Lincoln Navigator — Updated styling, more power, new features

By David Finkelstein

It's big, brawny, has a commanding footprint, and is quite purposeful. I'm describing the 2015 Lincoln Navigator “full-size” sport utility vehicle. With three-row seating and overwhelming amounts of cargo carrying capabilities, you can travel in total luxury inside a whisper-quiet cabin.

And to help further make your drive experience that much more pleasurable — even at highway speeds — the Navigator is completely vibration free. That in itself is quite remarkable, as it challenges engineers to address just about every moving component to achieve a notable world-class driving existence. And what makes this even more compelling is the fact this SUV is developed on a full underside truck chassis and suspension.

Clearly, the 2015 Lincoln Navigator offers up a welcomed interpretation of a full-size luxury SUV, in this specialty automotive segment.

It now has a more powerful engine, redesigned exterior, updated interior and customer focused “on board” technologies such as advances in SYNC and MyLincoln Touch user friendly systems. It allows drivers to use voice-activated or touch screen controls to make phone calls, play music, manage the navigation system or set cabin temperature.

The system includes a 4.2-inch LCD screen in the instrument cluster and an 8-inch touch screen in the center stack coupled with traditional knob controls for easy operation.

The newly introduced 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine uses EcoBoost technology delivering more power and torque than does the previous-generation Navigator. The direct-injected engine is rated at 380 horsepower, as certified by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The EPA-estimated “best-in-class” fuel economy numbers show 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined. Those EPA numbers reflect the standard wheelbase version and the rear-wheel drive chassis.

Now made available with the flagship "Reserve Package" trim level that includes a leather-wrapped instrument panel, door armrests and gear shift selector, premium wood trim appointments, refined upgraded premium leather seating surfaces on all rows, and 22-inch attractive polished aluminum wheels. The Reserve Package also offers power operated running boards in Tuxedo Black or bright stainless steel.

“The 2015 Lincoln Navigator provides many upgrades over the outgoing model, offering customers — whether loyal Navigator owners or drivers new to the brand — new and compelling reasons to consider driving a Navigator,” said Matt VanDyke, director, global Lincoln.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starts out at $62,475. This price point also includes factory destination and delivery charges.

As we take a deeper look, the exterior design changes are brought to one's attention by the signature Lincoln split-wing front grille. This more refined appearance is generally what Lincoln customers demand. The sleek front end includes a newly designed engine hood bonnet cover and the rear features a power liftgate access door.

The Navigator also has jewel-like daytime running lights as well as high-intensity discharge adaptive headlamps with LED accents. A total of 222 LEDs illuminate the exterior and give Navigator a distinct personality. The vehicle comes standard with 20-inch ultra-bright machined aluminum wheels fitted with all-weather tires.

The Navigator continues to be available in two different wheelbase lengths. The standard wheelbase is 119 inches and the extended stretch version is 131 inches.

Bumper to bumper, roof to floor, the 2015 Navigator was built with a comfortable passenger experience in mind. Acoustic laminated glass called SoundScreen, enhanced carpet, headliner and insulated door and floor panels combine to create a quieter interior.

Personally, I would have welcomed additional soft touch interior panels and being able to view the driver's seat power controls in a more accessible location.

When properly equipped, the Navigator also delivers best-in-class towing of 9,000 pounds with maximum payload of 1,570 pounds. Navigator’s six-speed automatic transmission includes Lincoln SelectShift, which allows the driver to manually control gears if so desired. Navigator is available in rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations. An available Control Trac four-wheel-drive system enhances traction on slippery surfaces.

Under the heading of road mannerisms, handling is enhanced with standard electric power-assisted steering. The Lincoln Drive Control option offers continuously controlled damping, a technology applied to the suspension that monitors multiple vehicle sensors and road conditions every two milliseconds and adjusts suspension needs accordingly.

The driver can customize the vehicle ride by selecting one of three control modes: normal, sport and comfort. Also standard on select package models is a load-leveling system that raises the rear end, once its fully loaded to optimum ride height for improved handling. Designed to seat up to eight, a second-row option includes two captain’s chairs with or without a center console, or a fold-flat bench. A power fold third row seating arrangement is also offered.

Illuminated puddle lamps greet the driver and passenger's when the unlock button on the key fob is pressed. A standard Blind Spot Information system signals when another vehicle is detected in an adjacent lane.

The 2015 Lincoln Navigator is manufactured at Ford's Louisville, Ky., Truck Plant. At road test with a few options and destination charges added, the MSRP came to $73,895.