Boasting updates in key areas, the 2015 Lincoln Navigator should be a solid choice for a traditional luxury SUV.
For 2015 the Lincoln Navigator receives a makeover. Highlights include new front and rear styling, a refreshed interior and the replacement of the old V8 engine with a more powerful and efficient turbocharged V6.Read more
Plush ride; roomy third-row seat; typically less expensive than comparable rivals.
A large vehicle in a small niche segment, the Lincoln Navigator SUV has typically played second fiddle (or should we say second double bass) to its Cadillac rival. With a substantial refresh taking place this year, Lincoln's full-size luxury liner is putting up a stronger fight for first chair.
Chief among the key changes this year for the 2015 Lincoln Navigator is a turbocharged V6 engine that delivers stronger performance and promises better fuel economy than the anemic and old-tech V8 it replaces. Front-end styling adopts Lincoln's "split wing" grille, the rear gets a full-width taillight and an illuminated "welcome mat" lights up under both front doors when they're unlocked. Hidden from view is a newly optional suspension with adjustable dampers that, indeed, delivers greater comfort and stability when you need it.
Inside, the Navigator finally receives the latest version of the brand's infotainment interface (MyLincoln Touch) and adopts the company's latest touchscreen electronics interface that allows one to customize instrument panel displays. We never warmed to poking the capacitive-touch "virtual" buttons in previous applications, so it's nice to see the return of some tactile controls.
What remains unchanged are the Navigator's ability to carry up to eight passengers in comfort, transport the spoils of an overenthusiastic Costco shopping spree and tow a 9,000-pound trailer all in style. There simply aren't that many luxury vehicles out there that can do all that. There is a downside, however: sheer size. To assuage parking issues, there are parking sensors and a rearview camera equipped as standard, but somehow the Navigator still feels hard to handle at times. Not everyone will need something this big, though, so we recommend looking at some smaller three-row luxury crossover competitors if you aren't constantly hauling seven other people and their gear.
As for chief rivals, your shopping process will undoubtedly include the 2015 Cadillac Escalade (and its longer Escalade ESV sibling). Redesigned this year, the Escalade has a strong V8 engine and offers some features not found on the Lincoln such as LED headlights and adaptive cruise control. We'd also recommend checking out the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class because of its classy interior and its available fuel-efficient diesel power. Overall, the updated 2015 Navigator should be worth checking out, especially if you factor in its attractive pricing.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator is a full-size luxury SUV that's available in two models: the standard Navigator and the extended-wheelbase Navigator L. Both feature three rows of seats that, with the standard second-row captain's chairs, can accommodate a total of seven passengers. An available three-person 40/20/40-split second-row bench seat increases seating capacity to eight.
The Navigator's list of standard equipment includes 20-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, foglights, a heavy-duty tow package, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, rear privacy glass, a power liftgate, power-folding running boards, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear auxiliary controls, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats, power-adjustable pedals, driver seat memory settings, heated second-row captain's chairs and a power-folding 60/40-split third-row bench.
Also included are an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, the Sync voice command system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, multi-configurable instrument displays, a navigation system, an 8-inch touchscreen electronics interface and a 14-speaker surround-sound audio system with HD radio, satellite radio, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio input jack.
The optional Reserve package includes 22-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, a two-tone exterior paint scheme and upgraded leather trim (also covers the doors, dash and console). Other options include a sunroof, different wheels, a second-row console and a rear-seat entertainment system with twin, independent 7-inch headrest-mounted screens.
Powertrains and Performance
Power for the 2015 Lincoln Navigator comes from a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine that puts out 380 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard. A light-duty four-wheel-drive system (no low-range gearing) is optional.
At the Edmunds test track, a standard-wheelbase Navigator 4WD made the sprint to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, an average time for a luxury SUV.
The EPA's estimated fuel economy for the 2015 Navigator with two-wheel drive is 18 mpg combined (16 city/22 highway), and 17 mpg combined (15/20) with four-wheel drive. With a 4WD Navigator, we effectively matched those figures with a respectable 14 mpg around town and 17 mpg on our mixed-driving evaluation loop. The long-wheelbase versions come in at 17 mpg combined (15/20) and 16 mpg combined (15/19) for 2WD and 4WD, respectively.
Properly equipped, a rear-wheel-drive Navigator is capable of towing up to 9,000 pounds, outdoing many competitors.
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front-seat side airbags, three-row side curtain airbags and a post-crash alert system. Front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are also standard. The standard programmable MyKey system allows parents to specify speed limits and stereo volume limits for their teenage drivers.
In simulated panic stops from 60 mph, we measured 125 feet for a Navigator 4WD to come to a standstill. This distance is a bit better than average for a large SUV.
Interior Design and Special Features
Step inside the 2015 Lincoln Navigator and you'll find an upscale environment filled with a long list of standard amenities, from heated and ventilated front seats to a 14-speaker surround-sound audio system. Perhaps this interior's greatest strength is its sheer size. Passengers in the standard first- and second-row captain's chairs enjoy comfortable accommodations with plenty of room to stretch out. Even in the standard-wheelbase version, the third row feels remarkably spacious with true, adult-sized legroom.
Although the climb to that third row is a little awkward, optional motorized running boards (that retract when the vehicle is in motion) and the abundance of headroom once inside certainly help with this challenge. Part of the credit here is due to the Navigator's independent rear suspension (rather than a solid axle) that allows the third row to be packaged more effectively.
When it comes to hauling cargo, both Navigator models excel. With all the rear seats folded, the shorter-wheelbase version offers a healthy 103 cubic feet of cargo room, while the extended Navigator L comes in at an expansive 128 cubic feet. Easing cargo-loading chores is the standard power-folding third-row seat that folds flat into the floor with the touch of a button, and returns upright just as effortlessly.
Gauges and controls are straightforward and intuitive. The central, multifunction touchscreen offers a clean, logical layout for navigation, audio, phone and climate controls. Backed by many redundant voice commands, MyLincoln Touch can be a powerful tool for configuring and controlling the vehicle and your smartphone. But there's still a learning curve for getting accustomed to even basic functions.
The revised 2015 Lincoln Navigator maintains the previous Navigator's personality, offering a quiet cabin and a smooth, unruffled ride. The significant boost in engine output, again, makes it feel lighter on its feet while carrying a full load of passengers and while tackling hills and/or pulling a trailer. You won't hear a V8 rumble, but you might feel as if there's one under the hood.
Thanks to its independent rear suspension (available with adaptive dampers all around), the ride, and particularly the body control, is excellent for such a big vehicle. The 2015 Lincoln Navigator is perhaps the best handling large SUV on the road that actually drives smaller than it is. The same cannot be said of the Cadillac Escalade. The ride quality is also smooth, and even with those big 22-inch wheels, nearly all road imperfections are smothered out.
However, given all of these remarkable dynamic qualities, the Navigator's imposing dimensions, especially those of the long-wheelbase version, make it a handful in crowded parking lots and garages.