Large luxury SUVs like the Lincoln Navigator still get sold to about 80,000 buyers every year. Even though sales are just a fraction of what they were 10 years ago, buyers with large families, larger toys and even larger wallets still want seating for up to eight, a towing capacity as high as 9000 pounds, and a starting price around $60,000. For them, there are a limited number of choices for vehicles like the Navigator.
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.
Navigator is based on a seven-year-old platform with unchanged exterior dimensions. Except for the hood and the tailgate, the sheetmetal is carryover. Up front, there’s a split-wing grille that gives Navigator a touch of brand identity
Inside the Navigator 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.
As with most 3-row configurations, 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 situation. Navigator’s independent rear suspension, rather than a solid axle, allows the third row to be packaged more efficiently.
Navigator has the latest version of the brand’s infotainment interface, MyLincolnTouch, and adopts the company’s latest touchscreen electronics interface that allows you to customize instrument panel displays. 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.
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
Under the hood, the 5.4-liter V-8 has been replaced with Ford’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6. As the only power source available, it produces 380 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, through a carry-over six-speed automatic and either rear- or all-wheel drive.
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. The long-wheelbase versions come in at 17 mpg combined (15/20) and 16 mpg combined (15/19) for 2WD and 4WD, respectively
The body-on-frame layout is a derivative of current Ford F-150 arrangement, with an independent multilink suspension at the rear. The new engine has made it possible to switch from hydraulic to electrically assisted steering and optional adjustable adaptive dampers.
Thanks to its independent rear suspension 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.
Even with all of its 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.
With its quiet cabin and smooth, relaxed ride, the 2015 Navigator keeps the previous Navigator’s personality. The boost in engine output 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.