2015 Lincoln Navigator
By Tony Swan
On Sale: Early Fall 2014
Expected Pricing: Starting around $58,000
Lincoln in February pulled the wraps off the 2015 Navigator, the biggest entry in its SUV collection, and also the most traditional.
Naturally, the Lincoln staff calls its big boy new, but refrains from the oft-abused all-new label. Still, while there is carryover at a fundamental level, there is sufficient newness to make a substantial difference in the Navigator's persona and performance, and to make this something more than a standard freshening.
The basic carryover element has a long history. Available in standard and long-wheelbase versions, with seating for either seven or eight, the body-on-frame chassis dates to the original Navigator, introduced as a 1998 model, and will continue to serve at least through the lifespan of this update and perhaps beyond.
Nevertheless, the newness of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator does go beneath the skin. A 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine replaces the 5.4-liter V8 that's propelled all Navigators since the 1998 model, a change that will improve both power and efficiency, according to Lincoln. The V8 was rated for 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, whereas the engineers say they expect at least 370 hp and 430 lb-ft from the twin-turbo V6.
There will be improved fuel economy to go with the power increase, according to Lincoln, although final EPA ratings won't be released until later in the development program. Ratings for the current V8-powered Navigator are 14/20 mpg City/Highway.
A 6-speed automatic transmission will send the turbo V6 power to the rear wheels (four-wheel drive optional), and the increased power will allow the Navigator to tow up to 9,000 pounds. Lincoln expects that capability to be best among big sport-utilities.
The 2015 Navigator will also arrive with a new suspension system, Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD), that monitors road conditions and various vehicle sensors to update shock absorber damping every two milliseconds, according to Lincoln. Similar in effect to Cadillac's magnetic ride system, CCD will offer three driver-select presets: normal, sport, and comfort, and should improve the Navigator's ride and handling traits.
A new electric power steering system will contribute to the handling equation, though just how remains to be seen. And 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels replace the 18-inch wheels of the current Navigator, with 22-inch wheels available as part of a highline trim package.
External newness includes a new interpretation of the Lincoln split wing grille, with horizontal bars; a new hood; HID headlamps with LED accents, a freshened rear fascia spanned by LED taillights; a power rear liftgate, and so-called welcome-mat puddle lamps illuminating the ground beneath both front doors.
Inside, the dashboard and instruments have been redesigned, there's a new steering wheel, leather upholstery extends to all three rows, and second generation versions of the SYNC infotainment and My Lincoln Touch systems, the latter including traditional knobs for radio tuning, rather than the previous touch switches.
Roominess has been a Navigator virtue since the beginning, and even though the external dimensions haven't change, Lincoln anticipates that its big utility will continue to be best in class in terms of interior volume.
Lincoln plans to begin Navigator production in August at the Ford truck plant in Louisville, Kentucky. New Navigators will reach showrooms in early fall. Pricing has not been announced. Current Navigator pricing starts at $56,165.