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Big Changes For Lincoln’s Big SUV

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jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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  autos arrows plug v2 Big Changes For Lincolns Big SUV

DETROIT (WWJ) – Lincoln’s big Navigator SUV is getting a new look for 2015.

“It’s much more refined” said Lincoln chief designer Max Wolff. “It’s pulled much more into the Lincoln look.”

This is the first update for the Navigator in several years. When introduced in the late nineties, the vehicle essentially created the large luxury SUV craze. But, it was quickly eclipsed by the Cadillac Escalade. Then, when gas prices started to rise, the entire segment took a big fall.

The industry now sells about fifty thousand large luxury SUV’s a year, a rate that’s been fairly stable in recent years.

Vehicles like the Navigator bring in a healthy profit.

“Navigator’s always been a good contributor to the brand,” said Lincoln marketing manager Andrew Frick. “Last year our sales volume, we were up three percent. Seven percent over the last couple years. It has a very significant place in our SUV lineup.”

One of the most significant changes is the end of the V-8 engine. The 2015 Navigator will be powered by an EcoBoost V-6. Chief Engineer Elaine Bannon says it will put out at least 370 horsepower.

“What that’s doing is that’s giving a lot more power and performance.”
The Navigator also adds technology like blind spot warning, and a backup camera, as well as the My Lincoln Touch System. This variation includes traditional knobs, in place of the much criticized touch sliders.

The Navigator will be the second Lincoln vehicle to include the new “welcome mat” which projects the Lincoln logo on the ground in front of the driver and passenger doors.

“There’s nothing like having something like a red carpet with a Lincoln symbol on it,” said Bannon.

The most significant visual change is the front grille, which has the new Lincoln look and does away with what many had considered an over use of chrome.

“I still think it’s a fairly strong front end, but it’s one that has an element of refinement to it,” said Wolff.

The Navigator can seat up to eight people.

The vehicle is unique in the Lincoln brand as—like Cadillac’s Escalade—it’s the only vehicle with a name as opposed to a new letter designation.

The 2015 Navigator will make its public debut February 6th at the Chicago Auto Show. Reporters were given an early look at an invitation-only event at Detroit’s Max Fisher Music Theatre.

It remains an SUV with a very loyal following.

“Navigator has retained some of the most loyal following in the segment for more than a decade,” said Jim Farley, executive vice president, Ford global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln. “Among Lincoln owners, more than 70 percent have been return customers – purchasing the vehicle for its power, for its beauty and for its capability, and this new Navigator gives them more on all three fronts.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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