Ford gives the luxury full-size SUV a new lease on life with comprehensive refresh

Last night, Lincoln quietly took the wraps off the 2015 Navigator before its public debut at the Chicago Auto Show next month.

Lincoln has given the aging product a new corporate face, additional luxury package options, and replaced the 5.4L OHV V8 with a more powerful (and hopefully more efficient) 3.5L EcoBoost V6. The new engine will be the only one on offer.

The full size SUV will be available in two lengths – standard and extended – the longer of the two adding 15-inches to the vehicles overall length.

Navigator is the last model in the lineup to receive a version of the Lincoln “split-wing” grille, featuring horizontal bars versus the “waterfall” effect used by other models (MKX). Front and rear lighting is performed thanks to new LED treatments while headlights get HID adaptive headlamps as standard.

For 2015, Lincoln will offer a “Reserve Package” on the Navigator, adding “a new level of luxury” to the full-sizer. This includes ultra-luxurious leather to all three rows of seating, a hand-wrapped leather instrument panel, 22-inch wheels, and “Premium Ziricote” wood trim.

The new 3.5L EcoBoost V6 is expected to produce 370 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque in Lincoln’s luxo-liner, though official numbers will be available closer to launch. Ford also expects the new engine to deliver “best in class towing” capability.

Our Take

As the Lincoln brand struggles to stay relevant in the automotive market, some big changes are needed if the Blue Oval plans to stay in the luxury space. But, it seems, the new Navigator is far from the mark, still utilizing the same bones as the outgoing model and leveraging a design language that, to date, hasn’t resonated well with the buying public.

Jonathan Yarkony, Senior Editor: “They seem to be doing what they can with a dying breed, keeping development costs down while improving it as much as possible, but why it’s not based on the F-150′s new lightweight frame and chassis (or why they’re not making a big deal about it) is a bit of a mystery. I wonder if sales will go up during Movember?”

Mark Stevenson, News Editor: “This effort, and the lack of build-up surrounding it, makes me think Lincoln isn’t fully behind the Navigator. It’s a stop gap measure to keep them in the segment as their development dollars have gone to other products (MKC). Cadillac will continue to trounce them in the segment with the new Escalade, which still offers V8 power and iconic, powerful styling. Navigator, for all intents and purposes, looks to be the go-to fleet vehicle for those not sold on the MKT livery package.”

Full press release and gallery below.


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

Navigator comes standard with the new Lincoln steering wheel, introduced on the recently revealed MKC premium small utility. The Wollsdorf leather-wrapped, wood-trimmed 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.

Extended-length models provide 128.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row, 86.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, and 42.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row; standard wheelbase models deliver 103.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row, 54.4 cubic feet behind the second row, and 18.1 cubic feet behind the third row.

“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.

Navigator features a six-speed automatic transmission with Lincoln’s SelectShift, which allows the driver to manually control gears if desired. The vehicle is available in both four-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive configurations. The available Control Trac Four-Wheel-Drive system enhances traction on slippery surfaces, helps improve handling on dry roads and enables off-road capability.

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.

Technology-based luxury
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.

The available Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) signals when another vehicle is detected in an adjacent lane behind either rear wheel. Standard for 2015, Navigator also introduces a new rearview camera, which displays a color image on the 8-inch touch screen for help when driving in reverse.

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.




About Mark Stevenson

Mark Stevenson is a former IT professional turned freelance automotive writer and news editor for Autos.ca. He's a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and former member of the Texas Automotive Writers Association (TAWA). Mark spends an inordinate amount of time on motorcycles and resides in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with his two dogs - Nismo and Maloo. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.