It’s amazing how little has changed since the Lincoln Navigator created the American luxury full-size SUV segment in the late 1990s. When it first debuted in 1997, the Lincoln Navigator was a premium SUV based on the Ford Expedition that could seat eight people, tow a boat, and carry lots of cargo. Fast forward seventeen years, and the refreshed 2015 Lincoln Navigator is still an Expedition-based, highly-capable, enormous full-size SUV. Seems a little behind the times, no?
For 2015, though, the Lincoln Navigator moves somewhat closer to the modern era with the addition of Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine as standard on all Navigators. This twin-turbo engine is said to produce “more than” 370 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque, and will pair with a six-speed automatic to put the power to either the rear or all four wheels. This EcoBoost powerplant will replace the ancient 5.4-liter V-8, and should provide a noticeable fuel economy bump over the outgoing Navigator’s 13/18 mpg city/highway ratings when equipped with four-wheel-drive. We also expect the upcoming 2015 Ford Expedition to receive this powerplant as well when it gets refreshed within the next year.
Other than the powertrain and a new, optional adaptive suspension system, the 2015 Lincoln Navigator’s updates are largely cosmetic. A new split-wing grille up front finally aligns the Navigator with the rest of the Lincoln lineup, as do the full-width LED taillights around back. Lincoln will also offer huge, 22-inch wheels on the top Reserve trim level, and there’s a heavy heaping of chrome all around like before. Lincoln emphasizes that this upgraded jewelry is important to full-size luxury SUV customers, and that’s not hard to believe if you look at the blinged-out front end of the 2015 Cadillac Escalade.
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator will continue to be offered in standard- and long-wheelbase versions, the latter of which adds 15 inches to the Navigator’s overall length for considerably more cargo space behind the third-row seats. The Navigator either seats seven with the second-row captain’s chairs and the three-person rear bench, or a total of eight with the optional second-row bench. All three rows of seats can be trimmed in “ultra-luxurious” leather with the aforementioned Reserve package, which also adds Ziricote wood trim. From the driver’s perspective, there’s a new instrument panel with dual color LCD screens bookending an analog speedometer, along with the updated version of the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system that debuted in the 2015 Lincoln MKC with a few extra knobs and buttons for more intuitive use.
At the official reveal event for the 2015 Lincoln Navigator, brand representatives emphasized that this tweaked SUV is not one of Lincoln’s fully-redesigned, transitional models like the new Lincoln MKZ and MKC. The Navigator is still an important model for the brand, though, as evidenced by the permanence of the Navigator name in favor of Lincoln’s MK alphanumerics. It’s one of the few bright spots in the Lincoln lineup, with a small sales increase in 2013 compared with 2012 that helped combat sliding sales of models like the MKS and MKT.
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator will go on sale in early fall of this year, and is on display at the 2014 Chicago auto show. Look for more pricing, fuel economy, and powertrain details to come out closer to the Navigator’s on-sale date.