First Look: 2015 Lincoln Navigator

By Jacob Brown | January 22, 2014
Of course, the Lincoln Navigator wasn't the first full-size luxury SUV. That would be the Range Rover. But the Lincoln Navigator provides a historical footnote as the first popular, mainstream luxury SUV--you know, the one that was in all of the rap songs. It was the one that sold in huge quantities; it was said that the Navigator once provided Ford with more than two-thirds of its revenue from Lincoln. That was 1998. Since then, the competition has caught up and surpassed the mighty Lincoln. The Lincoln Navigator was last redesigned in 2007 and bore a face that was from a failed attempt for the company to revive its 1960s style. While other models were refreshed or replaced to eliminate the cross-hatch grille, Lincoln kept it on the Navi. Now, for 2015, Lincoln has seen fit to heavily fortify its big luxury SUV in an attempt to fully modernize its lineup. Large SUVs sell in ever-dwindling numbers, and Cadillac Escalades are now what rappers rhyme on about, but Lincoln will try to change that with the help of a friend called EcoBoost.

What's New

First and foremost, that engine. But more on that later. Let's talk about everything that surrounds it.
Unlike the 2015 Cadillac Escalade, the 2015 Lincoln Navigator is not an all-new model; it's a heavily refreshed version of the current SUV. Still, everything that will lay your eyes on in the new Navigator is new. Up front, Lincoln's split-hair grille takes focus. Further highlighting its blinding chrome radiance are standard 20-inch wheels and available 22-inchers in the Reserve package. The Navigator will come in regular- and long-wheelbase configurations, with a heavily updated interior serving as perhaps the part of the vehicle that got the most attention. Leather adorns the dashboard, and Ziricote wood, which is most commonly used in yachts, serves as decoration inside, at least when paired with the Reserve package.

Engine and Drivetrain

Most pleasantly, Ford is replacing the 2015 Lincoln Navigator's old V-8 engine exclusively with a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 engine that's estimated to produce 370 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the outgoing 310-horsepower/365 pound-feet 5.4-liter V-8, the new engine will produce significantly more oomph that should put it in the same ballpark as the Mercedes-Benz GL450. The Cadillac Escalade will come powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Of course, weight will have a deciding factor in the Navigator's on-road performance.
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and is available with rear- or four-wheel drive. It is expected that the Navigator's fuel economy will improve significantly from the current four-wheel-drive's dismal 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway. It is also expected that the 2015 Lincoln Navigator will be a smoother, quieter operator.

Our Thoughts

This veritable cash cow was left to starve in the wake of refocusing Lincoln and a massive recession that shook the U.S. economy to its foundation. Where Cadillac seemingly always strove the keep the Escalade relevant, sheltering it from much of the late-2000s political battering that ended the Hummer brand, Lincoln just left well enough alone.
Now, Lincoln is playing catch-up with a decidedly different kind of luxury SUV from its American rival. Ford has found great success with its EcoBoost engine lineup, positioning them as premium options. It makes sense, then, that its flagship SUV and the most expensive vehicle the brand sells comes with one of these engines. But will any of this help boost sales? Only time will tell.
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