Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
It's true that some wines taste better with age. The unique blend of sugars, acids and minerals all determine its aroma and taste. As the wine ages, the flavour matures. Could the same be true for cars? Here we have the Lincoln Navigator, the luxury brand's full-size SUV that locks horns with the Cadillac Escalade and the Chevrolet Tahoe. It's been lightly refreshed for the 2015 model year, yet it still shows signs and symptoms of the old Ford Expedition. That's because the Navigator is essentially the same vehicle as the one they sold in 2007, the equivalent of an eternity in the auto industry. Most people I've talked to thought it still looked like a pre-2010 vehicle despite the recent makeover. "Why does the front look so sad?" they questioned.
I'd have to disagree with their opinions. The age has done the Navigator a great favour sporting a grown up, matured, and classy physique - it makes the Escalade look like a little boy who just stumbled into a diamond shop. The front fascia looks the most refreshed due to the new HID headlamps and front split-wing grille that falls in line with Lincoln's new design language. It doesn't wear it as tapered or as contoured as the Lincoln MKZ, but it's edgy and boxy enough to fit in with the SUV image.
A new light bar wraps around the rear and connects the taillights together, akin to the MKC, and heavily exaggerates how wide the car really is (286mm wider than the Cadillac Escalade to be precise). But it's from the sides and rear-quarter view that the Navigator looks the most antiquated. Out back lies a single chrome muffler poking out the rear, whereas most other SUVs have tried to conceal it under their rear bumpers. One of the more alluring parts of the car has got to be our tester's 20-inch aluminum wheels ($750) - they look badass don't they? I'd trade the superior 20-inch ride quality over blingy 22-inch wheels any day.
The Navigator's key selling point is its interior. Despite the familiar Ford DNA, the Lincoln wears a strong leather suit with a litter of veneered wood panels to give it some distinctive colour and ambience over its Expedition underling. The rest of the cabin looks 2007 but with a handful of upgrades to keep it fresh on the market. With the option of second row bench seating, the Navigator can seat up to 8 passengers and thanks to a new suspension, the third row gets a flat floor for increased legroom and cargo volume. There's no point spewing out metric numbers for the interior dimensions - just know that there's an incredible amount of space in the Navigator. You can easily fit a team of 6-foot tall adults and the key word is, comfortably. And if that's not enough, there is a long wheelbase version that offers an additional 693-litres of cargo room behind the third row of seats. There's also a convenient VENT button next to the sunroof controls that opens up the third row's windows. The window pane merely tilts outwards, but it makes a huge difference of letting fresh air in and diminishing the feeling of claustrophobia in the back seats - from the outside, the 'Gator looks like its grown a fresh pair of wings.
It's easy to find a cozy driving position in the Navigator. The wood-covered steering wheel is massive and flushed with controls and buttons. It's quite similar to the new F-150's. The Lincoln SUV comes equipped with a flutter of standard options including heated and cooled front seats, a rear view camera, navigation, blind spot monitoring systems, a sunroof, power running boards, and a THX premium sound system with 14 speakers and a subwoofer that offers 600-watts of audio uproar. There's also a Reserve package ($7250), which wasn't equipped on our tester, that adds 22-inch wheels, flashier running boards, a vastly upgraded leather interior, a coloured headliner for more bling bling, and unique Ziricote wood that's normally found on million-dollar yachts.
Only one engine is available and it's no longer a V8. The Navigator receives a smaller 3.5-litre twin-turbo Ecoboost V6 engine that produces a steamrolling 380 hp and 460 lb-ft. of torque from as low as 2750 rpm - that's the exact same torque figure as the Range Rover's supercharged V8. The Ford F-150 also uses the same Ecoboost engine but falls short of the Lincoln's ratings (365 hp and 420 lb-ft for the Ford). The power delivery is incredibly smooth through its 6-speed automatic transmission and our tester has also been equipped with the 4.10 axle ratio that gives it better acceleration off the line and the ability to tow up to 4082 kg (9000 lbs). It's a sweet engine, one that Ford and Lincoln need to throw into more of their vehicles.
The refreshed Navigator uses a new electric power steering system and a feature known to them as Lincoln Drive Control - a collection of sensors that monitor the road conditions and adjust the car's suspension every 2 milliseconds to provide a smoother and more comfortable ride. There are three modes to choose from: Comfort, Normal, Sport. The new multi-link rear suspension does well isolating small potholes that affect the individual wheels, but when all the wheels become affected by let's say, a speed bump, the truck-like SUV will bounce up and down and make your neck feel like a bobblehead.
In spite of the wavy ride quality, the cabin is almost church silent. There is almost zero engine or exhaust noise that can be heard from the interior when going below 100 km/h. It gets a little louder and harsher when cruising on the highways. The Lincoln's fuel economy should surprise nobody. This ute gave us an average of 16.2 L/100km while Lincoln's official numbers state 16.2, 11.8, and 14.2 in the city, highway, and combined, respectively. The fuel consumption averages we received with the Navigator also come very close to the numbers we got from our Escalade and Tahoe test vehicles a couple months back. Be prepared to dish out around $100 each week to fill up its 106-litre tank.
I have a few gripes with the 2015 Navigator. The first is what Lincoln calls its Keyless Entry System. It's deceiving because while most other vehicles utilize a touch-sensitive area on the door handles to unlock the car, Lincoln instead gives you a keypad. There is no grab-unlock-pull mechanism, instead you have to program the keypad and enter in your password to unlock the vehicle. When was the last time you've seen one of these anyways? And in a 2015 model too? Which leads me to my next issue, the vertical door lock pins that stick out next to the windowpane - a reassuring relic of the past and a lovely target for crowbars. The Navigator is also missing a heated steering wheel and active cruise control on the options list. This SUV was purposefully conceived for long-distance journeys, but it's a shame it doesn't have the technology to keep up.
It's best to look at the 2015 Lincoln Navigator as a mild refresh rather than an entirely new vehicle. Only then can you begin to appreciate the way its aged and matured. 10 years ago, the Navigator was the SUV that defined the American dream. Now it's busy playing catch-up the way my parents are figuring out how to use Emoticons on their iPhones. Fortunately, a new Navigator is headed our way in 2016 to be sold as a 2017 model. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the new version will look just as good as that new Continental Concept car unveiled at the 2015 New York Auto Show. Lincoln has certainly got the pedigree, the technology, and one of the most fuel-efficient and robust Ecoboost engines at its disposal. They just need to find the right formula and amalgamate it together into a winning vehicle. Age has done the Navigator well, but just like the fine bottle of Bordeaux sitting in my dining room cabinet, it's going to take another year before the taste will be spectacular.
型号 Model: 2015 Lincoln Navigator 4x4
顏色 Paint Type: Java Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $75,110
試車售價 Price as Tested: $76,085
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3,022
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,269 / 2,331 / 1,984
引擎 Engine: 3.5L Twin Turbo Charged Direct Injection EcoBoost V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 380 hp @ 5,250 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 460 lb-ft. @ 2,750 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic Transmission with SelectShift
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, Control Trac 4WD
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Independent Short and Long-Arm with coil-over shocks and stabilizer bar
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Power Four-Wheel Disc Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Power Four-Wheel Disc Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 16.2 / 11.8 / 14.2
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Hankook Dynapro HT - P275/55R20