This soup-to-nuts rethink of the Lincoln Navigator is Ford’s bravest attempt yet to make its ultra-luxury SUV more than a niche market

by Evan Monroe

When the concept version of the 2018 Lincoln Navigator debuted at last March’s New York International Auto Show, Lincoln design chief David Woodhouse’s nautically-themed ultra-luxe six seater
drew gasps as visitors climbed its deployable teak steps and through gull wing doors into a calming blue interior complete with ocean-wave-like instrument panel. There was a sense that we were seeing a truly reinvented SUV. When the actual 2018 hits the market in the fall, a remarkable number of Woodhouse’s innovations will remain, but the winged doors had to go (dammit!).

Ford has dropped $1.3 billion on a new Kentucky Truck Plant body shopfor all its trucks and SUVs, and a further $600 million in facilities for the new Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, so there’s much on the line here, particularly for the latter model, which sold just 10,421 units in 2016 (a 10% drop from the year before, and miles from its 1998 high point of 43,859).

The show starts before drivers even step in. Upon approach, a chrome Lincoln star grille logo softly illuminates, then LED lighting in the lower front body and taillamps subtly engages, and a welcome mat appears beneath the door.

“We put an emphasis on these ultra-luxury touch points,” said Woodhouse. “Took everything the client would see and touch, and made sure they would look and feel a little more exuberant, a little more indulgent.”

A twin-turbo V6 engine produces 450 horsepower, delivered through a 10-speed transmission, and it helps that the Navigator’s lighter, higher-strength aluminum-alloy body removes nearly 200 pounds from last year’s heft. Zero to 60 times have yet to be released, but we anticipate something like 6.5 seconds. Amenities include a 12-inch instrument cluster screen with heads-up display, dial-adjusted road or weather ride response, a novel system that steers the vehicle to turn any trailer the desired amount, a 360-degree camera-enhanced park assist, and adaptive cruise control. Expect prices to start at $74,000.

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