The Future Looks Bright for the Lincoln Navigator
You know what always attracts a crowd at an auto show? Gull-wing doors. You know what Lincoln needs nowadays? A crowd. In the midst of an ambitious comeback (spearheaded by the 2017 Continental), the brand’s full-size Navigator is due for a refresh, and instead of selling it on looks alone in a sea of new models and concepts, Lincoln managed to add some serious dream car flair to the mix by way of the largest gull-wings we’ve ever seen – and on the floor of the New York International Auto Show, it worked. Gull-wing doors or not, this is the best looking Navigator since… well, maybe ever. In fact, it could be enough to win some long-lost buyers back from its arch rival, the Cadillac Escalade.
But first, those doors. Lincoln has decided to take “gull-wing” seriously and give the Navigator a heavy nautical theme, complete with a dusky blue color palate that dominates inside and out, and decking out the interior with teak wood like a high end yacht – or a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé. As the massive doors open upward, a set of three steps lowers to the ground to allow passengers easy access to the three-row seating. While it looks space-age, it reminds us of the one-off “Disappearing Door” Lincoln Mk VIII prototypes in the ’90s. Will they make production? Hell no. But they sure do look great.
While we can’t expect a three-ton gull-winged SUV at our local Ford-Lincoln dealer anytime soon, the rest of the Navigator looks nearly production-ready. Lincoln has finally figured out how to differentiate the Navigator from its Ford Expedition underpinnings, thanks to some heavy borrowing from the new Continental – and controversially, the Range Rover. After spending time with it in New York, we like it at least as much as we like the Escalade’s styling. Inside, we like it even more.
One of the biggest carryovers from the Continental concept to the production car were Ford’s all-new 30-way power seats. Not only are they some of the most comfortable thrones in the industry, they also look like those space-age concept car seats that automakers have been promising but coming up short on since about 1955 or so. There are six of them in the Navigator, along with a very smart-looking dash and center console that runs the entire length of the cabin. In our writeup of the production Continental, we said:
Overall, the interior design stays fairly close to the concept’s and has all of the electronic accoutrements you’d expect in a premium luxury car, but in its final state, it still has too much switchgear from the Ford parts bin for our liking.
The production SUV will likely have Ford bits too, but the Continental dash and console just seemed too similar to the new Lincoln MKZ – and the Ford Fusion – for our liking. If the Navigator can reach showrooms without borrowing too heavily from the plebeian Expedition, it could go a long way in reestablishing Lincoln as a serious contender, and maybe even put a dent in the Escalade’s red-hot sales.
Underneath the new sheet metal and interior lies Ford’s 3.5 liter twin-turbo V6 and six-speed automatic from the current Navigator. Power is up from the current 380 to over 400 horsepower, and while there’s no word on torque yet (the current model has 380), we’d imagine that there’d be at least that much to tow your boat with your nautical-themed Lincoln.
The new Navigator will appear in 2017, and we’d be shocked if the only differences were a couple more doors and a less complex interior. With the Continental-inspired MKZ, the Continental, and now the Navigator, it looks like Ford’s investment in Lincoln is finally beginning to pay off. Now we just need to wait and see if car buyers will agree.