New York auto show 2016: Lincoln Unveils Big-SUV future with Navigator concept

  • 23-Mar-2016 12:42 EDT
Lincoln navigator concept reveal.jpg

The stupendously-sized gullwing doors dominated the Lincoln Navigator Concept's unveiling prior to the start of the 2016 New York auto show (photo by Bill Visnic; for more images, click the arrow at the upper right).

Intent on staying on its message of reinvigorating its brand under the banner of “quiet luxury,” Ford’s premium-vehicle unit, Lincoln, used the 2016 New York auto show to reveal what almost certainly will remembered as one of the most audacious concept cars ever, the Lincoln Navigator Concept.

Two stupendously-sized gullwing doors lift to allow full access to the SUV’s first and second seating rows, with 30-position adjustable seats “floating” on pedestal attachments that eliminate traditional seat tracks, full-length “concertina” steps are power-deployed to create a waterfall of steps for entry and exit and a “wardrobe management system” in the cargo area looks like something Tony Stark dreamed up to secure his Iron Man gear.

“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,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln, in a statement. “This kind of quiet luxury sets Lincoln apart. Now, we’re showing fans of large SUVs how we can exceed their expectations, without being the loudest statement on the road.”

At a media event prior to the Navigator Concept’s public unveiling at the New York auto show, neither Galhotra or other Lincoln officials would commit to which—if any—of the concept SUV’s most outlandish and ostentatious features would end up on the production version of the fullsize SUV expected next year, but it was quietly conceded the enormous gullwing doors are purely a flight of fancy, serving the purpose, for now, of allowing a totally unfettered view of the Navigator Concept’s brilliantly detailed interior.

But one Lincoln source said that while the power-deployed concertina steps also probably should be considered a concept feature, the stunning pedestal seat design, which Ford and other automakers have teased sporadically over the years, could be ready for a production-vehicle debut, emphasis on “could.”

Lincoln said its designers “drew inspiration from luxury sailboats and yachts when designing the new concept. This influenced everything from the clean, modern lines and Storm Blue paint on the exterior that mimics the grays and blues of sea and sky, to the teak finishes, custom gear and wardrobe management system found inside.” Also stunning was the matte aluminum-like finish of the Navigator Concept’s interior trim and the startlingly elegant “piano key” layout of its pushbutton transmission gearshift arrangement.

Power for the Lincoln Navigator Concept comes from a 400-hp version of Ford’s 3.5-L Ecoboost V6. Although Lincoln executives didn’t provide further details, it’s almost certain the production version of the new Navigator also will have a version of the Ford and General Motors co-developed 10-speed automatic transmission that Ford is launching later this year with the F-150 Raptor.

The Lincoln Navigator Concept also incorporates the expected raft of electronic advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), including pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist and advanced automatic parking for both entering and exiting parking spots. But it’s likely the Navigator that reaches Lincoln showrooms next year will include even more-advanced autonomous-driving features in order for Lincoln to retain parity with luxury-brand rivals such as Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Volvo and even Tesla—even if the customer-ready Navigator probably won’t be available with the gullwing doors that have become a signature for Tesla’s newest utility vehicle.

Lincoln officials would not commit to a timeframe for the Navigator’s 2017 showroom appearance, but said the brand fully intends to remain a player in the fullsize SUV segment that it helped create with the original Navigator’s launch in 1997.

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