As we reported, Ford’s Lincoln luxury brand will premiere an all-new Aviator crossover utility vehicle at the New York International Auto Show tomorrow, reviving a nameplate last seen in 2005, and continuing the trend of gradually undoing its “MK-” model nomenclature. The Lincoln Aviator is expected to be a full-size, three-row CUV based on the Ford Explorer, slotting in above the mid-size Nautilus (née MKX).
New York has been the venue of choice for a number of important Lincoln Motor Company reveals as the premium brand attempts to carve a greater niche for itself in the luxury automobile market. In 2015, Lincoln chose to debut its new Continental concept there, and returned the following year to show its ostentatious, gullwing-door Navigator concept. Last year, the New York International Auto Show was the location for a reveal of the all-new production Navigator, which went on sale last fall as a 2018 model-year vehicle.
The Lincoln Motor Company finds itself in a potentially pivotal moment, as questions start to arise concerning whether the brand’s attempted turnaround have been for nought. Sales were down 25 percent through the first two months of the year, and in February, the luxury brand moved just 6,700 vehicles – although many of them were loaded, high-priced Navigator SUVs.
SUVs and crossovers are becoming ever-more important across the industry, and Lincoln is not immune to that trend. According to sources, the Continental sedan is facing cancellation at the end of the current tenth generation’s life cycle, and sales of that model declined by 30 percent through the first two months of 2018. The smaller MKZ sedan is faring even worse, with sales down 39 percent over that period. The decline isn’t entirely the casualty of the surge in popularity of SUVs and crossovers – perhaps the average car shopper simply wants more than just the “Quiet Luxury” the brand is peddling – but nevertheless, it means that Lincoln must score highly in the segment.
So far, it seems as though the new Lincoln Navigator has checked all the right boxes; through February, Lincoln’s average transaction price has risen $4,600, largely on the back of the re-engineered full-size SUV. Lincoln says that more than 80 percent of all Navigators sold since its launch have been in either of the top two trim levels – the $81k Reserve, or the $94k Black Label. And so far this year, the Navigator has outsold the Continental by a comfortable margin, nearly matching the MKZ’s sales, despite the fact that production has, reportedly, been slower than it should be to match demand.
Now, the Lincoln Aviator set to premiere tomorrow will have the job of following in the Navigator’s large, luxurious footsteps, wooing customers away from other luxury brands and luring them into expensive, loaded models that will continue to lift the brand’s transaction prices. No pressure.