Lincoln to Kick Off Marketing Push for Navigator Next Month

Campaign Coincides With Update for Ford Unit's SUV

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Next month, Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln will kick off its first significant marketing campaign for the Lincoln Navigator since 2007, brand executives said at a press event in Lexington, Ky.

Lincoln began shipping the re-engineered 2015 Navigator to dealers earlier this month. It will begin ads after dealers are well-stocked with the new version in late October. Lincoln is handled by Hudson Rouge, a WPP agency dedicated solely to the brand.

With full-size SUVs selling briskly, Lincoln has updated the Navigator for the first time since the 2007 model year.

Changes include:

• Lincoln has replaced the 5.0-liter V-8 engine with its own version of Ford's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. For the Navigator, Lincoln calibrated the engine to burn premium fuel for power output of 380 hp and 460 pounds-feet of torque. EPA-rated fuel economy is 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.

• The Navigator is getting the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system for the first time. The Navigator comes with Lincoln Drive Control, a system that adjusts the ride to match road conditions via electronic sensors.

• The hood and split-wing grille have been restyled, and the Navigator gets a power liftgate.

Lincoln is offering the 2015 Navigator in two packages: basic Select and upscale Reserve. It also is offering two wheelbases: standard, at 119 inches, and extended, at 131.

Prices start at $62,475, including shipping, for the regular wheelbase Select model with rear-wheel drive and go up to $75,065, including shipping, for the long-wheelbase, Reserve edition with four-wheel drive.

Carey White, Navigator marketing manager, said about 60% of Navigator customers trade in their old Navigators for a new one. Lincoln hopes the new vehicle will nudge the conquest rate upward.

Lincoln sold 8,613 Navigators in the U.S. last year. Mr. White says the brand is aiming for sales of more than 10,000. The average age of Navigator buyers is about 61, said Mr. White, who said Lincoln is targeting younger buyers.

"Our target is 50-60 years old with household income over $200,000," he said.

Lincoln has not discussed longer-term plans for the Navigator, but some industry analysts predict a redesigned model will appear in 2016 with an aluminum body like Ford's 2015 F-150 pickup. The Navigator is built in Louisville at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant alongside the Ford Super Duty pickup.

-- Bradford Wernle is a reporter for Automotive News

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