2015 Lincoln Navigator 4×4 Reserve car review: Something old, something new, and something really big

2015 Lincoln Navigator 4x4 Reserve

2015 Lincoln Navigator 4×4 Reserve

Something old, something new is the ultimate description of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator. Lincoln’s big SUV gets a much needed cosmetic makeover with an updating of assorted features, plus a new twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 engine, but still it’s tradition all the way.

Let’s talk tradition later, however. Let’s look at the new because there’s a lot of it. Most noticeable is the Navigator’s new face. Designers had no problem ditching the old heat duct grille, but fitting Lincoln’s current wing grille design idiom, created for flowing body contours, onto the rectangular contours of the Navigator must have been a challenge, and one well met. The designers simply squared off the wings, added some LED’s and horizontal lines to emphasize the Navigator’s size and there it is. Navigator buyers are looking for big, so give them what they want. It makes last year’s Navigator look so 20th Century, and not in a good way.

2015 Lincoln Navigator 4x4 Reserve interior

The 2015 Lincoln Navigator 4×4 Reserve interior is loaded with leather and wood. (click to enlarge)

The designers also squared off the rear of the 2016 Lincoln Navigator, with sharp creases on the bumper, a large flat panel and a horizontal side-to-side LED taillight feature that makes the 2016 Navigator look even wider than it really is, and that’s saying a lot. There are, Lincoln notes, a total of 222 LEDs on the exterior. And then there’s “LINCOLN” spelled out all across the liftgate in big letters, just so those following will know.

(Neatest illumination trick: The Lincoln crosshair logo projected on the ground as a puddle lamp, new this year).

Standard on the 2015 Lincoln Navigator are 20-inch wheels, but the Reserve package of our test vehicle came equipped with 22-inch wheels fitted with 285/45R22 tires. The curious will ask how much to replace those tires, to which we’ll answer, about $200 per each.

2015 Lincoln Navigator 4x4 Reserve third-row seat

The 2015 Lincoln Navigator 4×4 Reserve’s third-row seat is thin by well off the floor. (click to enlarge)

The 2016 Lincoln Navigator includes fold-out steps as standard. You only have to be standing too close to the Navigator once to be thwacked in the shins as the step folds out before you learn to step back. It’s wide enough for actual feet and it’s a real aid for getting in. It will collect some slop in the winter—we drove through some muddy puddles and some found its way into the retracted steps, but winter slop is winter slop.

Inside the Navigator with the Reserve package, as one might expect, is luxurious with all the expected bits, or at least most of them, with leather on all three rows of seats, and on the dash, hand-fitted and contrast stitched, and even on the glovebox door.

The wood trim in the 2015 Lincoln Navigator is of course real wood. It’s something called ziricote wood, which is wood from the ziricote tree, and we looked this up, Ziricote is an exotic wood native to the Central American countries of Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. It is a hard, dense wood, with a medium texture. Now you know. Amaze your friends.

2015 Lincoln Navigator 4x4 Reserve cargo area

We photographed the 2015 Lincoln Navigator 4×4 Reserve cargo area before we learned how to make the second-row seats form a flat load floor, which they do. (click to enlarge)

The front seats are heated and cooled, the second row heated and the third neither. The second row can be what Lincoln calls captain’s chairs, though certainly less comfy from row one, with thinner cushions and less bolstering, or a bench seat for three. The third row does, however, get a surprising amount of legroom, and unlike many three-row SUVs, the seats aren’t on the floor. And while we’re at it, access is to the third row is easy, even for reasonably limber adults. The second row, however, disappoint, well short of the comfort of the front seats.

On the other hand, after a fair amount of moving stuff about, after one gets the hang of it, the second row seatbacks fold flat and then shoving the whole assembly forward and down. and level with the load floor made by folding the third row seatbacks forward And that, because the seatbacks are much too far from the rear opening to release manually, are power operated both up and down. Our only complaint—and when it comes to SUV cargo areas we have to have one—there’s a gap between the second row seatbacks when folded. Still, sliding in large objects is easy…although if you can afford a Lincoln Navigator, why aren’t you using store delivery?

2015 Lincoln Navigator 4x4 Reserve cargo area

We photographed the 2015 Lincoln Navigator 4×4 Reserve cargo area before we learned how to make the second-row seats form a flat load floor, which they do. (click to enlarge)

The Navigator comes in a standard and a longer extended length, with wheelbases of 119.0 and 131.0 inches respectively. It shows up internally in cargo capacity. The long wheelbase model has a total of 128.2 cubic feet volume behind the first row, 86.3 cubic feet behind the second row and 42.6 cubic feet behind the third row. Standard-wheelbase models have 103.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row, 54.4 cubic feet behind the second row and 18.1 cubic feet behind the third row. That’s where the extra room in the longer room goes, by the way. Leg room on the standard and extended length Navigators is the same for all three rows, and passenger compartment volume is unchanged.

2015 Lincoln Navigator 4x4 Reserve rear

Does this horizontal taillight make my butt look big? Yes, 2015 Lincoln Navigator 4×4 Reserve, it does. (click to enlarge)

If either standard or long wheelbase Navigators don’t have enough cargo capacity for an owner’s needs, the rear-wheel drive standard-length Navigator can tow up to 9000 pounds. Even the extended length with four-wheel drive is tow rated at 8300 pounds. The longer wheelbase models, however, have a lower final drive ratio, so expect commensurately lower fuel economy by about on mpg, both for its final drive ratio and because of its added weight.