New York International Auto Show: Lincoln unveils a new Navigator

We’re not at the New York International Auto Show this week, but Lincoln is, and they’ve brought something big — a new Navigator.

The refreshed version of the luxury car company’s flagship is more like a battleship. Powered by a 3.5-liter twin turbo engine that makes an estimated 450 horsepower (up 70 horsepower from the current model) and 500 pound feet of torque, the 2018 Navigator is Lincoln’s attempt to merge size and sophistication into a single massive machine.

“It’s all about getting the quiet luxury experience into the large, premium utility vehicle,” said Andrew Kernahan, Lincoln’s chief engineer for the vehicle.

Talking points for Kernahan and other Lincoln executives include a new 10-speed transmission that interfaces with the driver through a series of “consumer-friendly drive modes,” which include terrain options “Deep Conditions,” “Slippery” and “Slow Climb” and “experiential” options “Normal,” “Conserve” and “Excite.”

The interior space is also meant to be extremely consumer-friendly. The front seats can be ordered with 30-way adjustability, including options for heating, cooling and massage.

The second and third row seats — the car comes in seven- or eight-passenger formats — are also adjustable, and the third-row seats can even be made to recline. There are USB ports for all passengers, and entertainment screens for second-row occupants.

A 4G modem will allow up to 10 devices to be plugged at the same time. The car is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and wireless charging is available for some phones. A full-size panoramic moon roof will shine some light on passengers while they share wi-fi.

A dual-wall dash, underbody shielding, active noise control and laminated glass help keep road and wind noise to a minimum.

Those who saw the new Navigator concept at last year’s Los Angeles auto show will be disappointed to see that Lincoln abandoned the idea of two massive gull-wing doors giving access to the second- and third-row seats.

Lincoln executives have reported January sales were the best in the last decade, and that the brand is increasingly drawing a younger and more female consumer.

But younger in Lincoln-language may not mean what it does to, say, Subaru.

Molly Cosgrove, Lincoln marketing manager for the Navigator, said the firm is consistently attracting buyers in the 45-to-60 age range.

“It’s exciting to see us attract younger consumers to the brand,” Cosgrove said.

Cosgrove said the Navigator currently holds about a 13% market share in the premium large luxury SUV category, where it competes with Cadillac’s Escalade, Infiniti’s QX80, the Lexus LX and the Toyota Land Cruiser.

The new Navigator, which will be in dealerships in late 2017, will be sold in four trim levels, including new “Premier” and “Black Label” price points, but hasn’t found a new MSRP yet, Lincoln folks said. The current vehicle starts at about $65,000.

The New York International Auto Show’s press days begin this week. The show is open to the public April 14-23 at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Convention Center.

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