What is it like to drive?
As pleasant as the cabin is to sit in, the driving part is a bit underwhelming. Maybe it’s just years of conditioning but when we get into a truck of this size, especially a US one, we expect to hear and feel a big V8 under the hood. The turbocharged V6 doesn’t lack for power or response, but it never sounds more than breathy and thin whatever the revs and load, irrespective of the mode the transmission is in.
Where the 10-speed gearbox has been designed with off-road modes like ‘Baja’ and ‘Rock Crawl’ when deployed in the Raptor, in the Navigator you are served up with normal English labels like ‘Slippery’ and ‘Excite’. Each also comes with a short descriptor, just in case you can’t work out what will happen when it’s selected. Excite’s is ‘Responsive and Engaging’. This is 50 per cent true.
While there’s absolutely no question that it will leap forward faster than a charging bull elephant when you mat the throttle, the chassis and brakes are only just capable of keeping it between the kerbs in full enthusiasm mode. Despite having active damping the ride is distinctly choppy unless the road is perfectly smooth. And the brakes really do need a proper shove to haul the thing to a stop quickly.
So it’s much better to glide the Navigator along in Normal mode. Conserve mode might be useful if you can’t find a petrol station – and you’ll be visiting plenty of those thanks to the engine’s thirst – but should be avoided at all other times as it heavily blunts throttle response.
It’s also worth pointing out that we had the 4x4 long wheelbase or L version of the Navigator, which adds an extra 11.9 inches of length and around 50kg to the weight. So it’s the most ponderous of the Navigator range. Selecting a regular wheelbase version, perhaps without the AWD would, we suggest, make matters more manageable. As it is, you don’t so much drive as set sail in this Navigator.