Open Gallery

Lincoln Navigator U326 (2007-present): Review, Problems, Specs

The longest-running model in Lincoln's current lineup is the big Navigator SUV, built since 1997 over three generations. The third-generation model was launched in 2006 and received a comprehensive makeover for the 2015 model year. However, for most of its career, the Navigator has stood in the shadow of its main competitor, the Cadillac Escalade, despite being the first to launch. If you want to buy a new Navigator, you might want to wait for the fourth-generation model, as the current one is dated compared with the Escalade, which got redesigned in 2014.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • Comfortable ride
  • Roomy third-row seats
  • More economical EcoBoost V6 (from 2015 model year)

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • Its huge size makes it difficult to maneuver around town
  • Thirsty, old-tech V8 gasoline engine (on 2008-2014 models)

Stay Away From
  • Early models
  • Navigator L version (unless you really need a longer Navigator)
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • Check if Lincoln replaced the Transmission Range Sensor on 2012 models as part of the May 2012 recall
  • Make sure that the head restraint for the second-row, right-hand seat was replaced as part of the February 2012 recall
  • Verify if Lincoln reconfigured the Tire Pressure Monitoring System on 2008 models as part of the April 2008 recall
  • Check if the interior handle springs on all side doors were replaced on 2008 models as part of the February 2008 recall

Car Details
Powertrain

From 2007 to 2014 model years, the Navigator was only available with the old-tech Triton 5.4-liter V8, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Despite its size, the engine only produces 310 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, making the Navigator the slowest-accelerating SUV in its class. Ideally, you should go for a 2015 model, as the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine puts out 380 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, allowing the Navigator to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds. That's quicker by more than 2 seconds than before.


Handling

Although Lincoln calls it "the best-handling Navigator ever," you must not be fooled: it drives just as you would expect a 6,148-lbs truck-based vehicle to drive. There's no way to disguise the Navigator's size or mass, despite the fact that the automaker added electric power-assisted steering and the optional Lincoln Drive Control with Continuously Controlled Damping for 2015. The latter does help provide a smoother ride, but it doesn't transform the Navigator into a sharp-handling SUV. Negotiating tight curves still requires quite a lot of concentration from the driver.


Safety

2015 Navigator was not crash-tested by IIHS but did get an overall five-star rating in government testing (NHTSA). The big SUV received five stars for frontal and side impacts, respectively, but only three stars for a rollover. NHTSA noted that 2015 Navigator models present a 21.2-percent risk of rollover (4x4 models are less prone to rollover, though). Standard safety features include ABS, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, side airbags at the front, three-row curtain airbags, and a post-crash alert system. Front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are also standard.

Comfort

The Lincoln Navigator delivers a smooth, comfortable ride that's worthy of a luxury SUV. Even equipped with the big 22-inch wheels, the Navigator doesn't allow road imperfections to bother the passengers. Thanks to its independent rear suspension (available with adaptive dampers) the ride is top-notch for a vehicle of this size. The cabin is quiet, and the seats are wide and comfortable. The gauges and controls are easy to read and use, while the separate knobs and buttons for functions like volume control, tuning, and climate control are a welcome addition.


Quality

The cabin looks and feels upscale, particularly on updated 2015 models. Lincoln has added finer leather, which now covers most of the dashboard, the seats, the steering wheel, and the gearshift lever. The door panels and center console also feature a wood trim, as does the steering wheel. Sadly, the cheap plastics on the doors and center stack are equally obvious. Although the cabin is quiet most of the time, Lincoln hasn't done a great job of isolating the interior from the noise produced by the engine.


Practicality

Along with comfort, practicality is one of the Navigator's highlights. Headroom and legroom are generous on all three rows of seats, including in the third row where three adults can sit comfortably. Passengers in the first- and second-row captain's chairs also benefit from comfortable accommodations. The standard-wheelbase Lincoln Navigator offers plenty of space but if you do need more there's always the option of the longer Navigator L. The latter offers 128.2 cu-ft of cargo space behind the first row, 86.3 cu-ft behind the second row, and 42.6 cu-ft behind the third row (103.3/54.4/18.1 cu-ft for the standard wheelbase model).


Infotainment

2015 Navigator comes with the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system that consists of a 4.2-inch display in the instrument cluster, an 8-inch touchscreen in the center stack and traditional knob controls for easy operation. The system includes navigation, audio, phone, and climate control. The menu is logical and rather easy to use, given that Lincoln also offers voice and physical "backup" commands. As with all modern infotainment systems, there's still a learning curve for getting used to its functions.

Efficiency

Fuel economy is hardly the main reason for which one would decide to buy a Navigator, particularly a V8-powered model. Fuel efficiency for the V8 is 16 mpg combined for the rear-wheel-drive Navigator. However, 2015 Navigator models equipped with the EcoBoost V6 improves that figure to 18 mpg (also the RWD model). All-wheel-drive versions return a combined 17 mpg (V6) and 15 mpg (V8). All these figures are for the standard-wheelbase version – the longer one obviously burns more fuel.


Equipment

2015 Navigator offers a long list of standard equipment, including 20-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, a heavy-duty tow package, automatic wipers, a power liftgate, and power folding running boards. Other standard features include leather upholstery, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear auxiliary controls, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats, driver seat memory settings, heated second-row captain's chairs as well as a power-folding 60/40-split third-row bench.


Acquisition

A brand new 2015 Lincoln Navigator starts at $63,195 in rear-wheel drive configuration and standard wheelbase, making it almost ten grand cheaper than the base 2016 Cadillac Escalade. Adding the optional four-wheel drive system increases the price to $66,770 while the standard Navigator L starts at $65,560 ($69,135 with all-wheel drive). If you're in the market for a big luxury SUV like the Navigator, you should know that Lincoln will launch an all-new aluminum model in the second half of 2016. If you can't wait that long, you may want to consider a 2016 Escalade or a less posh and much cheaper 2015 Ford Expedition (the vehicle the Navigator is based upon).

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Dan Mihalascu
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