The New Lincoln Navigator Should Retain the Gullwing Doors and Retractable Steps

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The Lincoln Navigator concept was revealed twice last week; once to a private embargoed event on Monday, and then on Wednesday to the crowd at the New York International Auto Show. During the private reveal, there was an audible gasp from the attendees when they saw that the Navigator concept had gullwing doors. But the sad truth is that those doors won’t see production. But, they should.

There’s a number of reasons why the doors wouldn’t work. First off, the removal of the B-pillar to accommodate the extremely large doors might hurt the overall structural integrity of the Navigator. Families will be in these things, and they need to be able to hold up properly in a crash.

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Another reason why the doors won’t work is that they won’t fit into a garage. Unlike the doors of the Tesla Model X, the Navigator concept’s simply don’t hinge in the middle. That means they retain the same shape throughout the opening and closing process. In low clearance situations, the doors might not be able to open far enough for the passengers to make it out. Obviously, that’s going to be a bit of a problem.

The retractable steps are much easier to create; we already have retractable running boards now on modern Ford products. That’d be fairly easy to implement, but the design would only really look as good as it does would be with the steps existing in addition to the gullwing doors.

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So why should Lincoln do the doors? It’s simple, they need people talking about the brand. Sales are growing at the brand, but they currently don’t have a true flagship product. You could argue that the Continental is that flagship, but the production version of that car differs enough from the concept that it’d be a stretch to make that claim, at least in my opinion.

Matthew¬†McConaughey’s ads have really made an impact. That has helped a lot of with the brand’s exposure. But the thing the Continental concept and the Navigator concept have shown us is that Lincoln designers can make stunning concepts. Whether you find them attractive or not, you can’t say they aren’t striking.

Now that striking design needs to be carried over to the production version. When people see the Cadillac Escalade, especially at night, they comment on the LED taillights. They kind of look like lightsabers to me, but they are huge and imposing. It’s not a typical design you see on a typical production car, but on an Escalade it makes sense and gets you noticed. The same applies for the headlights and front end design.

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The Navigator has a chance to be epic, competing right up there with the Escalade and with the best the Europeans have to offer. The quiet luxury approach is a good one, since everyone is in the sports vehicle business. There is serious opportunity for Lincoln.

Until we see the final production version of the Navigator I’ll reserve final judgement, but I really do think Lincoln should stick with a variation of the doors. Not because they make sense, but because they can.

What do you think? Let us know over in the forums!

Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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