Well played, Lincoln. You managed to attract the attention of the automotive world the way a porch light attracts moths in July. We were drawn to those massive gullwing doors on your Navigator concept awed by their audacity. “They’ll never build it.” I heard. “It’s a gimmick.” others said. Both statements, of course, are true. But those doors are also brilliant. Because they not only made us look, but they open wide to showcase how you intend to fix the biggest flaw in the current Navigator, its interior.
When I reviewed the refreshed 2015 Lincoln Navigator last year, here’s what I had to say about its weaknesses, “… the seats themselves look and feel pedestrian, offering little bolstering and support, especially in the second and third rows.” I went on to add, “If you’re all about the bling, technology and over-the-top creature comforts, you’ll either have to wait for the fully redesigned Navigator which should make an appearance in a couple of years, or spend more and opt for one of its more luxurious competitors.”
Well, it’s just a year later and here you are, a new Navigator with a brand new interior concept that not only fixes the issues with your pedestrian seats but also exceeds the competition in the deployment of technology in service of the driver and passengers. And, those silly doors give us unfettered access to see it all. So let’s climb those cascading concertina steps and take a look at this new interior, shall we? Because this is this stuff that will find its way into production in the next year or so.
Inside the new Navigator is bigger, more luxurious and more technologically savvy than ever. In this show vehicle, the big SUV is equipped with six of the 30-way adjustable seats that debuted in the Continental earlier this year. These supremely comfortable thrones allow people of all heights and body types to adjust the seat perfectly for themselves. Other nice touches include the custom wardrobe management system and Lincoln’s Revel audio system which has been specifically tuned to fill the cavernous interior with pure, powerful, high quality sound.
Gaze around the cabin and you’ll see elegant touches everywhere; leather surfaces; a minimalist instrument panel and dashboard; open pore wood inlays; a judicious use of chrome trim, and a network of individual entertainment centers that allow each passenger to customize their experience. Because the system is networked, however, it allows passengers to interact with each other, sharing screens, playing games, and more. Via a camera in that’s pointed at the driver, he or she can appear on each screen to talk to the passengers without having to turn around and take his eyes off the road.
Navigator will also take the lead in assisted and semi-autonomous driving technologies. Ford is quickly working toward fully-autonomous driving and at a luncheon I attended with Elena Ford, great-granddaughter of company founder Henry Ford and Vice President of Global Consumer Experience, they promised they would have self-driving cars ready for sale by 2020, just four years from now. As such, the technology in the new Navigator includes pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, a 360-degree camera system with hands-free park assist, adaptive cruise control, active lane keep assist that nudges the Navigator back to the center if you wander a little too close to the curb or centerline.
Mechanically, the Navigator will feature an enhanced version of its 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 engine, making more than 400 horsepower so you’ll still be able to tow that boat, horse trailer or camper. It will also feature a drive mode select feature that will adjust vehicle performance, handling and ride comfort based on where and how you want to drive. There’s no word yet on the actual platform, but my best guess is that it will use the underpinning from the new F-150, keeping the strong and capable characteristics that current owners love about the Navigator.
So for the second year in a row, Lincoln steals the New York Auto Show with a surprising and important vehicle introduction that refreshes one of their iconic nameplates. The Navigator is a huge (pun intended) step forward and critical to helping Lincoln regain relevance in the world of luxury automobiles.