NEW YORK – If the redone ’18 Lincoln Navigator fullsize SUV looks subtly styled compared with more dramatically designed competitors, such as the Cadillac Escalade, well, that’s the point.
Ford’s luxury division bills the Navigator, unveiled here on the eve of the New York International Auto Show, as embodying “quiet luxury” in both the way it looks and the way occupants feel about it.
“In our research, we get to see the total market,” Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra tells WardsAuto at the debut venue, the grounds of a mansion off Fifth Ave. “There are customers who like aggressively designed vehicles, but there are others who like elegant vehicles.”
Cue the Navigator.
It has been redesigned inside and out, with special attention paid to the interior, says David Woodhouse, Lincoln design director.
Lincoln sold 10,421 Navigators last year, down 12.9% from 2015, according to WardsAuto data. Escalade sales totaled 39,092 units in 2016, up more than 3,000 from the year before.
“The Navigator is a vehicle that needed to be reborn,” Woodhouse tells WardsAuto. “This (redesign) is giving it the attention it deserves as the original fullsize luxury SUV in the segment. The interior is the biggest deal.”
Designers put special emphasis on ultra-luxury touch points, he says. “We took everything the client would see and touch, and made sure it would look and feel a little more exuberant, a little more indulgent and incredibly beautiful.”
Lincoln kicked up the technology both to improve driving dynamics and provide first-class travel.
But it is not enough to just layer on the latest high-tech stuff, Ford CEO Mark Fields tells a huddle of journalists at the unveiling. He has made it a special project to revitalize Lincoln, the No.8 luxury auto brand in the U.S. It once occupied the No.2 spot.
“Sometimes the industry just says, ‘Here’s the latest technology,’ but we’re trying to put an experience on it,” he says.
The driver and front-seat passenger seat offer massage, heating and cooling functionality, and can be adjusted up to 30 different ways.
Standard SYNC 3 with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility enables occupants to manage audio, phone and navigation from the vehicle touchscreen or steering wheel-mounted controls.
Second-row passengers have their own audio and climate control. Third-row seats feature power recline capability.
An optional rear-seat entertainment system allows passengers to stream content wirelessly with an Android device to one of the 10-in. screens mounted on the rear of the front seats. Content also can be accessed through more traditional devices like an SD card, an HDMI cord or a USB, as well as through SYNC AppLink.
USB portals “are everywhere,” Galhotra says.
An available Revel II audio system includes 20 speakers that work in concert with Navigator’s interior design and acoustics. This is intended to transform the cabin into a personal amphitheater.
At night, interior ambient lights sequentially illuminate each of the SUV’s three rows. During the day, natural light comes in through a panoramic sun roof.
The vehicle is powered by a twin-turbo V6 engine. It produces 450 hp delivered through a 10-speed transmission.
Navigator’s lighter, high-strength aluminum-alloy body removes nearly 200 lbs. (91 kg). That weight reduction has been reinvested in features such as towing capability and laminated front and side glass to enhance quietness.
The Navigator offers speed-dependent adaptive lighting, a new Lincoln technology that provides a wider spread of light at lower speeds for increased visibility, particularly when driving through residential areas. As the vehicle accelerates, light beam narrows to help eliminate the glare off signs and other potential distractions.
When the driver approaches the vehicle, the chrome Lincoln logo on the grille illuminates. LED lighting in the lower front body and taillights goes on and a luminous Lincoln “welcome mat” appears beneath the front doors.
“We’re trying to surprise and delight,” Fields says. “The vehicle embraces owners even before they are inside.”