2015 Lincoln Navigator First Drive

Reviving a '90s staple.

What It Is
A luxury eight-passenger SUV with loads of luxury features.
Best Thing
Comfortable cabin, quick power delivery from the EcoBoost V-6.
Worst Thing
Vague steering made us nervous around turns.
Snap Judgment
Lincoln has made some thoughtful updates to the Navigator that will boost its appeal.


Nothing on the market is quite like the Lincoln Navigator. While it has always remained a family vehicle with plenty of space for up to eight passengers, it also has developed a bit of a bad boy image over the years. For 2015, the Navigator receives a refined look and feel thanks to updates on the exterior and powertrain.

Even the dying body-on-frame SUV segment has gotten more competitive. Cadillac has introduced a new Escalade and GMC Yukon this year, while the Infiniti QX80 and Mercedes GL-Class remain solid choices on the market. Lincoln's answer to the competition is a moderately-updated SUV, but not a fully refreshed model. Will these changes be enough to attract buyers?

2015 Lincoln Navigator Rear Three Quarter 05

Walkaround

The Navigator receives a new split-wing grille, a design Lincoln is rolling out to its entire vehicle lineup. At the rear, a jewel-like LED taillight runs the entire width of the vehicle. A total of 222 LEDs adorn the exterior, making it instantly recognizable on the road. While it still looks like a burly SUV, the new grille, lights, and body curves give it a softer, more refined appearance. Revised exhaust tips and larger 20-inch standard wheels complete the look.

Sitting Down

We weren't impressed with the fit and finish of the 2014 model, but Lincoln has made significant improvements in this area for the new model year. Seats are wide and extremely comfortable, and front seats come standard with multi-level heating and cooling functions. Real wood is a refreshing change from the sea of luxury cars with shiny faux wood accents.

An updated MyLincoln Touch adds intuitive knobs and buttons for controls that drivers access most often, including radio volume and climate functions. Other than this, it is still confusing to navigate through all the menus to arrive at the features you want.

Those in the back seats will also find a comfortable ride. Actual adults can fit in the spacious third row, and when not in use, these seats fold completely flat to the ground. Visibility is excellent thanks to long windows on all sides. A large, clear rearview camera helps park the behemoth almost anywhere.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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Driving

Having just driven the new Chevy Suburban, I was expecting a similar delay in acceleration right when I hit the gas. But the Navigator was surprisingly quick when needed, thanks to a V-6 EcoBoost engine with 380 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, more than the previous model. Overall, it felt surprisingly light on the road despite its 6,297 pound curb weight.

But this wasn't always a good thing, as we felt the steering was overly airy. The electric power steering was over-assisted, making us lose connection with the road. When going into a curve, we received very little feedback from the steering wheel until the turn was completed, putting us a bit on edge while driving on mountain roads. Still, the tires felt firmly planted to the ground and never felt off-balanced or gave us the sense that we would tip over.

Fuel economy is rated at 16/22 mpg city/highway with two-wheel drive, making it best in its class. This is up from 14/20 mpg city/highway from the previous year.

Summary

Among today's body-on-frame SUVs, the Navigator has some distinct advantages. Top fuel economy, loads of cargo room, and an attractive price point distinguish it from competitors. But it also has to compete with three-row crossovers and models with higher brand weight (Escalade, Range Rover). But for those who want a capable SUV with plenty of room and thoughtful luxury features, we would recommend the new Navigator. Most buyers will be happy with the base model, but those wanting upgraded leather and wheels can opt for the Reserve Package.

Basic Specs

3.5-liter twin-turbo direct-injection EcoBoost V-6 engine, six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, 4WD or RWD, 380-hp, $32,475, 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy (2WD) or 15/20 mpg city-highway (4WD)

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

Click thumbnails for detailed view
1 comments
James Bowen
James Bowen

Got to the end of the article and saw the starting price of $32,475 and was ready to head to the dealer to check it out until I saw the add on the same page that indicates you lost $30K somewhere along the way.   Does sound like it has improved at least.

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