2015 Lincoln Navigator

The Navigator is a full-size SUV that sits at the very top of the Lincoln lineup. Well into its third generation, the Navigator shares the bulk of its mechanical components with the Ford Expedition but it stands out by offering more bling and a posh interior. In addition to the standard Navigator, Lincoln offers a long-wheelbase model called Navigator L that packs seven seats and a cavernous trunk.

Recent Changes
For the latest model year, Lincoln has tossed out the Navigator's 5.4-liter V8 mill and replaced it by a more fuel-efficient turbocharged V6. The Navigator also gets an updated front end that falls in line with Lincoln's latest design language.

Overview
The Navigator features an eye-catching front end with a bold rendition of Lincoln's trademarked split-wing grille, a thin air dam that stretches across the entire width of the lower bumper and a discreetly bulged hood. Out back, Lincoln's biggest and heaviest stands out from the Expedition on which it is based thanks to a sizable light bar that connects the tail lamps, emphasizing the SUV's width.

In spite of its super-sized dimensions, the Navigator is a breeze to park and nimble to drive thanks to a variable electric power steering system. Additionally, buyers can order Lincoln's comfort-enhancing Drive Control system at an extra cost. Drive Control uses a selection of sensors to scope out imperfections in the road and automatically adjust the suspension to provide a smoother ride.

Life Aboard
The Navigator's strong point is a luxurious interior with ample space for passengers in all three rows in part due to an independent rear suspension which frees up third row legroom and also pays dividends for handling. Cargo space is a healthy 18.6 cubic feet, increasing to 54.4 cubic feet with the third row seats folded.

All Navigators are equipped with SYNC, a Bluetooth-based connectivity system that allows smartphone users to place calls and stream music by using voice commands or steering wheel-mounted buttons. It can also read incoming texts aloud to help the driver keep his or her eyes on the road, and allows the use of Ford-approved apps like The Wall Street Journal news and Pandora radio.

Also included is MyLincoln Touch, an infotainment system that builds on SYNC by letting users control everything from navigation to climate control to the sound system with voice commands. MyLicoln Touch also replaces conventional sound system knobs and buttons with a center-mounted eight-inch touchscreen, a 4.2-inch display in the instrument cluster and touch-sensitive controls in the center stack. Many consumers report that the system is a "love it or hate it" item, so those interested in the Navigator are advised to try before they buy.

Under the Hood
The Navigator is powered by a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine that generates 380 horsepower at 5,250 rpms and 460 lb-ft. of torque at 2,750 rpms. Two turbochargers and direct fuel-injection provide plenty of low-end grunt and a smooth torque curve.

The six-cylinder is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that can be controlled via shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive is available at an extra cost.

Lincoln estimates the most efficient Navigator returns 16 mpg in the city, 22 on the highway and 18 in a combined cycle. In its most powerful configuration, the luxurious behemoth can tow up to 9,000 pounds and haul 1,560 pounds.

Standard and Optional Features
The Navigator comes standard with heated and cooled front seats, a power-folding third row seat, a voice-activated navigation system, dual-zone automatic A/C, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 20-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and go, a power liftgate, tinted windows, power-deployable running boards, rain-sensing wipers and parking sensors on both ends.

Buyers after a better-equipped Navigator can order the Reserve Package. It adds premium leather upholstery on the seats, the door panels and the dashboard, Ziricote wood trim, upgraded floor mats, a model-specific headliner, a two-tone exterior paint job, 22-inch polished aluminum wheels and Tuxedo Black power running boards.

The list of standalone options includes a power moonroof, chromed running boards and different alloy wheel designs.

Occupant Safety
All Navigators come standard with front, front side, and three-row side curtain airbags as well as Lincoln's patented inflatable seatbelt technology. Lincoln's biggest 'ute also packs a blind-spot monitoring system, a rear-view camera and trailer sway control.

Key Competitors
The Lincoln Navigator's closest rival is the Cadillac Escalade. Buyers can also look at the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, the Audi Q7 and the Lexus LX.