Don’t call the Lincoln Navigator “old.” Call it “stalwart.” Call it “enduring.”
By Will Sabel Courtney
Because this class of car—which is stretching the “c” word to its limit, but I digress—is, at the end of the day, not about hyperspeed performance or the novelty of new gizmos and gadgets. Sure, luxury buyers like power, and they like technology. But at the end of the day, people but gargantuan SUVs because they want to feel indestructible.
And that’s how you feel when you’re driving the Lincoln Navigator.
A big chunk of that can be chalked up to the redwood-sturdy (and redwood-old) body-on-frame chassis, as well as a seating position high enough to give you agita when passing through tunnels. But that feeling of invulnerability also stems from the new-for-2015 powerplant sitting beneath that Iowa-sized hood—Ford’s 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6. Packing 380 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, it the twin turbo six makes the Navigator something you never thought it could be: quick. Even with the big Lincoln loaded down with four adults and a fair amount of luggage, the EcoBoost punts the Navigator along at extralegal highway speeds with nary a concern or a downshift. It’s easy to see why this engine’s all but replaced the V8 in Ford’s F-150 lineup; short of strapping the Shelby GT500’s supercharged eight-pot in there, no engine in Ford’s portfolio makes so much power so easily.
In addition to the new motor, the 2015 model year brought a few styling tweaks designed to bring the Navigator’s looks more in line with Lincoln’s new corporate face. It’s an improvement over the pre-facelift model’s “Hey guys, let’s throw the grille from the ’63 Continental on the SUV and see if it sticks” front end, but the 2015 model still fades into the crowd when next to competitors like the new Cadillac Escalade. Then again, Kim Kardashian covered in caviar and champagne wouldn't stick out as much as the 2015 Escalade. That’s all right, though—the luxury SUV market is large enough that there’s plenty of room for bold and subtle sport-utes. (Well, as subtle as a 17-foot long truck weighing more than three tons can be.)
The Navigator’s (comparatively) introverted looks hide a secret, though: this rig’s even bigger inside than you’d guess. Fill every row to maximum butt capacity, there’s still 18.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row—more than an Acura TLX. Plop the back row flat, and you’re left with seating for five—and as much cargo room as a Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class has on its roomiest day. And fold down the second and third rows of seats, you’re left with 103.3 cubic feet of cargo space—more than ten percent more than the Escalade. What’s more, the Navi feels bigger inside than Cadillac’s luxury liner from the driver’s seat.
Okay, the Navigator lacks some of the fancy tech features that have become de rigueur in the luxury car market: The transmission only has six gears, the car won’t warn you if you’re straying from your lane (let alone keep you in said lane), and if you expect the cruise control to haul the Navigator down when there’s slower traffic ahead, you’ll find yourself eating the back end of a semi very, very quickly.
But at the end of the day, a lot of those features are just frosting—very much appreciated, but no substitute for a good foundation. In spite of its years, the Navigator feels as beefy and big from behind the wheel as it always has. You can get laser-guided cruise control and lane-departure prevention and all-wheel steering and everything short of an autopilot button on luxury cars of all sizes these days. You only get that feeling of civilized invincibility from a three-ton SUV. That’s why the Navigator, old or not, still matters.
Oh, and the Navigator has 22-inch wheels. Which, not gonna lie, look really good on it.
2015 Lincoln Navigator
Price as Tested: $68,895
Power: 380hp, 460 lb.-ft.
MPG: 15 city, 20 hwy sigh