The 2015 Lincoln Navigator is a full-size luxury SUV. It occupies the top end of the SUV spectrum and is sold in standard and extended wheelbase editions. Available in two- and four-wheel drive configurations, the Navigator seats eight and was refreshed for 2015.
Traditional truck-based utility vehicles are no longer common. The Lincoln Navigator holds on and was itself updated for 2015. The latest edition receives front and rear fascia changes and a new engine, plus a cabin refresh that keeps this eight-passenger model relevant and competitive.
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator represents a refresh for the current model introduced in 2007. The latest edition receives new front and rear fascia. Up front, Lincoln’s now familiar split-wing grille is used, what provides a more elegant and contemporary look. To the rear, Lincoln adds full-length lighting.
The profile of the Navigator features small changes, most notably standard 20-inch wheels replacing the previous offered 18-inch wheels. Available options include a power moonroof and chrome power running boards. Also available are 22-inch polished aluminum wheels.
The interior of the Lincoln Navigator brings in a more refined look as its designers made use of leather stitching, real wood inlays, soft touch materials and chrome throughout the cabin. This model comes with a tilt and telescopic steering wheel column, with cruise and secondary audio controls on the face of the wheel. Seating is for eight — bucket seats are up front and three-place bench seats occupy the second and third rows.
The Navigator’s instrument panel is marked by a center-placed analog speedometer flanked by a pair of digitalized and adjustable displays. On the left is a driver’s information center with read outs for your current speed, the odometer, oil life and other details. On the right navigation, entertainment and phone information is supplied as part of an infotainment display.
Lincoln includes generous amounts of storage with a pair of portioned slots in each front door. There are no bottle holder spaces present, but the slots are large enough to hold files or a laptop. The rear doors have single, but even longer slot compartments.
The front bucket seats are divided by a center storage compartment containing dual slots on each side, providing an ideal place to house smartphones. Inside the compartment is a removable hanging net designed to hold your smartphone while it is being recharged. That storage area comes with a pair of USB ports, an SD card slot and a 12-volt outlet. The unit is deep enough to hold a purse or a camera bag.
Lincoln placed a pair of cup holders in front of the center storage compartment. Two more cup holders are located at the rear of the storage compartment, positioned for the second row passengers. A rear control panel containing a 12-volt outlet, a 110-volt power outlet, audio controls and climate control is also present.
Access to the third row is made by flipping and folding either second row outboard seat. Handles and pull cords make this an easy process. The rear seats contain a total of three cup holders; storage trays are embedded into each inside wall of the SUV. There is additional storage behind the third row seat, located below the floor. A full-size spare tire is included and placed underneath the rear section of the vehicle.
Overall seating is quite comfortable, but the third row seat is best used by children given that thigh support is limited. From the liftgate, a pair of switches control the third row, dropping and raising the seats as desired.
Lincoln went from a 5.4-liter V8 engine to a 3.5-liter V6 engine for the Navigator beginning with the latest model. The new engine occupies a much smaller footprint, but it is far more modern than the single overhead cam V8 the Ford Motor Company introduced in 1991. That engine had three valves per cylinder while the new engine has four valves per cylinder and also brings in turbocharging, direct fuel injection and variable valve timing.
The previous engine was rated at 310 horsepower and 365 foot-pounds of torque. The current engine is rated 380 horsepower and 460 foot-pounds of torque.
The 2015 Navigator keeps a six-speed automatic transmission. Its chief competitor, the Cadillac Escalade, is now paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The V6 provides excellent power with very little turbo lag evident. The engine’s output is robust and moves this large SUV without straining. The available Lincoln Drive Control, a continuously control damping system, adjusts the suspension system automatically to enable a better ride. Lincoln also provides three operating mode choices — comfort, normal and sport — that adjusts the driving mode for the feel you want. Electric power-assisted steering also plays in, helping to improve overall handling.
Lincoln has struggled over the past several years with improving its infotainment system. Like Ford, Lincoln had initially relied on a complicated interface that gave customers much consternation. In turn, Lincoln’s overall quality numbers plummeted.
The latest version of SYNC with MyLincoln Touch, recognizes many voice commands. Moreover, it features a color touch screen and Wi-Fi connectivity. Like every other infotainment system out there, not all voice commands are understood.
Fortunately, the system now includes more dials and switches along with a touchscreen control that offers significant improvement over the previous model.
Large, luxury sport utility vehicles trucks fall outside of the crash testing criteria conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does test these vehicles.
The last full tests for the Lincoln Navigator were conducted by the NHTSA in 2014. The 2014 and 2015 editions are essentially the same.
On a five-star scale, all four versions of the Lincoln Navigator — i.e., 4×2, 4×4, standard and stretched wheel base models — received an overall four-star rating.
In frontal crash tests the Navigator received four stars. In side crash tests this SUV was awarded a five-star rating. In rollover testing, 4×2 models received three stars and four stars for 4×4 models.
Benefiting the Lincoln Navigator is its large size and high profile, providing extra protection for occupants versus the smallest cars. This model comes equipped with a rear view camera, roll stability control, traction control, trailer sway control, hill start assist and and hill descent control. This SUV also comes with front, front side and side curtain airbags. A post crash system automatically activates the horn and the emergency flashers to help first responders find the vehicle.
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator is priced from $61,480 for the standard 4×2 edition. The extended wheelbase Navigator L is priced from $63,645. The standard 4×4 model is priced from $65,550 and the Navigator L 4×4 is priced from $67,715.
Lincoln sells the Navigator in one trim level and offers just one equipment group, Reserve, a $6,850 upgrade. The Reserve group brings in 22-inch polished aluminum wheels, power running boards in black, two-tone trim, a continuously controlled damping system, upgraded leather, upgraded wood inlays and higher quality floor mats.
Most buyers are likely to opt for the Reserve group and choose a 4×4, bringing this model up closer to $75,000. Still, the Navigator is priced lower than the Cadillac Escalade.
Demand for large, luxury sport utility vehicles has dropped dramatically in recent years in the face of higher gas prices and as smaller, but roomy crossover utility vehicle choices are added. With gas prices trending lower and expected to stay down, shoppers may choose to give the Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80 and the Lexus LX a fresh look.
The Infiniti and the Lincoln offer the best pricing, but the Lincoln seems older as the current model is a refresh based on a design released in 2007. The Navigator’s new engine is a major improvement over the previous motor and is the only V6 offered in the segment.