By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT (NNPA)–For a while there, it seemed like the Lincoln Navigator was headed to the trash heap. That’s how long it took the brand to fashion a new generation of the first luxury full-size sport utility. But for 2015, Lincoln has managed to mesh new and traditional in a very appealing package.
Sheet metal design is important but luxury is conveyed in the interior of any vehicle and Lincoln followed that adage. The Navigator was the first three-rowed luxury sport utility on the market and Lincoln has swathed all three rows of its newest edition in leather.
The brand has gone so far as to hand wrap the instrument panel in leather with contrasting stitching. Our vehicle had a “dune” leather dashboard that matched its heated and cooled front bucket seats. There was new to the auto industry Ziricote wood trim. Lincoln said it is a natural grain wood that is used as accents on yachts.
Buttons were nicely mixed with the touch screen on the 2015 Lincoln Navigator. The center stack was set back in the dash and it wasn’t overwhelming. The touch screen was intuitive, each group of digital controls was plainly marked and there was no need for a mouse. It was simple, cleanly styled and it was easy to use.
Lincoln has mastered the operation of its SYNC with MyLincoln Touch system that allowed the driver to use voice-activated or touch screen controls to make phone calls, play music, manage the navigation system or set cabin temperature. We did use the voice controls on our test vehicle successfully to make a phone call; that was an accomplishment. Simply because a vehicle has voice controls doesn’t mean you can control anything orally because a lot of the systems don’t understand the command you are giving.
Again mixing new and traditional, the instrument display featured an analogue speedometer in the center and configurable TFT screens on either side. It was clean, looked upscale and lacked the pedestrian style of some full TFT instrument panels.
The second row seat was heated, it was a 40-20-40 beach seat and the second row also had its own set of climate controls as well as limited media controls. The seatbacks flipped forward and the seat cushion sprang forward creating even more cargo space.
The third row seat backs power folded forward creating a flat cargo space with the folded seat backs of the second row. The power liftgate completed an interior that was luxurious, cleanly styled and functional. Our Navigator was configured to carry seven or eight people, depending on the size of the third-row passengers.
We had the 119-inch wheelbase version of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator; there is an extended (131-inch) wheelbase version. Either or, the split wing grille on the Navigator was certainly split but it didn’t have the upward sweep of wings. Still, it was a new grille along with the hood and a more rounded front end.
LED running lights accentuated the headlights and LEDs were used for taillights in the rear. A chrome-tipped exhaust stood out and puddle lamps that shone the Lincoln badge on the pavement beneath the front door were a nice touch.
Our test vehicle featured 22-inch polished aluminum wheels and black power running boards that deployed when any Navigator door opened and then retracted when it closed.
As new as the 2015 Lincoln Navigator was in terms of exterior and interior styling, the real news was under the hood. The lone engine for the Navigator is a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that made a thumping 380 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque at 2,750 rpm.
But the thumping was rhetorical. This dual turbocharged engine was quiet, it moved the Navigator with authority, acceleration was instant, response to driver input was sports car quick and the suspension system removed the small bus feel of most full-size utility vehicles. It was a nice ride.
Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, we had the four-wheel-drive Navigator. It got 15 mpg in the city, 20 mpg on the highway and 17 mpg combined. Our 4X4 Navigator weighed 6,069 pounds and it could tow 8,600 pounds.
Our test vehicle had a base price of $65,055. Add options and a $995 freight charge and the total came to $72,900. That is a premium price but the 2015 Lincoln Navigator is a luxury full-size body on frame sport utility. What is that old saying? You get what you pay for.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.