This plus a six-speed automatic transmission gives the ute plenty of power for highway driving and towing. Tests put the 0-to-60-mph acceleration at under 10 sec. The V8 roars when you tromp on the gas, and the 5,500-lb-plus vehicle is obviously geared for towing. That said, it still provides a smooth ride for a vehicle as big as some trucks. Our review vehicle carried what's called the ultimate package which includes traction control and 4WD that can be left engaged on dry pavement. ABS, air springs for self-leveling, and 18-in. wheels are standard. Big wheels and an independent rear suspension help level out bumps. Steering is power rack and pinion which gives the Navigator a precise feel through corners All in all, the ride is smooth and quiet, and the steering feels agile despite the fact you are sitting up high in one of the bigger sport-utes on the road. It is more like being in a large car rather than a truck. The Navigator is on the same platform as the Ford Expedition but it has a number of luxury features in the cab that set it apart from its cousin. There is a lot of leather and wood trim, of course. Driver and front passenger get dual-zone climate control. Passengers in the second and third row of seats get their own auxiliary control panels. Both front seats are power operated and are not only heated but cooled.

The third row of seats in the Ultimate package also folds down with a button push to give more storage capacity. The bucket seats in the second row fold down as well. And a power rear tailgate which opens or closes in about 10 sec with a press on the key fob. Power running boards, a $1,095 option in the Ultimate package, extend about 4in. when the doors open. These came in handy when entering the 77.8-in.-high vehicle.

The review car carried a premium sound and navigation system with virtual controls on an LCD. An entertainment system in the second row of seats included a DVD player. These two options were fun for long trips but they add $2,495 and $1,415 to the price tag, respectively. The only problem we noticed here was that the pull-down LCD for the entertainment system blocked the driver's view through the rear window.

Other things we liked in the passenger compartment included a huge storage area in the central console. Even the third-row seats are relatively comfortable and have plenty of legroom. We also liked the obstacle warning system that beeps with increasing urgency as you back up toward an obstacle and the large outside door mirrors that angle down when the car is in reverse.

There are only a few knocks on the interior. An analog clock in center of the console can be hard to read in certain kinds of light. The window controls are on the center console and their position takes some getting used to. Finally, there isn't a whole lot of cargo room with all the seats up, though lowering the third seat row provides a decent amount.

Topping off our review vehicle were chrome wheels which added $895 to the list and a $350 trailer tow. As tested the Navigator came in at $61,910 with a destination charge.

Finally, it's worth noting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Navigator high marks for crashworthiness in front and side-impact collisions. This is probably due in part to side air curtains in the first and second row .