Old Body, New Heart
If you need something not less than a full-size, old-fashioned SUV, with the new Lincoln Navigator, you may have mixed feelings:
The body-on-frame structure is heavy and thirsty. And a significant weight reduction in the form of an aluminium body like the F-150 is still a distant dream. But at least you have a modern power-plant under the hood.
Lincoln has replaced the aged 5.4-litre Triton V8 engine with a twin-turbo 3.5L EcoBoost V6 mated to a six-speed automatic from the shelves of Ford, the parent company. It makes a lot sense to transplant this powerful engine, that I am familiar with from other Ford models such as the Flex.
In addition to the engine transplant, the Navigator sees its first real cosmetic change since 2007, including a new hood and new corporate-look split-wing grille, while the back end gets a power liftgate.
There are still people who need this kind of vehicles such as the Navigator, the Chevrolet Tahoe or the Dodge Durango. Lincoln had to react against the competition especially General Motors which has refreshed all of its “big boys”, Suburban, Yukon, Tahoe, and Escalade for the 2015 model year. Ford apparently did not want to go so far since Lincoln sales and sales prospects are not so promising for a full replacement. The Navigator is far from being among the most popular cars in its segment.
The new engine makes a big difference: The Triton was good for 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet; the EcoBoost V6 delivers 380 hp and 460 lb.-ft. of torque despite two missing cylinders. My test vehicle was equipped with the 4.10 rear axle, a standard feature with the longer wheelbase Navigator L. This feature helps multiply the torque for maximum acceleration, making towing easier (9,000-pound maximum when properly equipped).I cannot comment on that since I did not perform a towing test.
After a week and 300 kilometers of driving I can tell you something about this engine. It makes the Navigator more dynamic, fun to drive and an upgrade at very low cost.
Now the other side of the coin, fuel economy: My average consumption, mainly on highways and country roads, with soem taste of off-road was north of 18 liters. This is probably still acceptable for a 2,753 kg vehicle with a not-so aerodynamic design. However, in Europe, if you happen to drive such a large vehicle (which is really a remote possibility), a Diesel engine would be the only alternative and you would crazy to look for a gasoline engine in a Navigator brochure.
Ford says the 2015 model is the best-handling Navigator ever, in part to the addition of electric power-assisted steering. Since I was only driven in earlier models I can hardly judge this statement. however, it is true that you have the feeling of moving a smaller vehicle than it actually is, when you steer or maneuver.
The ride comfort is also satisfying. My test vehicle was equipped with the Lincoln Drive Control option, which offers continuously controlled damping, a technology applied to the suspension that monitors multiple vehicle sensors and road conditions every two milliseconds and adjusts suspension needs accordingly. It has its limits though: As I was crossing railway tracks in Mainway, Burlington, this smoothness did not exist so much and body movements were somewhat bone-shaking.
The Navigator is available only with a four-wheel drive-train in Canada. It comes with Hill Descent Control, along with standard hill start assist. With hill start assist, if the Lincoln is parked on a slope with a grade of five degrees or more, it will remain stationary for up to two seconds after the brake pedal is released, stopping forward or backward roll. With Hill Descent Control, once the desired speed is set, the system applies brake pressure as needed to descend steep grades at a controlled speed.
Even if the body is not new, its has a lot of refreshing touches such as; 20-inch wheels, jewel-like daytime running lights, high-intensity-discharge adaptive headlamps with LED accents and power running boards.
Lincoln made a lot of efforts to offer a cabin with luxurious feeling, thanks to dark leather, polished wood and shiny trim bits, even if somewhat old looking (subjectively stated).
Something I want to note is the poorly functioning steering heating. Probably, because of partly wooden steering wheel, it took a couple of minutes to feel to heat in your fingers. A long-time when the external temperature is -10 degrees or lower.
Sync with MyLincoln Touch, the controversial driver connect system, allows drivers to use voice-activated or touchscreen controls to make phone calls, play music, manage the navigation system or set cabin temperature. The system includes a 4.2-inch LCD screen in the instrument cluster, an eight-inch touch screen in the centre stack and traditional knobs for easy operation. I ignored the voice command option and used the knobs, thereby saving myself a world of aggravation.
If you really need a full-size, SUV and have a high degree of brand loyalty, this vehicle will be in your short list. However, it is worth checking a few other alternatives in this downsizing market segment.
Type of vehicle Four-wheel-drive full-sized luxury SUV
Engine Twin-turbo 3.5L DOHC V6
Power 380 hp @ 5,250 rpm; 460 lb-ft of torque @ 2,750 rpm
Transmission Six-speed manumatic
Brakes Four-wheel disc with ABS
Price: base/as tested $75,110/$76,185
Destination charge $1,750
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km) 16.2 city, 11.8 highway
Standard features Dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and cooled front seats, power-fold 60/40 third-row fold flat seats, voice-activated navigation screen, memory settings for driver’s seat position, exterior mirrors, adjustable pedals and steering column, leather-wrapped and wood-trimmed steering wheel with power tilt column, cruise control and secondary audio controls, THX II premium audio system, Sync, power windows, door locks and sunroof, remote keyless entry, power liftgate, remote start, blind sport information system, scuff plates, rain- and speed-sensing windshield wipers, power-deployable running boards, forward and reverse sensing systems, rear-view camera, power folding exterior mirrors with puddle lamps, integrated blind spot mirrors and driver’s side auto-dimming feature
Options 4.10 rear axle ($75); rubber floor mats ($150); 20-inch polished aluminum wheels ($750)
Article: Varol McKars
Pictures: Varol McKars, Burak McKars
Test vehicle was provided by Lincoln Canada via BHG Media
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