2003 Lincoln Navigator
2003 Lincoln Navigator. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Ford Motor Company of Canada

Review and photos by Chris Chase

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Lincoln Navigator, 2003-2008

Could there be a worse time to consider buying a full-size truck? Well, yeah; gas could still be more expensive, couldn’t it?

Thing is, if you’re going to use a truck for what it was built for – carrying stuff and hauling a boat or RV around all summer – this might be a great time to buy. Many current truck owners are dumping theirs for more efficient vehicles, and resale values on these big behemoths are taking a hit as a result.

The Lincoln Navigator was the first full-size luxury SUV to come to market in the late 1990s. Cadillac quickly followed up with its own Escalade in 1999.

2007 Lincoln Navigator
2007 Lincoln Navigator. Click image to enlarge

The Navi, as it is known casually, is based on the Ford Expedition, and shares much of that truck’s running gear. This includes a single-cam, 5.4-litre V8 making 300 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque and a four-speed automatic transmission in 2003 and 2004 models.

In 2005, the Navigator got a revised version of the same motor, sporting twin-cam cylinder heads. Horsepower remained at 300, but torque increased to 365 lb-ft, and the four-speed auto was replaced by a six-speed transmission. It’s worth noting, perhaps, that the 2002-2006 Escalade boasted a 6.0-litre V8 making 345 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque.

A 2007 freshening gave the Navigator a new look, but little changed under the hood. Meanwhile, the 2007 Escalade got a 6.2-litre engine making a massive 403 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque. The 2007 model year also added a long-wheelbase Navigator L.

2003 Lincoln Navigator
2007 Lincoln Navigator
2003 Lincoln Navigator (top); 2007 Lincoln Navigator. Click image to enlarge

The Navigator’s fuel consumption will be hard to take if you’re not accustomed to driving a large truck. Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide pegged consumption at 19.6 L/100 km (city) and 14.7 L/100 km (highway) in 2003.

Navigator reliability hasn’t been great, according to Consumer Reports; the publication cites a variety of trouble spots. While serious transmission troubles appear to be rare, there are many complaints in Lincoln forums of rough shifting.

Another under-hood trouble spot includes spark plugs that like to break off in the cylinder head in the earlier, single-cam version of the Navigator’s V8.

Also, the Navigator was available with an adjustable air suspension system. This is useful for towing, but can also be expensive to replace when things go wrong. Be aware that problems can range from simple and inexpensive – like a disconnected or broken hose – to potentially pricey, if the system’s air compressor fails.

2003 Lincoln Navigator
2007 Lincoln Navigator
2003 Lincoln Navigator (top); 2007 Lincoln Navigator. Click image to enlarge

The crash safety data available for the Navigator paints a good picture. The Navigator scored five stars for both driver and front passenger protection in National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) testing. However, neither the NHTSA nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted side impact testing (the IIHS has no Navigator data whatsoever).

High gas prices or not, the Navigator’s resale values are weak. According to Canadian Red Book, a 2003 model is worth $16,675, while a 2008 Navigator L carries a value of $48,000. A good bet would be to avoid the single-cam engine for its spark plug eating habits; choose a 2005 (or newer) Navigator and you can expect to pay something in the area of $25,000.

I might suggest, however, that if you’re considering a Navigator for its “bling” quotient, you’d be better off with an Escalade. This truck is far showier, especially since a 2007 redesign, and reliability seems to have been better, too. If you’re buying a truck for purely practical reasons, forget both the Lincoln and the Cadillac and shop for a more sensible (and less expensive) Ford Expedition (largely the same truck as the Navi) or one of the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon twins.

Online resources

There isn’t much out there in terms of sites dedicated to the Navigator. LincolnForums.com has a busy section specifically for the Navi and Lincoln’s other trucks. At FordForums.com, the Navigator shares forum space with the similar Ford Expedition, and the same is true at BlueOvalForums.com. There are also a variety of Navigator discussions to be found in the forums at both Edmunds.com and Topix.com.

Manufacturer’s Website
  • Ford Motor Company of Canada


    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005199; Units affected: 311
    2006: On certain vehicles, the left side tires may have been damaged during vehicle assembly. Damage to the center tread portion of the tire was caused by a section of steel fingerplate on a conveyor that had become sharp over time due to wear. The sharpened steel fingerplate could cause a scalloped cut into the tread that varied in depth, width and length. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace damaged tires.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005349; Units affected: 5

    2006: Certain vehicles may have an incorrectly manufactured guide plate which could hinder the function of the transmission parking pawl. Consequently, PARK may not engage when the lever in the vehicle is moved to PARK and all indicators show PARK position is achieved. If the vehicle was parked on an incline of sufficient grade, and the parking brake was not engaged, the vehicle could roll away. Correction: Dealers will replace the parking pawl guide plate.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005356; Units affected: 13,581 (other models affected)
    2005: On certain vehicles, the windshield wiper motor may have been produced without grease applied to the output shaft gear. After a period of continuous use on the high-speed setting, lack of grease may cause the gear teeth to distort and/or fracture during operation, resulting in the loss of wiper function. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if required, apply grease to the output shaft gear.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008040; Units affected: 3,673 (other models affected)
    2007-2008: On certain vehicles, the door handle housing embossment retaining the bottom of the interior door handle spring on all side doors may fracture during normal usage, resulting in insufficient spring force to return the handle to the fully closed position. Under certain conditions, this may cause the door latch to open during a side impact crash, which could result in increased risk of fatality or injury to an adjacent occupant. Correction: Dealers will replace the interior side door handle springs with updated versions.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008039; Units affected: 2,135

    2007: On certain vehicles equipped with a 5.4L engine, the fuel rail cross-over hose may have intermittent, localized carbon material clumps in the hose wall, which could weaken the hose. Over time a fuel leak may develop. Fuel leakage, in the presence of an ignition source, could result in a fire, causing property damage and/or personal injury. Correction: Dealers will replace the fuel rail assembly.

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

    Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

    For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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