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    Categories: Auto-Talk

New Navigator looks long and lean

Lincoln has refreshed the 2015 Navigator full-size SUV. This body on frame vehicle is not a big seller for Lincoln but offers performance

Lincoln has refreshed the 2015 Navigator full-size SUV. This body on frame vehicle is not a big seller for Lincoln but offers performance, luxury, interior space and towing capacity that is as good if not better than some of its competitors. Certainly worth researching if this is what you or your family needs in a big vehicle.

The trim, athletic looking body gives the Navigator a modern, lean look and to me makes it seem smaller on the outside than some of the models offered by other manufacturers. New this year are 22-inch alloy wheels which add to the freshened exterior.

Inside, there is plenty of stretch-out room for your legs and the rest of your body for that matter. The Navigator’s prime rival, the Cadillac Escalade, has 122.4 cubic feet of interior volume in its ESV model. The Navigator offers up 159.5 cubic feet. It’s the same for cargo capacity with the Escalade ESV offering a max of 120.9 cubic feet to the Lincoln’s 128.2. It helps that the load floor in the back folds flat and that access to the standard power-folding third row is easy. Independent suspension means nothing intrudes on the third seat or takes away from the cargo area. This rig is so nicely finished on the inside I’d be reluctant to put anything very dirty in the back. Be it a dog, smelly hockey bag or firewood. It’s just too nice, even dirty snow covered boots should be removed before climbing aboard. Lincoln designers have done a good job of revising the interior. Looking at the instrument panel in front of me I didn’t see anything that looked cheap and plastic-like. The fit, finish, and overall look up front are that of quality and luxury.

For the driver, instruments are legible, controls properly laid out, sound system top quality. The interior cabin is home to fine leather, which covers most of the instrument panel as well as the steering wheel and seats. Warm Ziricote wood is a nice trim accent on the Reserve model that I drove. The seats are wide and comfortable, with a reasonable level of support for a full-sizer.

On the outside, I have trouble with the way designers have applied the angular split-wing grille on what is essentially a box-like vehicle. The grille design is supposed to be a way of tying all Lincoln models together in the family. But to me, it just doesn’t come off very well.

Under the hood the 2015 Navigator has the most powerful version of Ford’s corporate 3.5-litre, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 with 380 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. The six is mated to a six-speed automatic and the combo work well together. There is no turbo lag and plenty of low-end pull. My test Navigator had optional four-wheel drive and was also equipped with continuously controlled dampers tied to a fully independent suspension. As a result, the Navigator’s ride is smooth and set up to easily hide any road imperfections.

Can this V6 pull a trailer? Actually Lincoln says the max tow capacity is a class-leading 9,000 lbs. with the standard length, rear-wheel drive model and 8,600 with four-wheel drive. This is why many people still prefer body on frame SUVs. There is some wind noise, I suspect due in part to the large side mirror. As for fuel consumption the Navigator is rated at 16.4L/100 km in the city and 11.3L/100km on the highway. Those figures are very close to what I was able to achieve. Not bad considering this SUV weighs in at over 6,000 lbs.

The seven-passenger Navigator starts at $75,110 and is very well equipped at that starting point. In fact it comes up slightly less than some of its competitors. Loading on a few options such as the “Reserve Package” adds another $7,250. The headrest DVD Entertainment system is a $2,350 hit but a nice add-on for the kids if you do a lot of long distance travel. With all the options my Navigator tester came in at $85,010 before shipping and GST.

Garry Melnyk is a St. Albert resident and lifelong car buff who has written about new cars and trucks for radio and print publications since the 1970s.

Garry Melnyk: