Navigator Concept Hints at ʼ17 Production Model

The nautical-inspired large luxury SUV concept has over-the-top elements such as gull-wing doors, concertina steps and a “wardrobe management system.”

March 23, 2016

3 Min Read
Lincoln Navigator concept
Lincoln Navigator concept.

NEW YORK – Lincoln hints at its next-generation Navigator large SUV with a concept set to debut this morning at the 2016 New York International Auto Show.

“Imagine a large SUV that is sleek and welcoming, with a design that recalls high-end sailboats and yachts…imagine being greeted with artfully engineered gull wing doors and teak-trimmed concertina steps that unfold right in front of you,” Kumar Galhotra, president-Lincoln, tells media at a sneak peek of the over-the-top concept here Monday night.

Galhotra won’t specify which of the concept’s elements will make it into production, but right away notes the gull-wing doors won’t as customers aren’t clamoring for such a feature.

“It’s a concept. It’s good to have fun with concepts,” Galhotra says. “And a big part of this vehicle is on the inside. It’s about spaciousness; it’s about how families interact with each other on the interior of the vehicle. So we wanted to show off this great interior, and what better way than to open up the body side.”

Some of the interior elements Lincoln wanted to make easier to see include six light-blue leather seats with unique stitching and which are adjustable to 30 positions; a wardrobe management system that, continuing the yacht theme, “holds gear chosen for a day on the water;” and wide screens integrated into head restraints that allow wireless sharing of music and other content from personal devices via Wi-Fi.

The storm-blue exterior color of the vehicle also is sailing-inspired, mimicking light blues and grays of “sea and sky,” Lincoln says.

The production grille will be similar to the one shown here on the concept, Galhotra tells WardsAuto.

Another element that has a good chance of making it into production is the concept’s 3.5L twin-turbo V-6, making 400 hp. Lincoln also is using a 3.0L twin-turbo V-6 in the production ’17 Continental sedan due this fall.

Galhotra is mum on the vehicle’s chassis and other engine options, including hybrid powertrains and a V-8. The latter engine type has been seen as a necessity in large SUVs, but as twin-turbo and hybrid V-6s become more prevalent that is changing.

True to today’s luxury segment, the Navigator concept is filled with advanced safety technology, such as pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and lane-keep assist, as well as driver-selectable modes that vary steering and suspension settings and interior noise levels.

Many competitors in the segment, including the recently redesigned Cadillac Escalade and refreshed Infiniti QX80 and Lexus LX, approach or exceed $100,000. Galhotra says the production Navigator due on the market by the end of next year will be priced appropriately within its segment.

Low fuel prices in the U.S. have propelled demand for large luxury SUVs, with deliveries in WardsAuto’s Large Luxury SUV segment rising 19.0% last year and 13.9% in February vs. year-ago.

Galhotra is unconcerned by a possible drop in sales should fuel prices climb, noting a segment of the U.S. and global population (the new Navigator is China-bound) will buy such a vehicle regardless.

“During the lifecycle of the Navigator, gas prices have gone very high and very low, and they will continue to fluctuate. Longer-term our customers still have a need for the space and capability for the lifestyles they have,” he says.

Space and capability were important selling points for the original Navigator that debuted in 1997 and Galhotra doesn’t see that changing.

“A lot of younger, (affluent) families are buying the (current) Navigator,” he says. “The demographic between 25 and 44 is the fastest-growing demographic for Navigator sales.”

Navigator deliveries rose 11.0% last month to 957 units and were up 14.7% last year to 11,964, while Lincoln sales in those periods climbed 30.4% and 7.1%, respectively.

The No.1-selling model in the Large Luxury SUV segment in 2015 was the Escalade, with 21,320 deliveries, a 9.0% increase from 2014.

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