Earlier this year The Lincoln Navigator got a little bit of an upgrade, dropping the tried-and-true 5.4 liter V8 for the 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6. The new Navigator also got a few exterior and interior enhancements as well, but by-and-large remained mostly unchanged, though a dramatic shift away from steel is already underway.
Much like the 2015 Ford F-150, the Lincoln Navigator will soon shed its steel body for a lighter aluminum one in a bid to shed weight and improve fuel economy, reports Automotive News. A new 10-speed automatic transmission and hybrid drivetrain may also be in works, though it’s far from confirmed yet.
The aluminum body however makes sense, given Ford’s recent foray into lightweight alloys. The Blue Oval has already made it clear that it plans to “aluminize” its entire lineup, with the best-selling F-150 leading the way. It seems Ford is going for a top-down approach to aluminum vehicles, beginning with the heaviest and working its way down through the ranks. After the 2015 F-150, the Lincoln Navigator is the heftiest vehicle, weighing between about 5,800 and 6,200 pounds. Not even the potent 3.5 liter EcoBoost engine could do much to improve the paltry fuel economy of the Navigator, which is about 14 city and 20 highway (16 combined).
Going to aluminum, however, could help the Navigator lose several hundred pounds of extra weight, boosting fuel economy up into the mid-20s on the highway. While that isn’t breaking any records, it does make the Navigator a lot more competitive, and true to Ford fashion, new engines tend to precede new body designs. The newer, lighter aluminum Lincoln Navigator could hit dealerships as soon as the second half of 2016, as a 2017 model.
Ford’s luxury division could certainly use the upgrade, as sales and interest in Lincoln are a shadow of what they used to be, and competitors like Cadillac and Lexus have managed to keep their SUVs relevant at a time when crossovers have become dominant.
Meanwhile, Lincoln is pumping a special scent into its dealerships and debuting concept cars like the MKX without a complete interior. There’s a growing gap between what Lincoln is doing, and what the rest of the luxury car world is doing.
Can a shift to aluminum save the Navigator?