For anyone between the ages of 10 and 50, if the 365 days that comprised 1993 had a purpose, it was to provide you with as many opportunities as possible to see Steven Spielberg's massive hit; Jurassic Park. Based upon the novel by the same name penned by Michael Crichton, the blockbuster film made dinosaur fans out of absolutely everybody, and secured a steady stream of up-and-coming paleontologists for decades to come. But, although the imaginary theme park might be entirely fictional, those yearning for a quick peek into ancient prehistory needn't despair: it's as close as the nearest Lincoln Navigator.
And since it's far more Brontogator than Naviraptor, you've nothing to fear from the 2012 Lincoln Navigator... unless you happen to be a hydrocarbon chain. Rolling into 2012 almost entirely unchanged (the sole revision for this year is the addition of two convex spotter mirrors within the ponderously large side view mirror housings), the Navigator still checks off all the same boxes that made it so enviably popular back at the turn of the century, but stalwartly ignores every box that's been created since.
Take, for example, the powertrain. Pairing a roughly 6,000 pound curb weight with the nearly fossilized 310-horsepower 5.4L Triton V8 that once powered the F-150, the Navigatosaurus' thirst for fuel impossibly outweighs its penchant for speed. Not since the great brachiosaurs roamed the earth has something consumed so much, and moved so little. Even my own light right foot and ridiculously highway-heavy commuting couldn't keep the average fuel economy below 17 litres per hundred. The few attempts I did make to breach the urban barriers that separate the suburb I call home from Vancouver proper were met with a deluge of thank-you cards from OPEC nations ambassadors, a personal invitation to dine with the chairmen of Chevron, Texaco, and Shell, and a sudden spike in the economy of northern Alberta.
Then again, when you're ramming something through the environment that weighs roughly as much as a large African elephant, and has slightly more frontal area, fuel economy is bound to suffer. Likewise, so too is driveability. Sure, out on the highway, the great beast lumbers forward with unerring stability, sloughing off pretty much everything this side of a global extinction event. Road repairs, La Brea tar pit-sized potholes, and gale force winds all assail themselves at the acreage-sized flanks of the Lincolnadon, and all fail to elicit so much as a wiggle from the steering wheel. But, if that preferably arrow-straight highway should happen to lead to a major urban area, you might find the pleasingly stable and oh-so-spacious seven-seater suddenly feeling a little claustrophobic. Although the seating position is certainly commandingly high, the Navigator's long, angular hood, expansive cabin, and slow reflexes make it feel larger than it actually is. Having comfortably driven everything from 2.5 tonne military trucks to Ford F-450s towing 27-foot enclosed car trailers, I was personally surprised to find myself checking clearances around the side-view mirrors, to say nothing of the confidence (or lack thereof) that I had in parallel parking the monster.
But its insatiable (and ironic) thirst for dead dinosaur juice aside, there was one upshot: being inside the Navigatosaurus Rex is a hell of a lot more comfortable than being inside an actual dinosaur... at least, I'd wager it is. Resplendent in a particularly bright faux burled walnut with nice chrome trim accents, the interior is precisely how you would expect it: blithely luxurious. With taller windows than are typical, in today's rakish designs, and a positively huge cabin, it feels incredibly airy and yet quite cosseting at the same time. The best way to put it is to say that driving the Navigator is somewhat akin to planting yourself in your favorite Barcalounger, twisting a key, and taking your entire living room to the grocery store. Furthermore, there's damn near every amenity you could possibly want, and with the ability to seat seven, six, or five with downright ridiculous cargo and towing capacity, it's hard to imagine a situation that the Navigator wouldn't prove capable of handling.
And perhaps that's precisely the problem with the Navigator. Like the Town Cars and Continentals before it, the Navigator simply accomplishes every task put before it. Granted, it doesn't do it with the same easygoing flair and panache as, oh, Lincoln's own 7-seating MKT, but the Navigator will do it all if given enough time. But, that same lack of charisma and panache makes it feel like a vehicle that will end up entombed in the morass of airport parking lots and nightclub districts for all eternity, where it's massive capacity, huge interior, and impressive luxury can be enjoyed by limousine patrons the world over. And just like those aforementioned stately Lincoln sedans, while the Navigator's been busy chauffeuring happily hammered folks from party to party, the automotive world has been flashing past its tinted windows, leaving the hulking creature looking more and more like a dying dinosaur hailing from a bygone era.