Summer in the Middle East is no fun. Crazy temps and rising humidity mean the sofa and Netflix become your best friends, with only the brave/foolhardy venturing out into the midday sun.

Steve Chalmers

However, just like in nature, summer also signals the great migration of locals and expats, leaving the remaining souls to enjoy the empty roads and quieter malls. With the region’s hotels offering guests great deals, staying put is not a bad option at all, but what about if you really want to get away from it? Well, the new Lincoln Navigator is your ideal weekend partner.

Escape the City

Having had a look around the 2018 Lincoln Navigator at its Dubai launch back in May, I was eager to get behind the wheel and experience some proper on-road pampering. The big Lincoln has been around since 1997 and was brought in to take a slice of the popular full-size SUV pie, which at the time, was being battled out between the Range Rover, Chevrolet’s Suburban and the Ford Explorer. Luxury was always Lincoln’s forte though and the big, comfy and powerful SUV made it the ideal family choice for the Middle East. The latest Navigator redefines the luxury experience, which made the decision to leave work early on a hot July afternoon and hit Sheikh Zayed Road, a no brainer.

Those Seats

With the boot suitably filled with an icebox, half a ton of Pringles and no tent, photographer Carlin and I set off from Dubai Media City with the intention of arriving at Shuweihat for sundown, an island 40 kilometres from the Saudi border. It may seem like an insane idea to jump in an SUV on a Thursday afternoon and drive 300 kilometres to an island you’ve never been to before, but the big Lincoln is perfectly designed for adventure.

Its spacious interior has seating for eight guests over three rows, with more than enough head and leg room for the tallest of passengers, but it’s the Navigator’s leather seats which make it the ideal long-range hauler. Not only do they offer massage and cooling functionalities, but they can be adjusted in 30 different ways: they’re basically individual seating pads mounted on a separate base and like nothing else on the market at the moment. Standard SYNC® 3 with both Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ compatibility means our road-trip playlists are sorted and with the whisper quiet V6 pushing us along at the speed limit, we’re soon heading past Abu Dhabi without even noticing.

An insane idea to jump in an SUV on a Thursday afternoon and drive 300 kilometres to an island you’ve never been to.

Twin Turbo Power

As you can imagine, the E11 West of the capital is not the busiest of roads and as the rush hour traffic of a couple of Nissan Patrols fizzles out, we’re basically on our own enjoying the new scenery while now and again, dropping down a gear or two to experience the Navigator’s delightful twin turbo, intercooled DOHC 24-valve, 3.5-litre Ecoboost engine. Although it’s the same V6 as can be found in Ford’s Raptor, the whisper quiet Navigator is surprisingly more enjoyable to drive, as the hushed engine note and virtually inaudible exhaust mean your senses are heightened to the twin turbo’s torque.

Without this Ecoboost engine it’s unlikely that we would have even contemplated this trip; it really eats up the miles and if we can jump in and head towards the Saudi border without a second thought, then it’s going to be just fine on the school run, or the weekly trip to Choithrams. In all honesty, we didn’t think we would get to Shuweihat Island for sunset, but with maybe half an hour to spare, we pulled up on the northern shore and were greeted by a Mars-like landscape of orange rock quite unlike any other land formation we’ve come across in the region.

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Subtle Style

As we set up the camera and flashes, we get to have a good look at the Navigator’s new styling. The front end is dominated by the grille and as the sun sets, we notice the Lincoln star logo is softly illuminated, as are a number of the SUV’s details, such as the LED lighting in the lower front body and tail-lamps as well as the LED ‘welcome mat’ under the open doors. It’s certainly a handsome design, with the high-strength aluminium-alloy body weighing in at 90kgs lighter than the previous version.

The big 22-inch alloy wheels finish the look off and as the night falls we set up camp using the Navigator as an air conditioned base. Quiet, relaxed and as quick as you want it to be, the V6 Lincoln is sure to be as popular as its V8 predecessor and with that ultra luxury interior, you’ll be finding any excuse to get out and enjoy the big SUV.