By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 6.9
The Lincoln Navigator was the first full-size luxury SUV introduced to Americans, and it continues to be a force to contend with. Lincoln’s 2015 Navigator SUV isn't all-new, but it gets a comprehensive update that covers the exterior, interior, suspension and powertrain. The good news is that while Lincoln has added more luxury, it hasn't taken anything away. Both short-wheelbase (SWB) and long-wheelbase (LWB) L models get a new twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine offering more power and torque and better fuel economy than the old V8, while still offering best-in-class towing capacity of up to 9,000 pounds. With new technology and a substantially upgraded interior, the new Navigator should still be able to hold its own against similarly upscale SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class and Infiniti QX80.
Lincoln’s 2015 Navigator offers up a comfortable ride, excellent tow ratings, impressive power and decent fuel economy. Unlike others, the Navigator’s 3rd-row seat can comfortably hold two adults, while a long list of premium features ensures its place among the best luxury SUVs.
KBB Expert Ratings
2015 sees the Lincoln Navigator receive a refreshed exterior design and a new interior with premium leather and wood trim. The old 5.4-liter V8 is replaced with a new 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine, and a new continuously variable dampening suspension allows drivers a choice of three settings.
After just a few hours driving the 2015 Lincoln Navigator luxury SUV, we came away mightily impressed. The new twin-turbo V6 delivers ample power, even at lower rpms, and instantaneous...
... muscle on demand. The peak 380 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, however, come only when using premium fuel. The Navigator’s available 3-mode suspension dampening allows the driver to choose between Comfort, Normal and Sport settings. We found the Comfort setting to be a bit too soft, preferring the Normal or Sport modes. An independent rear suspension helps the Navigator to feel more planted in the turns, but the handling isn’t as good as one might imagine. We also found the electric power steering felt a bit vague at times, missing the kind of feedback you’d want when negotiating twisting turns on narrow roads. As for hauling ability, the Navigator can tow up to 9,000 pounds, a best-in-class stat.
While the new 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost engine may not be the first thing you notice about the Lincoln’s Navigator for 2015, it's arguably the most important change to this SUV. With more power and torque, plus better fuel economy, it's an uncompromised improvement.
The previous Lincoln Navigator was plenty luxurious...for 2007. Times have changed though, and the new upscale leather and Ziricote wood trim bring this big SUV into decidedly more modern times.
The upgraded interior of Lincoln’s 2015 Navigator SUV is a solid improvement over earlier models. With stitched leather available on the dash, along with Ziricote wood trim – the kind used on yachts and high-end guitars – the luxury quotient is suitably met for a vehicle with a starting price in the $60,000 range. Other touches include MyLincoln Touch and its upgraded center stack controls. Yet the big SUV is still practical, with available seating for eight, and tremendous cargo capacity, especially in the longer L models, which dedicate most of their extra length to cargo space.
The bold, in-your-face style of the biggest Lincoln is alive and well on the 2015 Navigator luxury SUV. The new grille design is a step up from the previous model, especially the more conventional headlight design. The rear-end update also helps tie this biggest Lincoln into the same design language as smaller offerings from the company. 20-inch wheels are standard, with a Reserve Package upgrading them to 22 inches. On the other hand, loading heavy items into the high cargo area isn't easy, and the available motorized running boards are mandatory if kids will be climbing in and out of your Navigator.
For 2015, Lincoln generously equips the Navigator with a push-button start, SYNC with MyLincoln Touch, and safety equipment like blind-spot information, cross-traffic alert, and a backup camera. A new instrument cluster includes a 4.2-inch LCD display between the gauges, and an 8-inch display on the dash. Also standard is Nivomat, a self-leveling system that ensures the Navigator's ride height is optimal. There are also clever touches on this full-size luxury SUV. For example, the "welcome mat" puddle light under the outside mirrors , illuminates the ground when the unlock button is pressed.
In addition to rear-wheel drive (RWD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD), and standard or extended length, the 2015 Navigator luxury SUV gets a new Reserve Package adding premium leather on all three rows of seats, plus the armrests, dash and center console. Ziricote wood trim on the dash is another high-end touch, while outside, there are polished 22-inch wheels. Individual options include Lincoln Drive Control and its continuously controlled damping that adjusts the suspension every two milliseconds to ensure a composed ride. Noticeably absent from the list are Adaptive Cruise Control, foot-activated rear liftgate control, and parallel-park assist, items offered on other Ford and Lincoln cars.
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator gets new motivation in the form of a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. With 380 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, it handily outmuscles the old and outdated 5.4-liter V8. The power is transmitted through a 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. The SUV's available 4-wheel-drive system uses a 2-speed transfer case with optional electronic shift-on-the-fly capability. In low range it switches the engine's electronic throttle control to a special off-road calibration for more precise torque management in the worst conditions, such as climbing steep, slippery hills. The system also features hill-descent control and hill-start assist.
3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6
380 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm
460 lb-ft of torque @ 2,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 mpg (SWB, RWD), 15/20 mpg (LWB, RWD), 15/20 mpg (SWB, 4WD), 15/19 mpg (LWB, 4WD)
Along with the added style and equipment comes a not-surprising bump in price. The 2015 Lincoln Navigator's new Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at about $62,500, a sizeable increase from last year's model. The additional 15-inches of length on Navigator L models begins just over $64,500. If you want the Reserve Package – and you know you do – the price is just under $70,000 for the standard-sized Navigator. If you want 4WD, you'll be adding about $3,000 give or take, depending on the model. Transaction prices may vary, so check KBB's Fair Purchase Price to see what people are paying for Navigator SUVs in your area. Both Navigator models are considerably less expensive than the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, yet Kelley Blue Book projects the 5-year residual values of the standard and stretched Navigators to be nearly identical to those of the pricier Escalade models.