Lincoln is really out to get noticed. And that's a good thing for a once-prestigious luxury brand that's become all too easy to forget. At last year's New York Auto Show, it added some serious flash and panache to its booth with the Continental Concept, which paved the way for the all-new production Continental. Now Lincoln is putting that same type of effort into the Navigator, showing New York what a cooler, sleeker Navigator of the future could (and will, to some extent) look like.
The Navigator Concept follows the Continental in what Lincoln calls "quiet luxury."
"The all-new Navigator Concept reinforces our commitment to give every Lincoln client what we call quiet luxury – vehicles and experiences that are elegant, effortlessly powerful and serene," explains Lincoln president Kumar Galhotra. "We're showing fans of large SUVs how we can exceed their expectations, without being the loudest statement on the road."
We refuse to believe that anyone could put the Navigator Concept side by side with the 2016 Navigator for more than a half-second and not walk away with the impression that the the concept is a major stylistic improvement, bumper to bumper.
The Navigator Concept follows the Continental in dropping the split-wing grille, long a (weird) hallmark of Lincoln design. That move also frees the reshaped headlights from the grille surrounds, a positive step in itself. The grille drops the slats for a mesh-like design created from Lincoln emblem-shaped cutouts. A large 3D emblem stands strong and proud in the center of that grille, and we'd say it has something to be proud of.
A full-sized SUV like the Navigator won't ever have the sporty, swept-back profile of a coupe, but Lincoln does a good job of giving the Navigator Concept a slick, wind-sculpted look, starting with the lines running up the hood. The roofline picks the theme up, dropping ever so slightly and hovering at the rear thanks to blacked out C and D pillars. The strongly defined character lines along the sides remind us that this is still a big, rugged utility vehicle ready for open spaces and adventure.
While we find the design quite attractive, it also comes across a little too derivative of Range Rover styling. The gentle roofline decline, rear-end angle, blacked-out pillars and tinted glass leave us thinking "stretched Range Rover."
In crafting the new SUV concept, Lincoln designers looked to the seas for inspiration, particularly luxury sailboats and yachts. The Storm Blue paint is a testament to that inspiration, as is the light-blue leather and teak trim inside. The concept also houses a custom wardrobe management system designed to organize the clothing and gear needed for a day out on the water.
The most buzz-worthy parts of the Navigator Concept, if not the most substantive, are the dual gullwing doors that create large, powered entries for front and rear passengers, complete with retractable concertina steps and a special "welcome aboard" lighting sequence. While those wings are sure to grab attention on the auto show floor, you can expect them to fly far, far away when it comes time for production.
Beyond the aforementioned wardrobe management and materials, Lincoln's most spacious interior ever features other goodies, like a large driver display with touch controller, six 30-way adjustable seats, head restraint displays with integrated Wi-Fi for rear passengers, and a premium Revel audio system.
Like the current Navigator, the Navigator Concept is powered by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6. This one has slightly more output at over 400 hp (298 kW), versus 380 hp (283 kW) in the current model. Driving features include multiple drive modes, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection and auto-braking, lane-keeping with vibration alert and mild steering correction, and enhanced park assist with 360-degree camera.
Lincoln is expected to launch the all-new production Navigator next year, and while the official model is sure to lose some of the flash and features of the concept, the show car does provide the promise of more good things to come at Ford's luxury brand.