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2015 Ford Expedition vs. 2015 Lincoln Navigator: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2015

If you're looking for a full-size SUV, the 2015 Ford Expedition and 2015 Lincoln Navigator have probably come up in your research -- the Expedition being the more mainstream choice, with the Navigator a more luxurious option. But aside from a few luxury features and different price tags, what actually separates the Expedition and the Navigator? In order to find out, we've compared the two SUVs in several key categories.

Exterior

Despite mechanical and size similarities, the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator actually boast a lot of important visual differences. In fact, Ford has done an excellent job distinguishing the two SUVs. Sure, they share the same overall profile and the same unique C-pillar design. But otherwise, the Expedition and the Navigator boast different wheels, different front and rear ends, and different exterior trim just about everywhere you look. Based on the grilles alone, we suspect most shoppers will never confuse the Expedition and the Navigator.

Interior

Inside, the two SUVs are a little more similar. Yes, the Navigator boasts slightly nicer materials -- but we emphasize slightly. It's way off the lead for the full-size luxury-SUV segment and only a slight step above the Expedition in terms of overall quality. And many items are directly carried over, such as the gear lever, the turn-signal stalk and the window switches. There are a few noticeable differences, though, such as the Navigator's retro dashboard compared to the Expedition's more contemporary look, as well as the Navigator's rectangular air vents next to the Expedition's circular units.

Mechanicals

Under the hood, the Expedition and Navigator are virtually identical. Powering both SUVs is a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine, which makes 365 horsepower in the Expedition and 380 hp in the Navigator -- a difference so small it's essentially imperceptible, especially due to the Navigator's additional weight. Fuel economy reaches as high as 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 miles per gallon on the highway for 2-wheel-drive versions of both models or 15 mpg city/20 mpg hwy if you opt for 4-wheel drive.

Features & Technology

When it comes to equipment, the Navigator has a lot more standard features than its Expedition sibling, but that's to be expected: The Navigator costs far more, starting around $62,900 compared to the Expedition's base price of around $45,300.

With that said, there are few features offered by the Navigator that you can't get as an option in the Expedition. For instance, the Navigator comes standard with ventilated seats, which is part of an option package in even the base-level Expedition XLT. Same goes with leather upholstery and an 8-inch center touchscreen. And the Navigator comes standard with 20-in wheels, which are standard on the midlevel Expedition Limited.

Of course, by the time you've equipped your Expedition to Navigator specs, you'll also be close to Navigator prices. At that point, you may want to seriously think about whether you'd rather have a Lincoln or a really nice Ford.

Driving Experience

Although we'd like to say that the Navigator easily justifies its price premium over the Expedition when you climb behind the wheel, that's not quite true. Yes, the large Lincoln does feel a bit more comfortable than its Ford sibling -- and it feels just a tad more powerful and a little quieter, too.

But in day-to-day driving, both the 2015 Ford Expedition and the 2015 Lincoln Navigator feel about the same; that is to say, they both feel like large, lumbering SUVs designed with ride comfort as their top priority. Both the Expedition and the Navigator offer a smooth, comfortable ride, both boast a powerful engine, and both tout a "king of the road" driving position and excellent visibility. But when you're behind the wheel, neither one is dramatically different from the other.

Safety

In crash testing carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator earned a perfect 5-star overall score. Neither model has been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

When it comes to safety equipment, both the Navigator and the Expedition lag behind some newer rivals. Yes, both SUVs offer everything you need, such as side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, parking sensors and a backup camera. And the two SUVs offer a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert. But some of the latest high-tech features are still missing, including lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert, automatic braking and lane-keep assist -- items many rivals have at the $50,000-and-up price point.

Conclusions

Despite divergent styling, there is a lot of similarities between the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator. The two SUVs boast similar interiors, near-identical engines and roughly the same level of technology -- once you tack on a lot of options to the Expedition. Which one you'll want to buy depends on exactly how much of a premium you're willing to pay for the Lincoln brand name and the Navigator's most upscale styling. We also suggest that you shop the competition, as the Expedition and Navigator have a lot of newer, better-equipped rivals from brands such as Cadillac, Chevrolet, Infiniti and Land Rover.

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Used 2015 Ford Expedition XLT
Used 2015 Ford Expedition
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Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Used 2015 Ford Expedition XLT
Used 2015 Ford Expedition
$26,995
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Ford Expedition vs. 2015 Lincoln Navigator: What's the Difference? - Autotrader