Although it had been several years since we had driven a Lincoln Navigator, we remember it as being too big and ‘wallowy’ for our personal tastes, but it’s always fit the bill in the luxury column.
A couple of weeks ago we borrowed the 2015 Lincoln Navigator to utilize the “big” on a trip from our home in near Portland, Ore. to Seattle to board a cruise ship for Alaska. Barbara’s brother and wife joined us so we wanted something that would easily carry four adults and luggage for a week. The Navigator was perfect for the task easily swallowing up all our big bags and the ‘luxury’ proved a nice bonus providing a quiet, comfortable ride on the drive. What we didn’t expect was the level of performance and handling we’d get from the Navigator.
The current generation Navigator goes back to 2007 and isn’t due for another full remodel until 2017 when it will benefit from the new Ford F-150 pickup platform and aluminum body panels. With Navigator’s main rival, the Cadillac Escalade, getting a ground up overhaul this year, it was imperative Navigator do something to stay in the game so they did a mid-cycle refresh this year.
Cosmetically the Navigator’s big box design is unchanged, but the front and rear get the new ‘Lincoln-brand look’. The changes are not as striking as the beautiful fascias on other new Lincolns but it’s a nice temporary fix.
The interior is mostly unchanged except for the addition of an available leather-wrapped instrument panel, armrests and gear shift along with a rich-looking new Ziricote wood trim. We’d never heard of Ziricote and thought it might be one of those made-up names, but it’s an actual tree from Central and South America that is farmed to supply wood for doors and furniture in that area.
There are two significant changes to the 2015 Lincoln Navigator. The first is the new EcoBoost® V-6 engine. The previous Navigator had a 310 horsepower 5.4-liter V-8, and ranked at the bottom of the list in big SUV performance, because most of the competitors have four- and five-hundred horsepower offerings. The new 3.5-liter twin turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 is rated at 380 horsepower with 460-lb.ft. of torque (nearly 100-lb.ft. more than the V-8).
The transmission is a six-speed automatic with a SelectShift® that allows the driver to manually shift using a thumb activated toggle on the shifter to change gears. Zero to 60 mph acceleration has improved from 8.2 seconds for the V-6 to 6.2 seconds for the EcoBoost V-6. Fuel economy has improved slightly to 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined and even better for the two-wheel drive version. We actually averaged 17.4 mpg on our drive to Seattle with four adults and lots of luggage in our four-wheel drive model.
The second major change to the 2015 Lincoln Navigator is the addition of the $6,850 Reserve Package. This is one of those “must have” options that adds ultra-luxurious leather in all three rows along with hand-stitched leather trim on the doors, console and glove box. Outside the package adds massive 22-inch polished aluminum wheels, two-tone Tuxedo Black lower body side panels and power running boards that hide under the rocker panels and extend when a door is opened.
Hidden from view, but very obvious on the drive was the Lincoln Drive Control (LDC) system with continuously controlled wheel damping. The driver selects between ‘normal,’ ‘comfort’ and ‘sport’ settings and it uses sensors to read the road and make instant adjustments to the suspension for best ride and handling. The LDC doesn’t make it handle like a sport sedan, but it seems to have good stability and ride control.
Shoppers have a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive and it comes in two lengths. The longer Navigator L has a 131-inch wheel base (12-inches longer) and is about 15-inches longer with the extra space going to the cargo area. Cargo space behind the third row seat of shorter Navigator is 18.1 cubic feet and goes up to 42.6 cubic feet in the “L” model. With the second and third row seat backs folded, the L space expands to a massive 159.2 cubic feet, or what looks like enough room for a small car or boat.
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator prices start at $62,475, including the destination charge, for the two-wheel drive short wheelbase model. Four-wheel drive adds $3,575 and includes Lincoln Drive Control and Hill Descent Control. The longer “L” version is $2,165 more. The only options are the Reserve Package (mentioned above) and a few single features like metallic paint, rear seat entertainment system and different wheels.
The Navigator is well-equipped with most of the new technologies like Roll Stability Control, SOS Post-Crash Alert System, rain-sensing wipers, blind spot warning with cross-traffic alert, adaptive HID headlights and trailer sway control, but it doesn’t offer an active cruise control.
Standard equipment also includes Lincoln’s version of My Ford Touch. Like the Ford system we had a little trouble making it do what we wanted it to, but we think that it has a steeper learning curve than some of the other systems we’ve used.
We were impressed by how well the new Navigator drives. It’s very quiet, more agile than we expected and has very good performance for passing and merging into fast moving traffic. The 2015 Lincoln Navigator is in a tough category, but it does offer a conservative option to some of the other “biggies” in the category. It’s especially well-suited for towing.