The world belongs to crossovers—and SUVs—but if the scale weren’t so apparent, the 2016 Lincoln Navigator Concept—making its debut at the New York International Auto Show—would be a crossover. But the Navigator Concept is huge, just like the current Navigator, and really as big as a full-size SUV should be. But the Navigator Concept, instead of the three parallel lines that form the rocker panels, window sills and roof line of the current Navigator, has a tapering roof, much like a Land Rover Discovery Sport or Range Rover Sport , and also, for instance, the Kia Sportage and Toyota Highlander. It’s maybe what a full-size luxury SUV should be these days, but it’s still disconcerting.
And then there’s The Grille. It’s new, replacing the short-lived Lincoln wings. Like the rest of the Navigator Concept, it’s huge too, but but hardly out of scale. Consider the 2016 Cadillac Escalade, the Navigator’s natural competition. Or compare it to the Audi Q5, with its nothing-but-grille-and-headlights front end. The grille does match that of the Lincoln Continental, the new handsome and distinctive face of Lincoln.
The body is new, but whether it will be aluminum or whether the Navigator will still be built with body-on-frame construction wasn’t brought up. Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln, who along with actor and Lincoln spokesman Matthew McConaughey, instead revealed just that the engine would be a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine delivering “more than 400 horsepower.”
More than mechanicals, Galhotra talked about the technology. Actually, make that “smart new technologies.” The Lincoln Navigator Concept, for example, has drive modes that affect steering, suspension and even noise levels. The mode selected, in addition to the functional changes, reconfigures the instrument panel animation. That’s not exactly new—see the Volvo S80, for example—though it is to the Lincoln Navigator.
Other things already being done are surround cameras providing an overhead view, and a lane-keeping system vibrates the steering wheel to warn drivers drifting across lane markers and provides mild steering input back toward the center of the lane.
A concept car novelty, on the other hand, is a wardrobe closet that “holds gear chosen for a day on the water.” You’ll never see that on a production model. It’s auto show goober bait.
And those gullwing doors and “concertina” fold-down steps? Don’t expect them on the production model either. The doors are there to show the interior of the concept car, and the steps are a bit of concept car sparkle that’s impractical and in real life, really goofy. Really, can you imagine leaving that with the valet?
At this time the Navigator is the only Lincoln with a name instead of an alpha-numeric designation. Lincoln sells more crossovers and SUVs than cars—mostly then MKC compact crossover—but Lincoln hopes the Navigator will ride the groundswell of fascination of non-car transportation. How much size matters remains to be seen with the production Lincoln Navigator arrives in 2017 for the 2018 model year.