No downsize in luxury for Lincoln Navigator

Despite smaller engine, luxury SUV is still large

Not everything with the 2015 Lincoln Navigator is big and gluttonous. My tester this week sports a smaller V6 engine, replacing a bulking, fuel-gulping V8.

Other than that, the Lincoln Navigator remains gloriously gigantic. Few vehicles signify luxury more than the Navigator (or its Cadillac competitor, the Escalade).

In fact, with the Navigator parked in my driveway for a week, I took jokes about being a drug dealer, or a gangster or a lottery winner. To be honest, with a different vehicle at my house every week, these jabs are frequent and common.

But, the Navigator is a large luxury liner that signifies a certain lifestyle. It also signifies that you have enough room to park it, which rules out most urban dwellings.

This model year, the Navigator undergoes a small makeover with a new front end, including a downsized grille as well as a modified back end. The profile remains mostly reminiscent of the previous model year, and that profile is imposing. The Navigator has a long wheelbase, and with the redesigned back end, it looks even longer toward the back.

The nicest change is the less aggressive grille, which now showcases Lincoln’s “split wing” design, which they’re incorporating on all their vehicles. The grille isn’t garish, but exudes class and luxury.

As is the case with all Ford vehicles, Ecoboost technology comes to the Navigator. This gasoline direct-injection turbo offers up ample power, while increasing fuel economy.

The 3.5-liter V6 engine makes 380 horsepower and 460 lbs.-ft. of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, although my tester had four-wheel drive capability. The Navigator has a six-speed automatic transmission that is adequate, but made wonder if a seven- or eight-speed would make it even more efficient.

The Navigator is still capable of towing, making it an excellent weekend warrior for those with recreational vehicles. The 2015 Lincoln Navigator can tow up to 9,000 pounds.

Minor modifications to the interior are subtle. The Navigator was already lavish inside, but the 2015 version is even more luxurious. Motorized running boards extend out, making access into this behemoth easy. Shut the doors and enjoy an illuminated floorboard, which looks especially nice in the evening hours.

Touch points are extraordinary inside the Navigator. A leather and wood steering wheel feels impressive when motoring the Navigator. Front seats are both heated and cooled. Second row captain’s seats are also heated (some trims have an optional bench seat). All around legroom and headroom is phenomenal. This is what the Navigator excels at best, and this model year does not disappoint.

Interior space is vast. In the longer L trim (which I drove), there is 128 cubic feet of cargo space. Access to that is simple with the power-folding third-row seats. With the push of a button the third row seats (big enough and comfortable enough for adults by the way) fold flat into the floor.

There’s nice technology inside the Navigator too. The infotainment system uses MyLincoln Touch, which is simple to navigate and incorporates many features of your smartphone. Additionally there are front and rear sensors, which really come in handy when trying to park the large SUV.

I actually squeezed into a tight parking spot in the Navigator while aided by the rear sensors, which told me when I was dangerously close to rubbing paint.

Fuel economy is much improved, thanks to that Ecoboost engine. The Navigator has an EPA rating of 16 city/22 hwy for the rear-wheel drive version and 15/20 for the all-wheel drive version that I drove. While this is still in the gas guzzler range, it’s a 3 mpg improvement over the last model year. In a week’s worth of driving I averaged 17 mpg, which is not bad considering the sheer size of this vehicle.

There are only two trim options for the Navigator, which makes car buying easy; the standard Navigator and the extended-wheelbase L (which was what I drove). Standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels, tow package, parking sensors, a power lift gate and power-folding running boards. My tester came with the reserve equipment package, which includes 22-inch tires, special paint coat and upgraded leather interior.

Standard price for the Navigator L is $64,467 with extra options, my tester had a final MSRP of $67,860.

The 2015 Lincoln Navigator does not shy away from its big, bold luxury. Rather it embraces it with an improved interior, a redesigned exterior and a more fuel-efficient and smaller engine.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @driversside

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