2015 Lincoln NavigatorPosted on March 26th, 2015
Lincoln’s full-size SUV is more than a pretty face
By Nina Russin
This year Lincoln introduces an all-new Navigator full-size sport-utility vehicle, building on the original formula with significant improvements to fuel economy, ride, handling and infotainment technology. First and foremost is a new twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that delivers 380 horsepower and 460 foot-pounds of peak torque. By comparison, the considerably larger 5.4-liter V-8 in the original 1998 model delivered 230-horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque.
In addition to producing thirty percent more power, the new EcoBoost block is significantly thriftier at the fuel pump, averaging 18 miles-per-gallon for the rear-wheel drive model and 17 for the four-by-four test car. By comparison, the ’98 model puttered along at 12 miles-per-gallon.
Designers refreshed the exterior with a new hood and LED lighting. Standard daytime running lamps make the SUV easier to see on winding canyon roads while adaptive front headlamps light the corners of dark rural roads at night.
Pricing for the four-wheel drive standard wheelbase car tested begins at $66,055 excluding the $995 destination charge. Options on the test car include a reserve option package that adds Lincoln drive control, 22-inch alloy rims and power running boards and special paint. Final MSRP is $73,395.
Test drive in Arizona
This week, I put the newest Navigator through its paces on surface streets and highways in Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley as well as the Bush Highway that runs north-to-south along the western border of the Superstition Mountains.
I wanted to see how well the new engine could handle elevation changes, and how the electric power steering system responded to the off-camber turns on Bush Highway. I also had the chance to use the Navigator hauling people and their gear, much as an owner might on a daily basis.
Although the market for full-size sport-utility vehicles is smaller than it once was due to the popularity of car-based crossover vehicles, the truck-based Navigator still plays an important role in Lincoln’s line-up, offering customers a vehicle with serious cargo and towing capability as well as four-wheel drive. The newest model tows up to 9,000 pounds, with a maximum payload of 1,570 pounds. Buyers can opt for a load-leveling feature, improving handling when the Navigator is towing a heavy trailer.
The test car, equipped with second-row captain’s chairs seats seven, while models equipped with second-row bench seats can hold eight passengers. Buyers desiring a larger cargo bay can opt for the long-wheelbase model. While the test car doesn’t have an abundance of room behind the third-row seats, a power folding function makes it easy to collapse the back seats flat for larger items such as skis, snowboards and bicycles.
The EcoBoost engine and six-speed automatic transmission deliver on all of the fronts the car’s engineers promised, with solid acceleration off the line and plenty on the high end for passing slower vehicles at speed. The six-speed automatic transmission progresses smoothly through the gears with no obvious shift shock during normal driving conditions.
Electric power steering saves mass under the hood for better fuel economy. A 39-foot turning circle makes it possible to perform U-turns on wider suburban roads. On-center response is a bit soft, typical of these systems, but by no means unwieldy.
Standard blind spot monitoring makes it easy to monitor traffic in adjacent lanes on the highway for less stressful commuting through rush-hour traffic. A rearview camera with cross traffic alert is also standard so drivers can see moving cars and pedestrians in back of the car.
The four-wheel drive model comes with hill descent control, enabling the driver to maintain directional control on steep hills without feathering the brakes. Standard hill start assist holds the brakes for a couple of seconds after the driver takes his foot off the pedal so the car can’t slide backwards when accelerating from a stop on a grade.
Optional Lincoln drive on the test car makes instantaneous adjustments to suspension damping according to road conditions and the driver’s style. The four-wheel independent suspension is smooth as silk over the pitchy hills and dips on Bush Highway, but doesn’t suffer from the floating feeling that makes drivers feel disconnected from the pavement in some competitive models.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the vehicle in firm-linear fashion.
Engineers used special sound insulating glass to enhance interior quiet, making it easy for passengers in all three rows to converse on the highway.
The Navigator’s redesigned interior features leather upholstery with wood trim and a redesigned steering wheel. Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for his key fob. An alphanumeric access pad is a handy way for multiple passengers to unlock the car. It’s a great feature for friends and family who need to get in and out of the car at a campsite or trailhead.
I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view. The vehicle automatically remembers seat and steering wheel position. Power running boards on the test car makes access and egress easier for smaller individuals.
Infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate. Redundant steering wheel controls minimize driver distraction. An information display in the gauge cluster includes an electronic compass and ambient temperature.
Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. Owners can use standard MyLincoln Touch with Sync to program the audio system, navigation or make phone calls using voice commands.
Although buyers lose a seating position by opting for the second-row captain’s chairs, the arrangement creates a large path to the third row of seats. Adults should be quite comfortable in the second row. The third row is best for kids or smaller adults.
The Lincoln Navigator comes with front and side airbags, the safety canopy that protects all three rows of occupants, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, daytime running lamps, trailer sway control, hill start assist, hill descent control, tire pressure monitoring, blind spot monitoring and a rearview camera with cross traffic alert.
Lincoln builds the Navigator in its Louisville, Kentucky truck plant.
Like: A stylish, luxurious yet practical sport-utility vehicle with the ability to haul heavy cargo, up to eight passengers and tow up to 9,000 pounds. Standard safety features such as the rearview camera with cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring make the full-size SUV as easy to drive as a passenger car.
Dislike: Lincoln recommends the use of premium unleaded to replicate horsepower and torque ratings listed in specifications. The engine can run safely on regular unleaded gasoline but may not have as much power.
Model: Navigator 4X4
Base price: $66,055
As tested: $73,395
Horsepower: 380 Hp @ 5250 rpm
Torque: 460 lbs.-ft. @ 2750 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 15/20 mpg city/highway.2015, Luxury 2015, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Lincoln, performance, pricing, standard safety
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