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.
1998 Lincoln Navigator
Town Car style - truck attitude
This premium sport-ute’s interior takes its cues from Lincoln’s flagship - the Town Car. Finery includes plush premium leather seats and burled walnut trim on the soft-feel instrument panel, floor console and door panels. Drivers will find a wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel with speed control and, for passenger comfort, duplicate audio and climate controls.
Segment-leading with its quad captain’s chair bucket seating, the full-size Navigator comes with a standard rear bench seat. Stowage possibilities abound with a full glove box and two large center consoles with dual cup holders and deep storage compartments designed to accommodate a laptop computer. There is up to 116 cubic feet of cargo space. Standard are intermittent windshield wipers, power windows, automatic headlamps, driver and front passenger power seating, a three-position memory driver’s seat and an accessory delay system.
Upscale options are an auxiliary climate control system, power moonroof with one-touch open feature, universal garage door opener, electro-chromic rearview mirror, seven-speaker 290 Watt Premium sound system with a front floor console-mounted six-disc CD changer and an 8-inch subwoofer with an auto reverse cassette. There are rear seat audio controls with headphone jacks. Noticeable in its ride and drive is the premium sound deadening package that gives exceptional noise, vibration, harshness (NVH) and suspension tuning that is slightly softer, different from its sibling.
Navigator gets gadgets galore
The Navigator meets all 1999 federal government standards for truck safety and comes with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, dual airbags, Securilock anti-theft system and adjustable head restraints in all four bucket seats or second row bench seats outboard positions. There are three-point safety belts in outboard positions with height adjustable safety belts on first and second row seats along with rear door child safety locks. Steering is variable-assist, speed-sensitive.
The Navigator’s power comes from a 5.4-liter 230-horsepower V-8 engine that produces 325 pound-feet of torque, which is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. A Class III trailer tow package allows towing of 8000 pounds with maximum payload of 1800.
Available in two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, the Navigator benefits from Ford’s four separate traction options: two-wheel drive, Control Trac with all-wheel drive and four "HI" and four "LO" settings. There is load leveling air suspension at all four corners for the four-wheel drive and rear air only for the two-wheel drive. Benefits are a uniform ride height for a smoother ride on-road, easier entry and exit (assisted by a lowering of the vehicle’s step-in height by 1 inch at stop) and a 1-inch-taller-than-standard ride height for off-road capability.
Larger than the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon but slightly smaller than the GM Suburban, the Navigator competes with the Lexus LX 450 and Land Rover’s Range Rover models in the high-end luxury SUV market. It comes with 24-hour roadside assistance and a four-year/50,000 mile warranty.