New Navigator Hopes to Reinvent the Luxury SUV

What if your new SUV came with a driver? We’re not talking about that fancy self-driving technology that’s all the rage right now, but an honest-to-goodness driver who will take you wherever you want to go.

It’s an option for one vehicle, and one of the many reasons why buying an SUV isn’t as straightforward as it used to be.

Sport Utility Vehicles used to come standard with a basic interior, 4-wheel drive, and not much else. If a buyer wanted luxury, he or she would have to opt for a sedan.

Today, SUVs can be had in almost any size and offer a wide range of capability, luxury, and storage space.

Two new sport utes illustrate just how different even luxury SUVs can be.

The Lincoln Navigator has become mostly irrelevant in the world of large SUVs. In fact, you may read that sentence and think, “They still make the Navigator?”

Indeed they do, and the all-new 2018 version appears to cater to the lone purpose of extreme comfort.

CNN spoke with Lincoln designer David Woodhouse, who said in its article,

“The interior we want to be about a sanctuary,” he said. “We want to imbue a feeling of calmness and equilibrium.”

BMW and Cadillac can go ahead and be all about the excitement of driving. In a Lincoln, you’re just chill. That’s the goal, anyway.

“They get in, and they feel completely removed from competition,” Woodhouse said of Lincoln drivers, “from what’s going on in the world.”

Never mind the twin-turbo 450-hp V6 that’ll power the big beast or its Bentley-esque good looks. The new Navigator is more about serenity than anything else, though performance will be there when needed for easy acceleration.

Which brings us to the available driver.

Lincoln is testing a service in Miami and San Diego where Lincoln owners can request a driver at $30 per hour to come take them anywhere they please. Lincoln may be onto something here. I mean, why invest billions of dollars in self-driving cars when a human will do it for 30 bucks?

Who knows if the program will be successful, but it illustrates Lincoln’s intent to make the Navigator a passenger-focused oasis.

On the other end of the luxury SUV spectrum is the Mercedes-Benz GLB, a new midsize crossover SUV that will slot between the company’s entry-level GLA and the GLC. This won’t be just any luxury crossover, though. The GLB, if it comes to fruition as Car and Driver expects, may be a baby G-Class meant to be more of an off-roader than a well-mannered family touring vehicle.

We’ll share more information on the GLB as it becomes available, but we can say with relative certainty that it won’t come with a human driver.

Does the new Navigator have your attention? Would you hire a driver?

-tgriffith

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