2015 navigator in magnetic
Patrick Rall's picture

2015 Lincoln Navigator Review: a Stunning Luxury People Mover with Pickup Power

The 2015 Lincoln Navigator is a rarity in the modern American auto industry as one of the few big SUVs still using the truck-like body-on-frame architecture, but that relatively old school design leads to a full sized SUV that has as much interior space and as many luxury amenities as any SUV in America – while still offering truck-like capabilities that make this high class rig a serious work horse.

Back in the day, a large luxury sport utility vehicle like the 2015 Lincoln Navigator was the industry norm, but the push for lighter, more efficient large vehicles has led to the demise of almost all of the body-on-frame SUVs. As a result, there are very few big SUVs available that still rely on this hard-working chassis design so there are few options that can work as hard as the Navigator. There are even fewer that can perform as well as the Navigator in any situation while wrapping you in the warm embrace of modern luxury.

Now, the term “people mover” can be a slight in the right context, but when you are considering a vehicle like the 2015 Lincoln Navigator, seating space is undoubtedly a concern of yours. Sure, there are a handful of people out there who will buy a new Navigator simply because he or she wants to have a big, high riding premium SUV that will do the work of a truck, but most prospective buyers of a vehicle like the Navigator are concerned about the ability to haul a big group of people. Whether it is a family with four or five kids or “the boss” looking to get a group of workers to and from the job site in style, the sheer size of the 2015 Navigator is the key attraction of this vehicle and all of its competitors. However, unlike the old school truck-based SUVs of the 1980s, the new full sized SUVs are expected to still be strong, relatively quick and efficient – all of which are attributes of the 2015 Lincoln thanks to the 3.5L EcoBoost V6. Best of all, the massive interior allows you to carry a tremendous amount of cargo while the powerful drivetrain affords this particular luxury SUV the ability to tow 8,700lbs.

15 navigator front

The only downside to the 2015 Lincoln Navigator is the price, as a luxury SUV of this size doesn’t come cheap. The 2015 Navigator 4x4 carries a base price of $65,055 while Rapid Spec Option Package 101A adds $6,805, the 4.10 rear axle adds $45 and the destination fee adds $955 for a price as tested of $72,945. That is a serious chunk of change, but for a vehicle that will very realistically seat 7 people comfortably in a plush, luxurious cabin while still having the ability to load up plenty of cargo and an 8,700lb trailer makes this what could be considered a gigantic premium luxury car with the capabilities of a truck.

The Exterior
A great many roomy SUVs have moved towards a smaller exterior shape to improve fuel economy, but the 2015 Lincoln Navigator is a big, boxy SUV just like it was when introduced for 1998. The key new features for the 2015 Navigator that help to separate it from the similarly engineered Ford Expedition is a new front and rear end, featuring the familiar Lincoln wing design grille that extends out to the LED-lined projection headlights up front and the big, bright taillight setup that spans the entire width of the rear end. The result of these changes are a very high tech, premium appearance that serves as a preface to the luxurious cabin.

15 navigator side

The Navigator is a high riding vehicle built on a truck chassis, allowing plenty of room for the gorgeous 22 inch wheels to tuck neatly under the body. This high stance can make it tough for shorter people to get in, but Lincoln has covered that with an automatic running board design that serves as the lower rocker face when the doors are closed, but when any of the doors open, the electronic running boards swing down for easy access.

Finally, there is a spread of chrome from on the grille, in the lower front fascia, along the bottom of the side windows, on the door handles and through the middle of the taillight, all of which works with the bright silver wheels and the chrome badges to give this large SUV a proper luxury look – the kind of look that you would expect from one of the industry’s premium luxury SUVs.

The Interior
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator has a styling exterior and the ability to work like a truck, but for most people buying a vehicle like this, the interior is the star of the show. In the case of this new Navigator, Ford Motor Company made sure that the interior didn’t leave owners wanting anything – and the automaker delivered. Keep in mind, this is a vehicle that is very popular with limo companies and you don’t need to spend more than a few minutes inside of one to understand why.

15 navigator front seats

First and foremost, the 2015 Lincoln Navigator offers comfort for 7 people like few other vehicles available in the US. The big cabin of the Navigator allows for a tremendous amount of space for the front seats and second row, with enough leg room for even very tall passengers to stretch their legs. The boxy design also yields tons of head room, so the front and second row can very comfortably seat four very tall adults – and maybe five if the folks in the back don’t mind sharing some shoulder room. The third row is one of the bigger I’ve experienced, but due to the design, it still has some limits on leg room and head room so because of that, the third row seats are best for children or shorter adults. However, this third row seating setup is more spacious than others that I have tested, particularly in leg and knee room.

15 navigator rear seats

When you don’t need the third row of seats, both rearmost seating positions fold flat at the push of a button, expanding the rear cargo space significantly. With the third row down, the Navigator cargo area will easily hold 5 hockey bags or five golf bags, allowing you to drive yourself and four of your buddies to the golf course – or to take your kid and three teammates to the rink with their equipment.

Aside from spaciousness, the other aspect of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator that makes it so very impressive is the long list of luxury amenities. In addition to being wrapped in soft light tan leather which contrasts against the spread of dark leather, the front power-controlled seats are heated and cooled. The second row seats do not have heated or cooled surfaces, but they are just as plush and comfortable as the front seats and that is true of the third row seats as well. These seats look nice, but they feel even better – making the new Navigator one of the most comfortable vehicles I’ve enjoyed driving in the past few years.

15 navigator cargo

Like every other Ford Motor Company product, the 2015 Lincoln Navigator has the premium infotainment system using Sync to bring the controls for pretty much everything inside of the vehicle into the big, bright touch screen mounted high on the dash. There is also a expansive panel of traditional buttons and knobs just below the touch screen for those who don’t like touch controls, but when combined with the buttons on the steering wheel, there is nothing that the driver cannot control from the touch screen, the steering wheel or with their voice. Ford’s infotainment system gets a bad rap from the technologically challenged, but I love the Sync system with MyLincoln, allowing me to flip through the climate control, the navigation, the sound system and the hands-free phone system with ease.

15 navigator dash

Working with the infotainment screen on the dash is Ford’s unique gauge cluster, that has two customizable screens on each side of the analog speedometer, allowing the driver to pick what he or she wants displayed in the gauge cluster – whether it is the name of the song playing on the radio, turn by turn directions, fuel economy figures any much, much more.

The interior of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator does what few large SUVs sold in the country can do – comfortably seating up to 7 adults (provided that a few are on the shorter side) in an environment that wraps everyone in the warm grasp of modern luxury. The Navigator requires no compromise in amenities or spaciousness, bringing the qualities that make it a great limo vehicle into the ultimate family vehicle segment.

The Drive
The 2015 Lincoln Navigator is a big, heavy SUV, with my four wheel drive test rig tipping the scales north of 6,000 pounds, but with the help of the new, uniquely-tuned EcoBoost V6. Like the other premium EcoBoost engines, this mill measures 3.5 liters, but unlike the engine in use in the Ford F150, the Navigator EcoBoost provides 380 horsepower and 460lb-ft of torque. This massive torque output makes the Navigator surprisingly quick from a stop while the 380 horsepower afford this big SUV impressive high speed capabilities on the highway. Granted, this isn’t a vehicle that many people are going to take racing, but as massive SUVs go, the EcoBoost V6 makes the 2015 Navigator impressively quick.

15 navigator low front moving

More importantly, the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 helps to make the Navigator surprisingly efficient for a 6,000lb+ sport ute, with EPA ratings of 15 around town, 20 on the highway and 17mpg combined. During my time testing the Navigator, I saw significantly worse overall fuel economy figures, but that was due to my towing and hauling tests. Overall, I averaged just 12.8mpg, but that includes some 60 miles of pulling a 5,000lb horse trailer and about 20 miles hauling a load of horse feed. However, I was able to record highway figures of 20.8mpg on an hour long highway trip so when coupled with my experience with the EcoBoost technology in the past – I would expect that Navigator owners with no trailer and a lighter foot won’t have any problems hitting those EPA figures.

I put the 2015 Lincoln Navigator through comparable towing and hauling tests to what I do with trucks and every other SUV with a trailer hitch assembly. This includes a trip to the feed store, where 850lbs of bagged horse grain was loaded into the cargo area and a 60 mile trip with my 5,000lbs (roughly) 2-horse trailer. With the third row of seats folded down, the 850lbs of horse grain fit very easily. During the drive back to the stables, the extra 850lbs in the back didn’t make any noticeable difference in normal acceleration or handling. Really, if I didn’t know that it was back there, I wouldn’t have noticed any difference from when I was driving the Navigator completely empty.

15 navigator low rear

Once the grain was unloaded and the horse trailer was hooked up to the 2015 Navigator, I took a 60 mile round trip drive to see how the big SUV handles the added weight under the bumper. Thanks once again to the power of the EcoBoost V6, the big Lincoln effortlessly accelerated up to speed around town and even with a combined weight topping 11,000lbs with the trailer – the Navigator had no issues keeping up with highway traffic on even very large inclines. The trailer braking system made stopping simple and with the whisper-quiet cabin, very little noise from the horse trailer on the road made it inside. This is a vehicle that I would use to tow every day, all day, without thinking twice – as it performed beautifully when hooked to my 2-horse trailer.

muddy 15 navigator

Finally, in addition to being quick, quiet and strong, the 2015 Lincoln Navigator has a pleasantly smooth ride whether you are driving around town or out on the open road. This is a truck-based SUV, so it is high riding and slightly stiffer than you will get from some of the softer SUVs on the market, but you don’t get the harshness that you do from many large, luxury-themed trucks. It rides like a big SUV, but it is comfortable enough to easily serve as a daily driver in any conditions – even rough unpaved roads. As you can see from the muddy image above, the Navigator took to some of the brutally muddy local roads and handled them with flying colors. When it comes to ride quality, this is another aspect of the Navigator that makes it very clear why it is a popular limousine, even on the worst roads in the worst conditions.

The Final Word
If you need a big, powerful SUV to get your family or coworkers around in the lap of luxury while also having the ability to tow and haul like a half ton pickup, the Lincoln Navigator is really one of the few choices on today’s market. The Navigator interior is massive, plush and packed full of technology and the high tech EcoBoost V6 affords this big SUV solid performance whether you are towing a trailer or simply hurrying to a hockey game.

15 navigator low rear

In terms of a true luxury SUV that can do some work and comfortably hold 7 adults, the Lincoln Navigator might just be the best option on the market.

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Comments

One heck of a rig! However $73,000 with a predicted depreciation of 55% over the first 3 years places this monster out of reach for most Cowboys. Thanks for sharing.
do the seats come out to haul tables and bins for an estate sale company?
Great ride, good gas mileage, takes regular gas, not premium like the Escalade or Denali. In addition you can put in 2 wheel drive versus all wheel drive all the time. Drove everything, fit and finish, probably better on the Caddy, but for 20K less and less operating cost, this is the best. Crossovers, some of the like X70 Infinity, Lexus, Acura are so cramped, no room, no third row and gas mileage that is not much better. Most of them also require premium fuel. These Ford F150 based SUV's hold their value very well, this is my third, One Suburban, two Navigators. Go with the L, never can have enough room and it cracks over 20 on the highway doing 70 miles per hour and seats 6 in luxury.