ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Crossing the muddy Mississippi River on the I-70 bridge at St. Louis, we're scooting into Missouri aboard a Navigator L Reserve, Lincoln's long-stretched and luxuriously appointed full-size SUV that's refreshed and repowered for 2015.
As the biggest and most luxurious SUV ever from Lincoln, the Navigator models of 2015 show revised sheetmetal styling outside, fancy new fittings in the cavernous passenger compartment and a new high-performance yet highly-efficient V6 engine under the hood.
For 2015 Lincoln builds two versions -- a standard-length Navigator with 119-inch wheelbase and the Navigator L extended-length edition with a foot-long wheelbase extension and vast space in the 7- or 8-seat cabin including 24 cubic feet of extra space in the cargo bay.
Both Navigator and Navigator L offer two traction modes (2-wheel-drive and 4-wheel-drive) and a choice of appointments clustered in two packages (Select and Reserve).
A front-end face lift adds the Lincoln split-wing grille with jewel-like daytime running lights and high-intensity discharge adaptive headlamps with LED accents.
Sole powertrain for Navigator and Navigator L is a new dual-cam and twin-turbo all-aluminum 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with direct-injection and performance-enhancing Ti-VVT (twin independent variable camshaft timing) technology worth 380 hp at 5250 rpm and torque of 460 lb-ft from 2750 rpm.
The EcoBoost V6 links to a 6-speed electronic automatic SelectShift transaxle. This powertrain achieves 2015 EPA fuel economy scores of 16 mpg for city driving and 22 mpg on the highway for Navigator standard-wheelbase 2WD versions and 15/19 mpg (city/highway) with 4WD.
The rigid truck body-on-frame architecture for Navigator is composed of high-strength steel boxed rails to support a suspension system rarely found on a truck-based wagon -- there are independent components suspending all four wheels.
The scheme in front uses an independent double wishbone short- and long-arm (SLA) configuration with coil-over shocks and a stabilizer bar. In the rear there's an independent multi-link arrangement with coil-over shocks plus a stabilizer bar. And monotube shocks mounted at the four corners allow for precise tuning.
Optional Lincoln Drive Control brings continuously controlled damping for a smoother ride quality with driver-select control modes -- normal, sport, comfort.
The rack and pinion steering system on 2015 Navigator models receives electric power assistance, which eliminates a load of hydraulic equipment and contributes to the efficiency of the engine to improve fuel economy.
Brakes for all versions set a disc at every wheel plus an anti-lock braking system and Lincoln's AdvanceTrac electronic stability control device with roll stability control, hill descent control and hill start assist devices.
The optional Control Trac 4WD traction system adds a dashboard knob for dialing up a driving mode, from rear 2-wheel traction to 4-wheel high and low or automatic all-wheel-drive. For pavement ventures the system seamlessly distributes traction to wheels that grip, but when heading off-road the 4WD high and low modes lock the differential and apply torque evenly to all wheels.
Extensive gear comes with Lincoln's luxurious SUV: 20-inch aluminum wheels capped by 275/55R20 tires, chrome side rails with black crossbar roof rack, a remote keyless entry device and new push-button starter, dual climate system with rear auxiliary controls, 10-way power controls for heated and cooled front buckets with leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals with memory, Wollsdorf wood steering wheel trimmed in leather, PowerFold third-row seat split 60/40, a power liftgate, Forward Sensing System, Blind Spot Information System, hard-drive navigation system with dashboard touchscreen and voice activation, rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and a deluxe THX II audio system.
The Reserve Package adds power running boards, upgraded leather-trimmed seats, a hand-wrapped leather and stitched instrument panel, Ziricote wood cabin trim and 22-inch polished aluminum wheels with 285/45R22 tires.
Optional equipment ranges from an Invision headrest DVD entertainment system to a power moonroof, 22-inch polished aluminum wheels and White Platinum Metallic Tri-coat paint.
Lincoln's MSRP numbers for the 2015 Navigator start at $62,475.