2015 Lincoln Navigator 4X4

2015 Lincoln Navigator 4WD Review

Kickin' it old school.

By: David Merline

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: March 31st, 2015

The 2015 Lincoln Navigator is a relic of a bygone era. A time of great prosperity, when giants roamed the land. A time when a road-going HUMVEE sounded like an excellent idea. Wages were high, unemployment was low. The Clinton era had not yet ended, and the tumultuous days of the Bush era had yet to kick off with a bang above lower Manhattan. If you had it, you flaunted it. And bigger was most definitely better.

Back in the halcyon days of the late 1990s, the Lincoln Navigator was the shit. From rap star to master of the universe, everyone who was anyone wanted to roll up in the four-wheeled battleship that is the Lincoln Navigator. It had the size everyone wanted, the luxury everyone dreamed of, the ability to seat eight that nobody needed, and the four-wheel drive capability that no one had use for. It was the perfect vehicle for the times.

But that was a decade and a half ago. A lot has changed since then, but the Navigator has stayed more or less the same.

  • Exterior

    From the outside, the Navigator has the same boxy half-minivan/half-oversized station wagon look that defined the look of full size SUVs for years. The only thing that's changed dramatically is the grille, which has expanded to front-end filling proportions, in line with the fashion in the industry.

    Unfortunately, the new "winged" grille is probably the ugliest in Lincoln's history. The brand has been struggling mightily to remain relevant as it tries to decide whether it is a maker of family cars or a luxury carmaker, and its current design language is as ill-defined as its market strategy.

    Still, its very size, its massive heft (even more noticeable now that most SUVs have slimmed down to fit into their new Size Crossover outfits) is kind of awesome to behold. In its time, the Navigator was a statement of intent; a way of screaming, "I'm here and I'm not nobody!" And, if anything, this effect is magnified when the Navigator is parked next to, say, a comparatively small Audi Q5.

    If your aim is to stand out in a crowd, the Navigator is still the vehicle to do it in.

  • Interior

    As with the exterior, there's only so much Lincoln can do to bring the Navigator into the 21st Century. The most obvious change is to the center console, where a nav screen now dominates, as it will soon do in every car on the road.

    The Navigator is meant to haul a bunch of people, and it's certainly roomy enough to do that with no trouble, as well as comfortable enough to do it with little complaint. There are power points and USB ports aplenty, and cup holders guaranteed not to squeeze out your Double Big Gulp.

    Our tester came with the "premium" THX sound system, which is workmanlike, but certainly not executive-grade. It's clear that the Navigator is still unsure who its primary audience is, but whoever they are, they better like boomin' bass.

    Heated seats, push-button start, and assorted safety features, like blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert, are in full effect, but the material quality doesn't seem befitting a car that prices out as $65,000. This price may have made sense when the Navigator was "da bomb, yo," but it seems entirely out of line with the amenities offered by this particular "luxury" brand.

    That said, there's nothing particularly wrong with the inside of the Navigator. It looks nice, the controls are well-placed and easily memorized, and there's definitely room to stretch out and relax, whether you're behind the wheel or in the third row.

  • On the Road

    Surprisingly enough, the best thing about the 2015 Navigator is the way it drives. Lincoln has done a fine job bringing a refined, luxury-car-like feel to the Navigator. It doesn't exactly drive like a car - how could it? - but it does glide along nicely as if it were riding on rails made of very firm Jello.

    The Navigator's twin-turbo V-6 is impressive, especially in the way it propels this fancified panel van forth as if it was an executive sedan. The extremely high seating height (another old school holdover) helps maximize the sense of speed, but when driven without passengers or cargo, the Navigator hauls serious ass, although it's not entirely clear why.

    One can only assume this power is meant to keep things going forward under full capacity, but Lincoln has to know that almost never happens, so consider the Navigator's prodigious hustle to be an extra perk, albeit one that sure seems like it could be dangerous in the hands of an inexperienced driver.

    The ironically-named (in this application) EcoBoost engine does its best to keep gas mileage on the not-ridiculously bad side, but even with variable valve timing the Navigator will get you between 15 and 20 mpg at best.

    Parking sensors and a back-up camera make the Navigator possible to park on even the most firmly-packed streets; in fact, it's kind of amazing to think people used to drive one of these urban assault vehicles without these amenities.

  • Conclusion

    If you're looking for size, comfort, and size, the Navigator is the perfect car for you, especially if you don't mind refilling often and looking a half decade behind the times. It's not the most efficient, the most luxurious, or the most cutting edge vehicle on the road, but it is big.

  • Specs & Prices

    Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, part-time four-wheel drive

    Power Output: 380 hp / 460 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 15 city / 20 highway

    Base Price: $65,055

    As Tested: $73,895 (incl. $995 destination)

    Available Features:

    Equipment Group Reserve 101A: Premium leather seats, leather interior appointments, selectable model control, power running boards, 22-inch polished aluminum wheels

    Individual Options: Power running boards, power moonroof, 4.10 axle, rear-seat entertainment, second-row captain's chairs

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