2021 Cadillac Escalade vs. 2021 Lincoln Navigator: Towering Titans

It looks as if everybody’s doing a full-size luxury SUV as of late, however for the final two-plus a long time two marques have been doing them the most effective—Cadillac and Lincoln. Even once they discovered themselves on the again foot, the big, brawny Escalade and Navigator had been at all times the autos they stayed on prime of, regardless of formidable and at occasions superior international competitors. However now they’re again with a vengeance, and it’s time to find out whether or not the 2021 Cadillac Escalade or the 2021 Lincoln Navigator is main the cost.

Though the Escalade has nearly at all times overshadowed the Navigator, it was Lincoln that struck first this time round. The 2018 Navigator reset the bar for full-size luxury SUVs with its poise, efficiency, and inside that despatched everybody else again to the drafting board. Three years later (and with the advantage of with the ability to look at Lincoln’s work in that point), Cadillac has lastly answered with the most effective Escalade it’s ever constructed. The rivalry’s nearer than it’s ever been.

A notice earlier than we get began: Resulting from scheduling points, the one new Escalade we had been capable of procure for this take a look at was an extended-wheelbase ESV model, which prices a further $3,000. We’ll take this into consideration when evaluating the pricing, cargo area, and dealing with of every car, and when essential we’ll draw from our previous First Test experience with the standard-length 2021 Escalade for extra perception.

Inside: New College vs. Previous College

Greater than something, the inside defines a luxurious car. It’s what you contact and spend most of your time taking a look at and the place you’re coddled and entertained. Lengthy a weak level for each, Cadillac and Lincoln have lastly put within the time, effort, and cash to provide these full-size SUVs world-class interiors. They’ve simply gone about it in very other ways.

Lincoln appeared to the previous for inspiration; to its heyday within the 1950s and ’60s, to traditional American luxurious and the times when mid-century fashionable was simply fashionable. The Navigator’s inside appears to be like like nothing else in the marketplace, elegantly intertwining fashionable comfort and know-how with a mid-century aesthetic. Most significantly, it shares almost nothing with its Ford Expedition sibling, and the bits which are shared have at the very least been dressed up. The Navigator’s top-shelf Black Label inside is nothing in need of a press release piece.

Critically, Lincoln hasn’t ignored something. Regardless of the dominance of the shape, there’s nonetheless loads of perform, with ample space for storing for all the pieces we carry with us as of late. The Eames-looking entrance seats aren’t only for appears to be like, they alter in each manner possible so everybody can dial of their exact private consolation (additionally they have massaging options). The second- and third-row seats fold flat however nonetheless provide extra padding than the Escalade’s (with the identical quantity of area, it ought to be mentioned). Refreshingly, Lincoln didn’t skimp on rear-seat luxurious, both. The design, trim, and high quality of supplies prolong all over to the third row.

There are misses, although. Shortly after this take a look at, Cadillac lastly began providing Super Cruise for the Escalade. Lincoln’s counterpart, Co-Pilot360, merely isn’t as superior as Cadillac’s driver-assist tech. The Navigator’s infotainment setup isn’t a match for the Cadillac’s and stays largely a reskin of Ford’s system. The buttons and dials on the Navigator’s sprint don’t have the identical weight as these on the Escalade (to not point out the much more spectacular weight of the European and Japanese competitors). Disappointingly, we additionally heard a relentless squeak coming from the middle console lid whereas driving our take a look at car, one thing we haven’t seen in different Navigators. We had been additionally let down by the marginally greater wind and highway noise within the “quiet luxurious” Lincoln.

As a lot as Lincoln appeared again, Cadillac appeared ahead. The Escalade leans into the long run and does it with class-leading know-how and world-class supplies. Headlining is the aforementioned Tremendous Cruise, Cadillac’s certain-highways-only hands-free driving help that’s almost pretty much as good as Tesla’s Autopilot. The Escalade’s massive, 38-inch-combined infotainment screen and instrument cluster is a game-stopper, that includes touchscreens on each side of the gauges, the power to place the map squarely in entrance of the driving force, augmented reality-enhanced navigation, evening imaginative and prescient, and extra. Nobody is loading up extra cutting-edge tech right into a luxurious SUV than Cadillac.

What’s extra, Cadillac is lastly cocooning these options in a world-class inside. The standard of supplies and workmanship of the 2021 Escalade is head and shoulders above something Cadillac’s executed in a long time. The design is forward-looking and the luxurious touches prolong past the primary row, as they need to.

They do have an finish level, although, and that’s the place the Escalade begins to run into bother. The motive force’s seat is the most effective in the home, however the consistency in supplies and trim as you progress towards the rear isn’t as robust as within the Navigator. (In the event you’re going to be chauffeured in both, the Lincoln is the way in which to go.) Again up entrance, the Cadillac’s seats don’t transfer in almost as some ways and have the appear and feel of what you’d discover in a top-model GMC or Chevrolet, solely with nicer leather-based. A number of the switchgear carries over undisguised from its Chevrolet kin, and there isn’t anyplace close to as a lot space for storing as within the Lincoln. At one level, the huge infotainment display screen went darkish on us and needed to be utterly rebooted by shutting down, leaving, and locking the automobile for 10 minutes. Additionally mildly annoying is that the stereo cuts out for a split-second when the automated engine cease/begin system restarts, an issue Lincoln and others solved way back.

The largest problem, although, is that this Escalade didn’t have the world-beating inside. Regardless of costing greater than the Lincoln as examined (even after subtracting the ESV mannequin premium), this Cadillac didn’t include the flamboyant wooden marquetry or the fabric-wrapped panels we’ve seen on more expensive Escalade models. This inside is strong, nevertheless it’s not the match of the Lincoln’s and it’s not what Cadillac has confirmed able to. The usual-wheelbase Escalade we examined with the extra formidable inside value $11,715 greater than this Navigator.



There may be one place the 2 interiors draw even, nevertheless: the over-the-top audio programs by Revel (Lincoln) and AKG (Cadillac). A recording engineer may most likely inform you which is healthier, however everybody else will say each are equally phenomenal.

The Drive: Energy vs. Precision

Settle behind the wheel of both the 2021 Escalade or Navigator, and, as is the case with the inside, you’ll discover two totally different approaches to the driving expertise.

Cadillac has been constructing world-class chassis and suspension programs for almost twenty years, however the Escalade at all times bought the quick finish of the shock—till now. Due to its extremely succesful impartial rear suspension, the Escalade is the most effective driving body-on-frame SUV on the market and higher than a number of unibody fashions, too. It’s laborious to imagine a car this huge and heavy can shrink round you whenever you drive it, however the Cadillac does. The steering is simply fast sufficient, and the physique roll is fantastically managed as you go round a nook. If yow will discover the drive mode button (it’s by your left knee), the Escalade is a peach to hustle. (Not that anybody in addition to testers like us ever will.) And whereas the Lincoln posted higher restrict dealing with numbers in our instrumented testing, its success is generally as a consequence of a stability management system that’s barely much less restrictive than the Cadillac’s, not as a result of the Lincoln objectively handles any higher in real-world driving.

The remainder of the Escalade expertise wants a bit extra work, although. GM’s magical magnetic dampers ship wonderful physique management however not the isolation and luxury we count on from them—or from any luxurious SUV, for that matter. Large hits are rightly dealt with, however all of the small highway chatter works its manner up by the seats and steering wheel. Nonetheless, there’s no denying Cadillac has executed higher than Lincoln on this regard. The Navigator’s adaptive dampers are good, however they will’t match these of the Escalade. Extra rumble will get by, and greater bumps aren’t dealt with fairly as effectively.

The place Lincoln does do higher is in the stopping and going departments. Though the Navigator’s pedal has a bit an excessive amount of journey earlier than the brakes interact, it may be exactly adjusted for mild limo stops. The Cadillac’s is a tad wooden-feeling and takes somewhat leg muscle to generate actual stopping energy—then you definately get it . It’s value noting, although, that whereas we barely favor the general response of the Lincoln’s brakes, each the usual and ESV Escalades stopped shorter from 60 mph in our instrumented testing.

As for the going, Lincoln’s bought that lined. The F-150 Raptor-derived twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 underneath the hood of the 2021 Navigator lights up proper off idle and pulls laborious for so long as you’re more likely to maintain your foot in it. It does so quietly and easily, by no means providing you with a motive to overlook the Navigator’s previous V-8. Though the Cadillac is true on the Lincoln’s tail all the way in which up the interstate on-ramp, there’s no getting across the reality the brand new Escalade is slower than the previous one no matter mannequin. It’s additionally slower than the marginally heavier Lincoln. Though the massive V-Eight has all of the torque, it feels overburdened at occasions, particularly on the prime finish. Critically, whenever you hit the gasoline to make a go on the freeway, the Lincoln leaps whereas the Cadillac lumbers. The Escalade additionally tends to sound extra like a Chevy truck than a luxurious SUV.

Numerical Issues

As carefully matched as the 2 are in instrumented take a look at outcomes, the numbers which are normally way more vital to the typical purchaser expose a large gulf. Let’s begin with the massive one: value. The 2021 Navigator begins a number of thousand lower than the 2021 Escalade, and extra importantly, it tops out even cheaper. As examined, the Lincoln in its top-tier Black Label trim got here in at just below $100,000. That’s roughly $3,000 lower than the Cadillac, even after eradicating the ESV upcharge. When in comparison with a completely loaded Escalade, it’s greater than $11,000 much less.

Then there’s the matter of gasoline financial system. Not a excessive precedence for somebody shopping for a six-figure luxurious SUV, however then once more, the wealthy didn’t get wealthy by overspending. The Cadillac’s 14/19/16 mpg metropolis/freeway/mixed EPA rankings usually are not solely a step backward from the final Escalade, however effectively behind the Navigator’s 16/21/18 mpg. The EPA estimates that’ll value you an additional $850 per 12 months on the pump.

The Choice: Retro Elegant or Future Cool?

As we’ve seen, the brand new Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator are extra carefully matched than ever and commerce wins and losses up and down the scoresheet. Each are the most effective variations of themselves ever made and are authentic class leaders. Curiously, they go about it in utterly totally different and equally profitable methods. Declaring a winner, then, was no straightforward job.

To take action, we turned to one among our key MotorTrend Of The Yr award standards: Efficiency of Meant Perform. (Relatedly, each the Escalade and the Navigator had been SUV of the Yr finalists once they made their debuts.) We requested ourselves what issues most to the individual shopping for a full-size, three-row, six-figure luxurious SUV. Whereas some prospects will probably be seduced by the Escalade’s cutting-edge know-how and fewer nonetheless will respect its dealing with benefit, the Cadillac got here up barely quick within the luxurious division. Lincoln’s dedication to design and luxury, and to making use of it constantly to all three rows of passengers, rated greater in our e-book. Doing so whereas being significantly inexpensive to buy and function, the Navigator not solely does luxurious the most effective, it makes the higher case for itself. Hail to the king.

POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS 2021 Cadillac Escalade ESV 4WD 2020 Lincoln Navigator Black Label 4×4
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Entrance-engine, AWD Entrance-engine, 4WD
ENGINE TYPE 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads Twin-turbo 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads
VALVETRAIN OHV, 2 valves/cyl DOHC, Four valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 376.Zero cu in/6,162 cc 212.9 cu in/3,489 cc
POWER (SAE NET) 420 hp @ 5,600 rpm 450 hp @ 5,500 rpm*
TORQUE (SAE NET) 460 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm 510 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm*
REDLINE 6,500 rpm 6,000 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 14.7 lb/hp 13.5 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 10-speed automated 10-speed automated
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE/LOW RATIO 3.23:half.05:1/ — 3.73:half.39:half.64:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Management arms, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar Management arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 16.6:1 20.5:1
BRAKES, F; R 13.5-in vented disc; 13.6-in vented disc, ABS 13.8-in vented disc; 13.8-in vented disc, ABS
WHEELS, F;R 9.Zero x 22-in forged aluminum 9.Zero x 22-in forged aluminum
TIRES, F;R 275/50R22 111H Bridgestone Alenza A/S 02 (M+S) 285/45R22 114H Hankook DynaPro HT (M+S)
WHEELBASE 134.1 in 122.5 in
TRACK, F/R 68.5/68.Three in 67.6/67.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 226.9 x 81.1 x 76.Four in 210.Zero x 78.Eight x 76.Three in
GROUND CLEARANCE 8.0-10.Zero in 9.6 in
APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 22.0-25.0/20.5-22.5 deg 22.2/21.9 deg
TURNING CIRCLE, CURB-TO-CURB 43.Three ft 40.Eight ft
CURB WEIGHT 6,173 lb 6,073 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R 51/49% 50/50%
TOWING CAPACITY 7,900 lb 8,300 lb
HEADROOM, F/M/R 42.3/38.9/38.2 in 41.8/40.0/37.Three in
LEGROOM, F/M/R 44.5/41.7/36.6 in 43.9/41.1/42.Three in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/M/R 65.5/64.6/62.Eight in 65.2/65.1/64.2 in
CARGO VOLUME, BEH F/M/R 126.6/81.5/42.9 cu ft 103.3/57.5/19.Three cu ft
0-30 2.1 sec 2.Zero sec
0-40 3.3 3.1
0-50 4.6 4.4
0-60 6.2 5.9
0-70 8.1 7.8
0-80 10.5 10.0
0-90 13.1 12.8
0-100 16.3  —
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.2 3.1
QUARTER MILE 14.7 sec @ 95.2 mph 14.5 sec @ 95.Eight mph
BRAKING, 60-Zero MPH 117 ft 125 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.67 g (avg) 0.77 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.Zero sec @ 0.56 g (avg) 27.Eight sec @ 0.62 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,250 rpm 1,600 rpm
BASE PRICE $83,490 $98,430
PRICE AS TESTED $104,810 $98,850
AIRBAGS 7: Twin entrance, entrance facet, f/r curtain, entrance middle 8: Twin entrance, entrance facet, f/r curtain, rear outboard belts
BASIC WARRANTY Four yrs/50,000 miles Four yrs/50,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 6 yrs/70,000 miles 6 yrs/70,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 6 yrs/70,000 miles Limitless
FUEL CAPACITY 24.Zero gal 23.Zero gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 14/19/16 mpg 16/21/18 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 241/177 kWh/100 miles 211/160 kWh/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.22 lb/mile 1.08 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium Unleaded common
*Horsepower and torque values utilizing 93-octane gasoline

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