In the auto show world, it’s all about timing for new model introductions. Some automakers wait for press days or conduct an invitation-only pre-show gala to show off new vehicles, while others leak teaser shots days or weeks in advance of a major auto show. Still others provide nearly-complete information on what they’ll debut at the show.

Such is the case with the release of details on the 2015 Lincoln Navigator full-size SUV that will take to the stage at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show in early February.

Destined to be in dealer showrooms this fall, the third-generation, eight-passenger Navigator has undergone what is termed a “mild facelift.” The body itself hasn’t changed much, but the lights front are rear have been redesigned. Ditto the front section, which is almost completely new, including LED elements to jazz it up.

In the view of most in the automotive press, Lincoln had to do something in order to maintain a presence against competitors such as the all-new Cadillac Escalade, the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, Land Rover Range Rover and Lexus LX570. Indeed, Navigator sales last year totaled 8,613 units – almost a third of the Escalade’s 2013 model.

The 2015 Navigator will again be available in standard- and extended-length versions, both of which come with third-row seating. Changes include bigger 20-inch wheels taking the place of 18-inchers standard on last year’s model, and 22-inch wheels are an option.

Performance

What really matters is that the 2015 Navigator has an exclusive V6 engine, the Ford 3.6-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine with direct-injection. That combination delivers 370 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. That’s up significantly from the previous Navigator’s 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque in the 5.8-liter V8, an engine that has been dropped from the Navigator lineup.

A six-speed automatic continues as standard, but now features SelectShift pseudo manual control.

Four-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive configurations are also still available. An optional Control Trac Four-Wheel-Drive system helps enhance traction on slippery surfaces, and Lincoln says it works together with the electronic power steering system to improve handling.

Another new item for the 2015 Navigator is Lincoln’s Drive Control suspension damping system. It automatically monitors multiple vehicle sensors and road conditions every two milliseconds, adjusting suspension settings to create a smooth ride. The system features a driver-choice of Normal, Sport and Comfort modes. The Navigator also features a load-leveling feature, called the Nivomat system, which automatically raises a loaded rear end to an optimum ride height for better handling.

According to Lincoln, the projections are for best-in-class towing, although the automaker didn’t release any specifics. The Cadillac Escalade, by way of contrast, has a tow rating of 8,200 pounds.

Completely revamped cabin

Step inside and the 2015 Navigator has some big changes in store. These include a new dash and a cabin that’s been completely redesigned. Available options include such premium touches as genuine wood trim, brushed metal accents and surfaces in hand-wrapped leather.

Two bucket seats are standard for the middle row, although buyers can opt for captain’s chairs or a 40/20/40 split bench seat.

Remote entry and start is easy without taking a key fob out of the pocket. Illuminated floor mats are standard, as is SYNC with MyLincoln Touch interface, which includes a 4.2-inch LCD display, an eight-inch touchscreen in the center stack and easy-operating, traditional knob controls for popular functions.

In the regular-length model, there’s 18.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. That number jumps to 42.6 cubic feet in the extended-length Navigator. The third row also folds flat with the touch of a button.

A rearview camera is standard. A power moonroof and a blind spot detection system are available options.

Pricing for the 2015 Lincoln Navigator hasn’t yet been announced, but is expected to continue to come in around $60,000.

 

 

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