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Operators have indulged a love-hate relationship with big SUVs over the years. They love how these Big Boys accommodate two rows of rear passengers and their cargo, but hate the sense of getting about five blocks per gallon of gas.
How times have changed. Now that the national average for a gallon of gas is less than $3, combined with recent strides to increase SUV fuel economy, now is a good time to consider adding large luxury SUVs to your fleet. It all adds up to good ROI.
Take the newly redesigned 2015 Lincoln Navigator L for example — “L” meaning longer than its regular-length sibling, with more cubic space coupled with a new power plant that sips less gas due to its new EcoBoost V-6 engine that replaces the long-time V8.
At the LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City in October 2014, Lincoln exhibited the Navigator L 4X2 that now sports the split-wing grill design that is the face of the Lincoln fleet lineup. I spent some post-Show road time with the vehicle.
First, it’s big. The longer Navigator has a minimum of 42.6 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the third row, and when it is folded down, there’s enough room to store a Fiat. The PowerFold button quickly submerges the third row, and the 60/40 split-bench second row combine to accommodate six average size passengers.
Second row seats are heated and the dual-zone electronic climate control allows passengers to adjust rear-cabin temperature.
For an SUV of its length and girth, the Navigator maneuvers surprisingly well due to standard electric power-assisted steering. Its 6-speed select-shift transmission and 3.5L V.6 EcoBoost engine deliver 380 horsepower with swift, assured acceleration. Lincoln data says the Navigator averages 17 mpg (15 city/20 highway). I averaged mostly 17.5 to 18 mpg in combination of fairly heavy city and turnpike driving over several days. The L also has a bigger fuel tank (33.5 gallon capacity) compared to the 28-gallon standard model.
The Navigator offers responsive steering and smooth acceleration, and a noticeable tight turning radius eases U-turns and negotiating cramped parking lots. Note to Chauffeurs: Avoid parallel parking. The Navigator’s height, large front end, and 22-inch wheels shield any hazards that might be lurking curbside.You certainly don’t want to nick the Navigator’s “Tuxedo Black” metallic paint.