatekeeping has functioned as an extremely coarse test of self-awareness for a lot of readers. See how you do!