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2015 Lincoln Navigator: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader May 2015

The 2015 Lincoln Navigator is one of the few remaining full-size body-on-frame luxury SUVs. Its primary competition comes from the Cadillac Escalade, but it could also be matched with the Lexus LX 570, Infiniti QX80 or GMC Yukon Denali.

Although the current Navigator still uses the same frame as the previous model, the 2015 version sees major improvements in the areas of ride, interior quality and powertrain performance. A new split-winged grille shared by Lincoln's other cars and SUVs helps reinforce the company's signature look, while 20-inch machined alloy wheels and LED running lights round out the exterior upgrades.

The Navigator's interior also receives a much-needed makeover and now includes more soft-touch surface, better-quality leather and a configurable instrument cluster. MyLincoln Touch, a source of much criticism in the past, has been improved by the addition of more hard buttons and rotary knobs used to control audio and temperature settings. The menu selection has also been simplified.

For 2015, Lincoln's Navigator is offered in one trim with an optional Reserve Package upgrade on both the standard and long wheelbase models.

What's New for 2015?

The Navigator gets a complete overhaul this year, with new styling, a new interior and a new suspension. Last year's V8 is replaced by a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6.

What We Like

Strong engine; best-in-class towing; handsome interior; good fuel economy; impressive handling for a vehicle of its size

What We Don't

Missing some high-tech options such as adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance; no power folding second-row seat; MyLincoln Touch can still be finicky at times

How Much?

$62,475-$78,750

Fuel Economy

A twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 powers the 2015 Lincoln Navigator. Those accustomed to a V8 engine might question the wisdom of such a move, but after one drive, we're certain there will be no doubters left standing. The new EcoBoost engine delivers more power and better fuel economy than its predecessor, pumping out an impressive 380 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy figures for 2-wheel-drive models are 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway (15 mpg city/20 mpg hwy for the L) and 15 mpg city/20 mpg hwy when 4-wheel drive is added to the mix (15 mpg city/19 mpg hwy for the L).

Standard Features & Options

Lincoln offers the Navigator in one well-equipped trim. A long wheelbase L model adds and additional 14 inches to the Navigator's length, providing more cargo and passenger space.

The Navigator ($62,475, 2-wheel drive; $66,050, 4-wheel drive) includes 20-in polished wheels, SYNC audio with the voice-activated MyLincoln Touch system, bi-xenon headlamps, dual automatic climate control with rear seat controls, perforated leather seating on the first and second rows, 10-way power driver and passenger seats with power recline and 2-way power lumbar support, heated and cooled front seats, power folding 60/40 third-row seat, power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, voice-activated navigation, THX II 5.1 surround sound audio, blind spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, rear backup camera, MyKey remote fob with push-button start, a heavy-duty trailer tow package, power adjustable pedals, a power rear liftgate, self-leveling rear suspension and remote start.

The Navigator L ($64,640, 2-wheel drive; $68,215, 4-wheel drive) includes all the same equipment.

Both models can be outfitted with the Reserve Package, which adds premium leather seating in all three rows, Lincoln Drive Control adaptive suspension, Ziricote wood trim and a hand-wrapped leather dash, door panels, console and steering wheel. Combined with a piano black finish on the power running boards, its 22-in wheels give the Navigator a more stealth appearance. Reserve models also get a few more paint color options.

Stand-alone options include a power sunroof, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, 22-in polished wheels and 4.10 axle on the short wheelbase Navigator.

Safety

The Navigator includes all mandated safety equipment including front, side and side-curtain airbags. Also standard are Lincoln's AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control, SOS Post-Crash Alert system and, on 4WD models, Hill Descent Control. In crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Navigator received five out of five stars overall, with three out of five stars in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not tested the 2015 Navigator.

Behind the Wheel

For an SUV weighing in at 5,800 pounds (6,300 for the 4-wheel-drive L), the Navigator is surprisingly easy to control. A new electric power steering setup returns good feedback, and we found the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 to never lack. There is ample torque delivered around 2,500-2,750 rpm, and the 6-speed automatic does an excellent job of holding gears when power is needed, and then shifting to the most efficient gear when cruising. Losing the V8 hasn't suppressed any of the Navigator's towing ability and it retains its best-in-class status with a maximum tow rating of 9,00 pounds.

When the Reserve Package is included, the Navigator gains Lincoln Drive Control with continuously controlled dampening. The system contains three driver-selectable suspension settings: Comfort, Normal and Sport. We found the Comfort setting to be the most enjoyable, delivering a soft, smooth ride without giving into float and wallow. The Sport setting, with its firmer ride, seemed to improve cornering when encountering tight turns, but also made the ride noticeably stiff.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Cadillac Escalade -- The Escalade costs significantly more than the Navigator and offers more high-tech features and more powerful engine. However, the Escalade's third-row seat isn't as comfortable or accommodating.

2015 Lexus LX 570 -- The Lexus LX 570 costs more than the Navigator, but can't match the Lincoln for fuel economy or towing. The LX 570's rear seats are not as spacious or convenient, either.

2015 GMC Yukon Denali -- Like the Escalade, the Denali offers more premium tech features than the Navigator, and it has an optional 420-hp V8. The Denali also cost less than the Navigator.

Used Land Rover Range Rover -- A 2012-2014 Land Rover Ranger Rover is considered to be the ultimate premium luxury SUV, and it has the added advantage of true off-road ability. The Range Rover's fuel economy isn't spectacular, though, and its third-row seat is tiny.

Autotrader's Advice

If you don't need to regularly haul six passengers, we'd avoid the L and get the short wheelbase Navigator with the Reserve Package, power sunroof and rear-seat entertainment center. All-wheel drive probably isn't necessary if you don't do a lot of towing or live where snow and ice are regular visitors.

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2015 Lincoln Navigator: New Car Review - Autotrader