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2015 Lincoln Navigator Luxury SUV Review

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
January 19, 2015
6 min. Reading Time
2015 Lincoln Navigator ・  Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2015 Lincoln Navigator ・ Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Profitable, yet unpopular cars and trucks are rarely eliminated wholesale from an automaker's line-up but rather fade away into the background, haunting a solitary plot of showroom space ignored by both product planners and customers alike as the years pile on.  The 2015 Lincoln Navigator's recent refresh is an attempt to inject some life into a full-size luxury SUV that has lurked, zombie-like, in the cupboard of a company trying to chart a clear course in the premium market. 

There are hints of success sprinkled throughout the Navigator's DNA - particularly under the hood, where a dramatic shift away from V-8 power has done wonders to improve the vehicle's performance - but it's a case of too little, too late.  Lincoln has fallen too far behind class-leaders like the Cadillac Escalade and the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class in terms of refinement, power, and curb appeal, and it's going to have a hard time making a play for buyers in the ever-shrinking traditional full-size SUV segment.

Models and Prices

There are two main Navigator models: the base standard-wheelbase edition and the long-wheelbase L version of the SUV.  I drove a standard-wheelbase 2015 Lincoln Navigator for a week, which I assure you will be large enough for most people's needs.  With a starting MSRP of $61,920, the entry-level Navigator features HID headlights, dual automatic climate control, heated and cooled front seats with power adjustment, keyless entry and ignition, auto-retracting running boards, 20-inch rims, a tow package, parking assistance, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, seven-passenger seating, Bluetooth connectivity and navigation via the MyLincoln Touch interface, and a surround sound audio system. 

There are a few options you can add to the Navigator, but it's a single-trim vehicle.  The version I tested also came with four-wheel drive, a sunroof, and 22-inch rims, boosting its sticker price to $68,490.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting


  • The 2015 Lincoln Navigator features new front and rear fascias.
  • The interior of the SUV has also been re-styled.

After going its own way on the style front for a number of years, the 2015 Lincoln Navigator is back in the fold - at least, when taking into consideration its 'waterfall' grille and headlights, which are new for the current model year and which enlarge similar designs seen on the MKZ and MKS sedans.  From the back the Navigator continues to offer huge glass on its liftgate, along with full-length rear lighting that incorporates tail lamps that slice into the fenders just below the side window.  Everything else about the Navigator's exterior appearance carries over from the year before, which is both good and bad depending on how enamored you were with the Lincoln's slab-sided, rectangular shape.

The luxury automaker has gone to great lengths to give the 2015 Lincoln Navigator's dashboard and door trim a higher end feel than they had previously, with the solution being to install nicer leather and add a more pronounced dual-cowl look to the front of the vehicle.  The Navigator certainly feels upscale inside, at least from the two forward positions, but the further back you look in the passenger compartment the less premium the vehicle starts to appear, resembling its less-expensive Ford Expedition SUV sibling.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Comfort and Cargo

  • The 2015 Lincoln Navigator does not introduce any new comfort or cargo features beyond upgraded leather upholstery.

The 2015 Lincoln Navigator's bulk isn't all for show, as its hulking exterior conceals an extremely practical passenger compartment that can transport as many as eight people if the second row buckets are traded in for a bench at ordering time.  My tester came in a seven-passenger configuration and featured a rear center console, and while the third and fourth positions were comfy enough I wouldn't want to spend too much time in the 'back-back' of the Navigator unless I was a young child.  That same third row of accommodations power-folds into the floor to reveal as much as 103 cubic feet of storage space with the second set of seats out of the picture as well - a number that grows to 128 cubes in the Navigator L.  These figures eclipse the cargo carrying capacity of the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, respectively.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Features and Controls

  • The 2015 Lincoln Navigator now offers the same configurable MyLincoln Touch gauge cluster as other Lincoln models.
  • Updated MyLincoln Touch controls on the center stack swap in knobs and buttons for accessing stereo and climate features.

When MyLincoln Touch first debuted many complaints were made regarding the touch-sensitive surfaces on the center stack, as well as how unresponsive the system's primary touchscreen could be.  The latest edition of MyLincoln Touch found with the 2015 Lincoln Navigator addresses each of these concerns, and while there are still times where you have to double-tap on-screen menu selections to get your point across, there's no doubt that spinning a knob to adjust the entertainment system's volume is far easier than trying to use a touch-sensitive button to do the same.

The gauge cluster has also been updated with an analog speedo in the middle flanked by a pair of small LCD screens that can show off a wide variety of vehicle information or be used to control communications and stereo functions by way of buttons on the steering wheel.  I'm not a big fan of the speedometer's look - a little too plastic for my tastes - but I do appreciate the MyLincoln Touch screens that come with it, as they make it very easy to keep a handle on what the infotainment system is up to while you're underway.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Safety and Ratings

  • The 2015 Lincoln Navigator does not introduce any new safety equipment for the current model year.

There's not a lot of active safety equipment available with the 2015 Lincoln Navigator, but what does come with the SUV is included as standard.  A blind-spot monitoring system is as exotic as the Navigator gets, and the rear cross-traffic alert system integrated into this feature is much appreciate in such a large vehicle.  There's also a full complement of airbags inside the Lincoln (including side curtain airbags that extend along the entire length of the truck's massive passenger compartment), and electronic traction control and stability control are present and accounted for too.

The NHTSA has awarded the Lincoln Navigator four out of five possible stars for overall crash safety, while the IIHS has yet to crash test the SUV.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Engines and Fuel Economy

  • The 2015 Lincoln Navigator ditches its old 5.4-liter V-8 in favor of an EcoBoost V-6.

Stop the press: the Lincoln Navigator's dated, slow, and inefficient 5.4-liter V-8 has finally been kicked to the curb, and its replacement is a better-in-ever-possible-way 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6.  This twin-turbo unit annihilates the old eight-cylinder Navigator's performance by way of its 380 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, providing huge gains over 2014's motor not just in acceleration, but in efficiency as well: in addition to 95 additional lb-ft of twist, the Navigator provides two extra miles per gallon for both city and highway measures (16-mpg city / 22-mpg highway).  Four-wheel drive remains an option with the Lincoln, while a six-speed automatic transmission is included as standard equipment.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Driving Impressions

One can't expect a big-and-tall full-size SUV like the 2015 Lincoln Navigator to display any hint of athleticism from behind the wheel, especially given that its mission is to offer unruffled luxury transportation and occasionally tow a 9,000 lb load.  What I wasn't counting on was the truck displaying the kind of unstable road manners in slippery, snowy weather that had me uncomfortable driving it at anything above 30-mph. 

In the dry the Navigator acted much like its Expedition platform-twin, displaying composed, if not precise cornering capability and respectable compliance.  Once the snow fell, however, even with four-wheel drive engaged the Lincoln felt like a foal learning how to ice skate for the very first time, slipping, sliding, and losing traction with such alarming regularity that I had to rein in my normal driving style and proceed much more cautiously than road conditions warranted.  I haven’t experienced this type of uncertain footing while piloting a full-size SUV in recent memory, and while the vehicle was outfitted with winter rubber I wonder if perhaps the tires were to blame for what ended up being a hair-raising week driving the truck.

Despite its lack of handling confidence, I couldn't fault the Lincoln Navigator in the ride department.  The same suspension that was so befuddled by winter's wrath was eminently capable of protecting riders from shocks and bumps, delivering exactly what one would expect in terms of comfort from a luxury sport-utility vehicle of this size.  Another bright spot: in a straight line, and prior to the slush and ice taking over Montreal's streets, I was seriously impressed with just how much better the EcoBoost motor was at accelerating the Lincoln suv, whether from a dead stop or when passing at highway speeds.  This engine should have been in the Navigator years ago, as its combination of reasonable frugality (for its size) and exceptional torque are a perfect match for the Lincoln's target market.  The 3.5-liter, twin-turbo engine is also exceptionally smooth, and never ran out of breath in the same way that the thankfully-departed 5.4-liter did.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Final Thoughts

The 2015 Lincoln Navigator is a victim of neglect.  It's hard to play catch-up after having been ignored for so many years from an engineering and design perspective, and while I can understand Lincoln not wanting to dump too many dollars into an area of the market that has seen its importance evaporate, offering a non-competitive full-size luxury SUV isn't going to help the brand find the identity it's so desperately seeking. 

Excellent EcoBoost engine and extra cargo space aside, there's really nothing to recommend the Navigator over rivals like the Cadillac Escalade or GMC Yukon Denali.  In all honesty, the Ford Expedition Platinum - which offers almost identical amenities wrapped in a slightly less-imposing package - is a far better deal if you've got a serious premium truck jones.  When the badge on the grille is no longer enough to warrant a recommendation over a corporate sibling, it's clear that Lincoln needs to put serious thought into whether a traditional full-size SUV should remain in its future plans.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Pros and Cons


  • New and improved styling inside and out.
  • Comfortable and practical passenger compartment.
  • Good towing capability.
  • Available four-wheel drive.
  • Powerful EcoBoost V-6 engine.


  • Unstable in snowy weather.
  • Doesn't offer enough additional equipment to justify pricing as compared to in-house Ford Expedition rival.
  • No badge recognition associated with Lincoln brand makes it a hard sell in the luxury segment.
  • Third row room not great for adults.

Ford Canada supplied the vehicle for this review.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting


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