The SUV that Won New York’s Auto Show By Itself

April 11th, 2017 by

The Lincoln Navigator ConceptThe vehicle that “won last year’s New York auto show” by itself

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Lincoln Motor Company was mired in a period of safe and comfortable design. But they may have finally woken up. I’m not just taking Matthew McConaughey’s word for it; I speak as someone who’s seen the Lincoln Navigator Concept. The proposed SUV combines elite specifications and high-quality materials. Most importantly, its design reaches far ahead of the curve. This is something with which Lincoln used to be synonymous – and may well be again.

The Lincoln Navigator Concept’s “Gull wing doors and Concertina Steps open the vehicle to welcome you. Meanwhile, a wide stance makes you feel secure inside. This is a deft balancing act that yields quiet elegance on a grand scale.” Lincoln likes to repeat the term “quiet” as if it’s a holy virtue. Sure, the Navigator Concept will have advanced safety technology and Active Noise Cancellation. But it’s hard to look the Navigator in the eye, or stare at the curved teeth on the custom wheels, and think that it will (or should) be polite. The Navigator Concept’s engine does little to discourage that notion. With a 3.5L twin-turbocharged engine, it can deliver 400 horsepower. It will also improve upon the 2017 model’s 3900 kg of towing.

The Lincoln Navigator Concept

Of course, the production model will certainly ditch the gull-wing doors and Concertina steps. Lincoln deployed those conceptual flourishes to show off the Navigator’s interior, which is the SUV’s largest ever. When “in flight,” the doors reveal touch displays on the back of each seat, behemoth center consoles, and 30-way adjustable pillowtop seats ostensibly inspired by first-class air travel. In its trunk, the Navigator conceals an Instagrammer’s dream. A wealth of luxury goods including an umbrella, binoculars, and watches fill several flush, asymmetrical compartments. These accessories complete the image of Lincoln’s desired demographic: younger, more stylish, and more active than Lincoln drivers of the past few decades.

While those young drivers won’t be climbing up any ridiculous steps, they can expect many of the SUV’s features to stay. When the Lincoln Continental Concept recently moved to production, it lost some aesthetic touches (chrome trim and thick carpeting), but little else. Coincidentally, those two vehicles will share the same stunning one-piece mesh grille, as the Navigator has ditched the split-wing design. The chrome front is fittingly sharp for a vehicle that must cut through the stuffy preconceptions that have dogged Lincoln even through their reinvention.

Along those lines, the Navigator has often been touted as the full-sized luxury SUV that defined the category. But, if the Lincoln Navigator Concept is any indication, you’ll struggle to put the 2018 model in a box.