Test Drive: 2015 Lincoln Navigator Review

Although I have owned several Ford dealerships, and at one time a Lincoln-Mercury dealership, I have never been a huge Expedition or Navigator fan, and I express that on my radio show often. When I heard the 2015 models were finally going to change, I was eager to get my hands on one of the new models. I have the new 2015 Navigator this week.

My press fleet vehicle is the short wheelbase and it has 4-wheel drive. You can get it in the extended version as well, and also as a 2-wheel drive for slightly better fuel economy. Other than the grill, new wheel options, and LED lighting in the front and rear, Navigator is largely unchanged on the exterior, and I do not consider that to be a bad thing. I always found Navigator to be attractive, the 2015 looks more modern and more like a luxury SUV, especially with the 22” wheels my tester has.

The Navigator has always had one huge advantage, and that is the power-fold third row seat. It was the first to have a completely flat, disappearing 3rd row with just the push of a button. That remains for 2015, however many of the competitors to Navigator have caught up with the Lincoln. When they changed the third row seat in 2007, they had to go to an independent rear suspension, and as a by-product of the seat change, the Navigator got an inherently better ride and better handling.

The big change for Navigator is under the hood, which has always been my issue with this vehicle. I felt it to be underpowered with the old 5.4-liter V8, and it got 14-miles per gallon in town. The question is: will people consider the 2015 Navigator knowing it has a 6-cylinder engine, while the Cadillac Escalade has the thundering 6.2-liter V8? My answer is to drive the Navigator and look at the numbers.

I’ve been a big fan of the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine in the F150 since it came out. It works even better in the Navigator. Twin-turbos kick in to create 380-horses that will pin you to the seat. The EcoBoost solves the problem of lack of power, the fuel economy for 2015 is improved, and configured properly, the new Navigator will tow 9000 pounds. All that with a 6-cylinder engine.

Inside, the changes are significant too. Nicer materials adorn the new Navigator, subtle soft trim pieces are everywhere, stitching around the dash and steering wheel add a new level of luxury, and a larger, wood & leather steering wheel is fantastic. For the first time in my life, this interior says Lincoln, not re-badged Ford. Passenger room for second row occupants is really spacious, more so than the Escalade I tested earlier.

There are two trim levels with Navigator. The Select package is the base package and it comes nicely equipped with items like navigation system, power liftgate, power deployable running boards, and heated and cooled front seats. You also get second row-heated seats, the power third row seat, power pedals, voice activation, front and rear parking sensors, rearview camera, and ambient lighting.

My review vehicle is the stepped-up Reserve package, which includes an even nicer interior, premium leather, the 22” 20-spoke aluminum wheels, and Lincoln Drive Control. It will cost you $6850 to move up to the top-of-the-line Reserve package.

Lincoln has done more to reinvigorate its brand than simply changing its name to The Lincoln Motor Company, but Lincoln’s enhancements run much further than skin deep and in order to experience the most innovative among them-like Lincoln Drive Control- you would have to get behind the wheel.

Lincoln Drive Control in not simply one feature, but rather a combination of three technologies. The first aspect of the revolutionary drive train is continuously controlled damping. This feature utilizes 12 sensors to constantly monitor suspension and body motion. It is then able to adjust the suspension in milliseconds to deliver the smoothest ride possible. Chose from normal, comfort, or sport settings depending on what you desire at the time. Changing the suspension makes a notable difference in the driving experience of Navigator.

The second aspect of Lincoln Drive Control is electric power-assisted steering, which automatically adjusts the firmness of the steering depending on your speed; fluid steering at low speeds and a tighter feel at high speeds.

Finally, Lincoln Drive Control employs active noise control, so that your driving experience is not only smooth, but quiet – free of outside distractions, and make no mistake, this is an extremely quiet SUV.

For 2015, the Navigator price went up roughly $6000 from the 2014, and it could have been more. A few years back when I was personally in the market for a large SUV, I chose the Escalade. With the changes to the 2015 Lincoln, it would be a very difficult decision today.

What I liked most: Performance, interior, capability.

What I would change: I would love to have a 7-speed automatic for better mileage.

MSRP: Base price $65,066. As equipped $72,400.

Fuel Economy: 15 City/20 highway/17 combined (4-wheel drive)

Odometer reading when tested: 3240 miles.

Weight: 6069 Pounds.

Length-Width-Height: 207.4” long/91.8” wide/78.1” High.

Fuel Tank Capacity: 28 gallons.

Towing Capacity: 8600 pounds.

2015 Lincoln Navigator in a few words: Truly a Lincoln, not a gussied-up Ford.

Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, 6-year/70,000 mile powertrain coverage, 2 years/24,000 complimentary maintenance.

Manufacturer’s website: http://www.lincoln.com/navigator/2015/

Photo Credit: Lincoln

 

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