At the Chicago Auto Show, Lincoln officially pulled the wraps off its updated 2015 Navigator full-size luxury SUV. And while I normally wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, this new ’Gator comes with a biggie.
The wheezy, gas-guzzlin’ V8 is history. The only motor on offer will be a V6.
That’s a bold move by Lincoln. Gone is the 5.4-liter V8 that cranked out 310-horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. In its place is Ford’s new twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost.
This is quite an engine. It generates an impressive 370-hp and a whopping 430 pound-feet of torque. Which should make light work of hauling up to 9,000 pounds yet returning upwards of 22 to the gallon on the highway.
Of course this refresh to the Navigator is more of an interim face-lift than a full-blow new model. That’s due in three years or so. So this 2015 version is still very much a Ford Expedition dressed up in a tux. Ignore the new front end, and it still looks a lot like the outgoing model.
Yet there are supposedly more than 20 major upgrades, the most visually significant being the redesigned front and rear styling. The Navigator now gets Lincoln’s new signature split-wing grille which is a huge improvement over that chrome-plated horror that adorns the current version.
Open the doors and you’ll see a major step up in terms of quality of materials and fit and finish. I love the new hand-wrapped leather instrument panel with contrast stitching and leather glove box door. That and the premium Ziricote wood trim, which is a lovely natural-grain veneer supposedly used in high-end yachts.
As before, the Navigator is still an awesome family hauler, with three rows of seats and room for up to eight.
Other new surprise and delight features include standard 20-inch wheels with the option of 22s, adjustable damping for a smoother ride, electric-assist steering, a power tailgate and, my favorite, the new Lincoln ‘welcome mat’.
At night when you approach the Navigator and press the key fob, a pool of light appears on the ground below the door mirrors showing the Lincoln logo. It’s not new - I think the new Range Rover was the first to feature it - but it’s still a nice touch.
Production starts this summer with the first new Navigators hitting the showroom in early fall. No word on pricing yet, but don’t expect much change from the current $56,150 base.