2015 Lincoln Navigator gets lots of updates, still not all-new [w/video]Thu, 06 Feb 2014
If there's one brand that could really use some fresh, all-new product, it's Lincoln. The MKC crossover is on the way and looks promising, but the just-revealed 2015 model year update of its fullsize Navigator would appear to stop somewhere short of being "all-new." This, despite replacing a product that's been on the market since 2007. Oh sure, there's a brash new face, complete with the company's love or hate split-wing grille, and the revised rear-end treatment does look better to our eyes (if overly familiar). But in the era of the bold new all-aluminum Ford F-150, the Navigator is still based on the outgoing model's all-steel bones, so it's more of an extensive mid-cycle refresh than a completely new piece.
That's a shame, really, because the class the Navigator is playing in features a host of really modern, stylish, luxurious crossovers and sport utilities like the Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class and more. Unlike the F-150, there's no aluminum suit on this black-tie bruiser, but that's not to say it isn't bringing some new tech to the table in 2015. Under the hood, for example, is Ford's well-received 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, putting out "at least" 370 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. That's a solid engine, and should be a whole lot more spunky and efficient than the archaic 5.4-liter Triton V8 currently being employed in the outgoing model.
Unlike the F-150, there's no aluminum suit on this black-tie bruiser
Driving-wise, Lincoln has fitted its Drive Control system to the Navigator, with continuously controlled dampers that monitor road conditions and adjust the ride accordingly. There are Comfort, Normal and Sport modes for the adaptive dampers.
Inside, the interior looks much the same, with the dash, doors and seats not really having been reshaped. But a number of updates are found within, including a new center stack with MyLincoln Touch, and a revised instrument panel that looks like what you'll find in the MKX. Three rows of seats are available, as are two wheelbases – there's the standard Navigator, and the longer L.
Have a gander at our fresh set of Navigator shots live from the Chicago Auto Show, above, and then check out a short b-roll video and the official press release below. Be sure to tell us what you think in Comments, as well.
LINCOLN MOTOR COMPANY INTRODUCES NEW LEVEL OF POWER AND BEAUTY ON LUXURIOUS NAVIGATOR
- A redesigned exterior, updated interior, more powerful engine, additional customer-focused technologies and new luxurious appointments elevate Lincoln Navigator in the full-size luxury SUV market
- A new 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost® engine delivers more power; available Lincoln Drive Control with Continuously Controlled Damping provides a smoother ride; electric power-assisted steering improves handling; and puddle lamps that create a "welcome mat" below both front doors offer a new level of elegance
- An available Reserve Package includes 22-inch wheels and ultra-luxurious leather with premium Ziricote wood trim
- The Lincoln Motor Company introduces the new 2015 Navigator, offering a fresh interpretation of a classic vehicle that has long defined the full-size luxury sport utility segment.
At the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 6, the public will get its first look at a new Navigator that takes on a changed presence for the 2015 model year. Exterior design changes are accentuated by the reintroduction of Lincoln's iconic split-wing grille. Interior enhancements include luxurious leather and additional customer-focused technologies. The more refined appearance complements enhanced power and hauling capabilities that Navigator customers demand.
The sleeker front end includes a newly designed hood, and the reimagined back end features a power up/down tailgate. On both ends, the vehicle wears jewel-like light-emitting diode (LED) lights, as well as high-intensity discharge (HID) adaptive headlamps with LED accents.
"We knew what our customers wanted," said Elaine Bannon, chief engineer of the 2015 Navigator. "Navigator has always had great features, and we were able to keep those things. I'm proud that we were able to give our customers so much more."
Navigator comes standard with 20-inch, machined aluminum wheels, while Reserve Package vehicles are equipped with 22-inch, polished aluminum wheels. Reserve Package Navigators also offer optional chrome-accented running boards.
As with current-generation models, the 2015 Navigator will be available in standard-length (207.4 inches) and extended-length (222.3 inches) versions.
Luxuriously appointed interior
Navigator has long been synonymous with large-scale luxury. On the 2015 Navigator, the Reserve Package introduces a new level of luxury to the vehicle's interior, providing customers with:
- An updated cabin that extends ultra-luxurious leather to all three rows of seats, as well as to the armrests, center console and transmission shifter
- A hand-wrapped, leather instrument panel with contrast stitching and leather glove box door
- Premium Ziricote wood trim, a luxurious natural-grain wood new to the automotive industry, most commonly used as an accent in yachts
- The Wollsdorf leather-wrapped, wood-trimmed steering wheel features a thicker grip and softer touch for a more dynamic driving experience.
Designed to seat up to eight people, Navigator offers buyers second-row options that include two captain's chairs, with or without a center console, or a fold-flat bench. Due in part to Navigator's patented independent rear suspension, which allows for true fold-flat, PowerFold® third-row seats, extended-length and standard wheelbase models are projected to deliver segment-leading cargo volume.
"We have this iconic vehicle with untapped potential," Bannon said. "Now it's got more of what our customers want. It's got the new Lincoln design DNA on the exterior, a redesigned instrument panel, a leather Reserve Package, 22-inch wheels. Once we were able to include all of those elements, I knew we had a winner."
A smoother, more powerful ride
Replacing the 5.4-liter V8 that has powered Navigator for years is a more powerful and fuel-efficient 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine.
The twin turbocharged, direct injection engine is projected to deliver at least 370 horsepower and 430 lb.-ft. of torque, according to preliminary test data. Final numbers will be available closer to production. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost is also projected to deliver best-in-class towing.
Helping make this the best-handling Navigator ever is the addition of standard electric power-assisted steering. This allows for more consistent and precise control of the vehicle through a range of speeds while simultaneously making it easier to maneuver at low speeds, and in particular making it easier to park.
The Lincoln Drive Control option adds Lincoln's Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD), a suspension system that monitors multiple vehicle sensors and road conditions every two milliseconds and adjusts the suspension needs accordingly. CCD also provides a smoother and improved ride – best-ever for Navigator – and allows the driver to customize the ride of the vehicle by selecting one of three different control modes: Normal, Sport and Comfort.
Navigator also offers driver-friendly Hill Start/Descent Assist. When parked on a hill with a grade of five degrees or more, the vehicle remains stationary for up to two seconds after the driver releases the brake pedal.
Standard-equipped Navigators will continue to offer Nivomat®, a load-leveling system that automatically raises a loaded rear end to optimum ride height for improved handling. The mechanical leveling system helps reduce uneven wear on front and rear tires and helps maintain better vehicle aerodynamics.
Illuminated "welcome mats" beneath both front doors greet Navigator owners when they press the "unlock" button on the key fob.
A passive entry system allows owners to enter without using a key. The system senses when the key fob is in range of the door and allows for keyless access via a door-mounted button. Inside, a push-button start allows for keyless engine ignition.
The latest SYNC® with MyLincoln Touch™ driver connectivity system is standard. The system allows drivers to use voice-activated or touch screen controls to make phone calls, play music, use the navigation system or set cabin temperature controls. The system includes 4.2-inch LCD displays in the instrument cluster, an 8-inch touch screen in the center stack and traditional knob controls for easy operation.
Rebirth of an icon
Navigator was wildly popular the moment it hit the streets in the late 1990s, and spent more than a decade as one of the top-selling vehicles in the segment. Featuring seating for up to eight passengers, luxury cues typically reserved for sedans and cargo space and towing capacity to haul virtually anything, Navigator set the full-size luxury SUV standard.
It was an immediate success, accounting for 41 percent of in-segment sales by the 2000 model year. Aiming to recapture that glory, the 2015 Navigator offers nearly two dozen upgrades from the current generation.
"Navigator has retained some of the most loyal following in the segment for more than a decade," said Jim Farley, executive vice president, Ford global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln. "Among Lincoln owners, more than 70 percent have been return customers – purchasing the vehicle for its power, for its beauty and for its capability, and this new Navigator gives them more on all three fronts."
Production of the 2015 Navigator is scheduled to begin late this summer at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Ky., and vehicles are due in Lincoln showrooms in early fall.
By Steven J. Ewing
See also: 2015 Lincoln Navigator puts on a brave face, offers EcoBoost V6 only, Lincoln MKC configurator comes alive, Never mind the naysayers; Lincoln is worth saving.