New York Auto Show: Lincoln Navigator Concept Debuts

Lincoln Navigator SKV - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of Lincoln Motors

Lincoln Navigator SKV - Publicity - H 2016

The SUV takes design cues from last year's well-received reboot of the classic Lincoln Continental.

Continuing its reincarnation from maker of land yachts to pop cultural relevance (thanks to pitchman Matthew McConaughey), Lincoln Motors debuted a stunning reboot of its warhorse Navigator SUV ahead of the New York International Auto Show. 

The concept, introduced at the show by Lincoln Motors president Kumar Galhotra, represents a complete rethinking of Lincoln's former cash cow and and is meant to bring it within hailing distance of Cadillac's competing (and unstoppable) Escalade SUV, which has kept the lights on at Caddy for years. 

If the revamped Navigator makes it to market with its Continental-derived fascia, retractable "cascade" stairs and other improvements intact — the gullwing doors, reminiscent of those on Tesla's recently introduced Model X SUV, are for the show car only — Lincoln's brute of a ute could hold its own with class-leading SUVs from Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes, BMW and Porsche, which have recorded explosive sales for their SUVs and crossovers in recent years. 

Sales of Lincoln's MKC compact SUV, which bowed in 2014 and was promoted with a much-parodied ad campaign starring McConaughey, nearly doubled last year to 24,900, outstripping sales of the current Navigator by two to one. 

SUVs are seen as crucial profit centers as the luxury car segment grows increasingly competitive. Rolls-Royce and Bentley are fielding SUVs, and on Wednesday, in a once-unthinkable development, Maserati unveiled the Levante SUV at the auto show. 

The new Navigator hews to Lincoln's "quiet elegance" design brief, which favors lavish interior appointments over performance and aggressive styling — among them a full-size wardrobe and first-class airline-style seating. 

The New York Auto Show runs March 25 to April 3.