With its capable powertrain, spacious interior and updated touchscreen control interface, the 2016 Lincoln Navigator is a solid choice for a traditional luxury SUV. If you don't need all of its capabilities, though, there are plenty of high-end crossovers that are easier to drive on a daily basis.
The 2016 Lincoln Navigator gets a completely redesigned touchscreen control interface known as Sync 3.Read more
Plush ride; roomy third-row seat; typically less expensive than comparable rivals.
Given the sheer variety of utility vehicles and crossovers on the market, it's no surprise that full-size luxury SUVs like the 2016 Lincoln Navigator now occupy only a small portion of it. The Navigator caters to a very specific type of buyer who wants three rows of seating, lots of space and the ability to tow a boat, in a vehicle overflowing with traditional American style.
A substantial refresh for 2015 brought an extensive aesthetic makeover and a powerful yet fuel-efficient turbocharged V6 engine that helped the Navigator get back up to speed in this class. With a major infotainment system overhaul for 2016, there's an even stronger case to be made for Lincoln's large SUV if it fits your lifestyle. The new BlackBerry-powered Sync 3 touchscreen electronics interface should address some of the usability issues with the previous MyLincoln Touch interface, as the company is touting quicker response times and a simplified menu that appears as a strip at the bottom of the central touchscreen. Sync 3 also features intuitive pinch-and-swipe functions just like a smartphone, while matching the feature-rich excellence of MyLincoln Touch. Time will tell whether it's embraced by owners, but based on our initial impressions, Sync 3 seems to be a real step forward.
Last year's refresh gave the Lincoln Navigator a more modern look, but it remains a large, traditionally styled SUV.
As in past years, the Lincoln Navigator seats seven or eight, depending on the seating configuration you select, and a choice of two different wheelbases. Both offer plenty of hauling capacity, but if you're using all three rows for passengers, the long-wheelbase L provides worthwhile breathing room for groceries or a stroller. On top of all this space, the 2016 Navigator has a 9,000-pound towing capacity. The obvious downside to this level of capability is the Navigator's plus-size footprint. This is not a small vehicle, and even with all available electronic safety aids equipped, it takes concentration to maneuver it in tight spaces. If you're not planning to tap into the Lincoln's capabilities very often, we highly recommend looking at a three-row luxury crossover instead.
Shoppers who do need something on the order of the 2016 Lincoln Navigator will certainly want to take stock of its two main competitors: the Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. The Escalade comes with a strong V8 engine and offers a few features you can't get on the Lincoln, including adaptive cruise control and a rearward collision mitigation system. The Caddy has a cramped third-row seat and less cargo volume, however. The Mercedes, meanwhile, has the nicest interior of the three and an available diesel engine for buyers seeking more in the way of efficiency. Overall, though, the 2016 Lincoln Navigator is a solid entry in this class, and its relatively low pricing makes it all the more appealing.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2016 Lincoln Navigator is a full-size luxury SUV that's available in two main versions: the standard-wheelbase Navigator and the extended-wheelbase Navigator L. Both feature three rows of seats that, with the standard second-row captain's chairs, can accommodate a total of seven passengers. An available three-person 40/20/40-split second-row bench seat increases seating capacity to eight.
Both versions of the 2016 Navigator come in Select and Reserve equipment packages. The base Select package includes 20-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, foglights, a heavy-duty tow package, front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, rear privacy glass, a power liftgate, power-folding running boards, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear auxiliary controls, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats (with power lumbar), power-adjustable pedals, driver seat memory settings, second-row captain's chairs and a power-folding 60/40-split third-row bench.
Also included are an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, the Sync 3 interface with an 8-inch touchscreen, voice controls, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, a navigation system, smartphone app integration and a 14-speaker surround-sound audio system with HD radio, satellite radio and two USB ports.
The Reserve package adds 22-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, a two-tone exterior paint scheme and upgraded leather upholstery that also covers the doors, dash and console.
Individual options include a sunroof, heated second-row seats, 22-inch polished aluminum wheels (sold in combination with the adaptive suspension) and second-row console storage (between the captain's chairs). A rear-seat entertainment system with twin, independent 7-inch headrest-mounted screens is sold as an accessory.
Powertrains and Performance
Power for the 2016 Lincoln Navigator comes from a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine that puts out 380 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard. A light-duty four-wheel-drive system (no low-range gearing) is optional.
At the Edmunds test track, a standard-wheelbase Navigator 4WD made the sprint to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, an average time for a luxury SUV.
The EPA's estimated fuel economy for the 2015 Navigator with two-wheel drive is 18 mpg combined (16 city/22 highway), and 17 mpg combined (15/20) with four-wheel drive. The long-wheelbase versions come in at 17 mpg combined (15/20) and 16 mpg combined (15/19) for 2WD and 4WD, respectively.
Properly equipped, a rear-wheel-drive Navigator is capable of towing up to 9,000 pounds, outdoing its main competitors.
The 2016 Lincoln Navigator comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front-seat side airbags, three-row side 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. The standard programmable MyKey system allows parents to specify speed limits and stereo volume limits for their teenage drivers.
In simulated panic stops from 60 mph, a 4WD Navigator came to a standstill in 125 feet. This distance is a bit better than average for a large SUV.
In government crash testing, the 2015 Lincoln Navigator scored a top overall rating of five stars out of five. All Navigator models earned five stars for frontal-impact and side-impact crash protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Open the door to any 2016 Lincoln Navigator, and an illuminated "welcome mat" beckons you into its upscale cabin, which features standard heated and ventilated front seats and a 14-speaker surround-sound audio system. The leather upholstery feels rich, especially in Navigators with the Reserve package, but there are low-quality plastics here and there that detract from the luxury experience.
This interior's greatest strength is its sheer size. Passengers in the standard first- and second-row captain's chairs enjoy comfortable accommodations with plenty of room to stretch out. Even in the standard-wheelbase version, the third row feels remarkably spacious, with true, adult-sized legroom.
As you'd expect, there's plenty of room to stretch out in the second row of the Lincoln Navigator.
Although the climb to that third row is a little awkward, optional motorized running boards (that retract when the vehicle is in motion) and the abundance of headroom once inside certainly help with this challenge. Part of the credit here is due to the Navigator's independent rear suspension (rather than a solid axle) that allows the third row to be packaged lower in the chassis, resulting in a lower floor and more room for passengers.
When it comes to hauling cargo, both Navigator models excel. With all the rear seats folded, the shorter-wheelbase version offers a healthy 103 cubic feet of cargo room, while the extended Navigator L comes in at an expansive 128 cubic feet. Easing cargo-loading chores is the standard power-folding third-row seat that folds flat into the floor with the touch of a button, and returns upright just as effortlessly.
With its rear seats folded, the Navigator has ample cargo volume. Families using all three rows will prefer the L model.
The central multifunction touchscreen offers a clean, logical layout for navigation, audio, phone and climate controls. Backed by many redundant voice commands, Lincoln's Sync 3 can be a powerful tool for configuring and controlling the vehicle as well as your smartphone. There is a learning curve with Sync, but the new system is designed similarly to a smartphone, using gestures such as pinch-to-zoom or swipes. Once you connect your phone it can access your weather, music and other integrated smartphone apps. Additional features include Siri Eyes Free compatibility for iPhones and the ability to update the system over a wireless network.
The revised 2016 Lincoln Navigator maintains the previous generation's personality, offering a quiet cabin and a smooth, unruffled ride. The powerful turbocharged V6 makes it feel relatively light on its feet while carrying a full load of passengers and while tackling hills and/or pulling a trailer. You won't hear a V8 rumble, but you might feel as if there's one under the hood.
Thanks to its independent rear suspension, the Navigator has an excellent ride quality, even with the optional 22-inch wheels, and shows surprising poise around turns for such a big vehicle. Alongside competitors like the Escalade and GL-Class, the Lincoln Navigator is arguably the best-handling, and truly feels smaller than it is. At the same time, the Navigator's imposing dimensions, especially those of the long-wheelbase L version, make it a handful in crowded parking lots and garages.