1998 Lincoln Navigator Page 1

Lincoln’s "Town Truck" celebrates its first birthday July 2. Parent company Ford Motor should throw a party. Invitations could go to the nearly 50,000 buyers that purchased the luxury carmaker’s premier entry into the sport-utility vehicle market.

Regrets could be sent to those still waiting. It’s been a sellout year!

Basing its first sport-ute on Ford’s popular Expedition model, Lincoln, too, has hit a home run with a luxury version of the big-league SUV that can practically ferry the little league team. But perhaps the biggest news on the block is what this eight-passenger behemoth has done for the languishing Lincoln brand.

Navigator lures younger buyers

"The Navigator has brought younger people into Lincoln showrooms like no other product," offered Bill Collins, of Ford Motor Co. "The median age of buyers before Navigator was 63. Now it’s in the upper 40s, and the Navigator is bringing in BMW and Lexus owners to park it in their garages next to their cars. And we’re finding that customer satisfaction is very high."

Between 1990 and 1996, the total SUV market grew from 935,000 units to more than 2 million units, with increasing popularity in the full-size market. Over the past year, with sales figures continuing to expand, the Navigator/Expedition duo have managed to corner nearly 23 percent of the luxury sport-ute market, with sales of some 536,000 units combined.

While Lincoln is still new at marketing trucks, its heritage is seasoned. Parent company Ford is a long-standing world leader in light truck sales, and sister division Mercury has been a successful forerunner over the past two years with the Mountaineer, a luxury version of the compact Explorer.

Unchanged for 1999, the Navigator is distinguished from the Expedition on the outside by its different grille with the Lincoln logo mounted in the middle, which is integrated with a uniquely styled hood. Stand-alone styling also includes the clear lens complex reflector headlamps and fog lamps, as well as the wraparound front and rear bumper fascias and illuminated running boards.