Luxury SUVs such as the Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade are enormously profitable, and since both three-row luxury SUVs have been redesigned for the 2015 model year, we're taking another look at these image-setting kings of the road. Just how different are the two SUVs, really?
Revisit the basic specs on the new 2015 Cadillac Escalade and 2015 Lincoln Navigator, take a good look at photography you'll find only at Motor Trend, then tell us in the poll below: Would you rather have the new Navigator or Escalade?
2015 Lincoln Navigator
While Cadillac currently owns the luxury SUV segment, it owes Lincoln a big thank-you for reviving the category back in 1997 with the Navigator. With Lincoln holding a fraction of the entire market compared with GM, it was clearly harder for FoMoCo to justify the large investment in making bigger changes for the updated 2015 Navigator.
The big news is an updated drivetrain that ditches the big, thirsty V-8 for Ford's much-celebrated EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6. In LincoBoost form, the 3.5-liter delivers 370 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque, falling short of Cadillac's V-8. The overall numbers won't be nearly as important, though, as the fact that the torque will be available at a much lower rpm and continue over a wider band. Lincoln is so sure of its new engine that it says it will trump the Cadillac's 8000-pound tow rating with a best-in-class 9000 pounds max, with the proper rearend gear and rear drive.
The Lincoln lords its independent rear suspension over the Cadillac, but its CCD dampers don't measured up to Caddy's magnetic units. The advantage is that the lower floor allows more third-row legroom. The extra space may distract Lincoln buyers from the technological disadvantage of Lincoln's old electronic architecture, which is unable to support modern features such as active cruise control or lane-keeping assist. Neither of the new large SUVs will offer around-view camera systems, which should be mandatory on vehicles of this size.
For 2015, Lincoln will offer a Reserve Package to go head to head with Caddy's top-level Platinum trim. New Trevino leather will cover the doors, seats, and dash, while Ziricote wood will be planked over hard surfaces. The Reserve package will also include polished 20-inch wheels, light-projected "welcome mats," and motorized chrome runningboards.
Navigator buyers will have the option of two wheelbases, either 119 or 131 inches. While the Navigator L has a wheelbase 1 inch longer than the Escalade ESV's, its overall length is an inch shorter. The Navigator L bests the Escalade ESV in storage space as well, with 8-10 more cubic feet with the second and third rows folded and 4 more cubic feet with the those rows in place.
While the comparisons and cross-shopping between the Navigator and the Escalade seem natural, Lincoln insists it has 75 percent owner loyalty with the luxo-trucks. Lincoln says the new Navigator will start rolling into show rooms in late 2014.
2015 Cadillac Escalade
As with its latest round of 1/2-ton trucks, the General has taken a more conservative step in refinement than an innovative leap with the king of the large luxury SUV segment. "Luxury" is relative in this instance: The 2015 Escalade still holds on to its succesful trucklike nature.
Now in its fourth generation, the non-eco-chic-celeb favorite still uses body-on-frame construction, and the only engine choice is a 6.2-liter V-8 coupled to a six-speed automatic. Cylinder deactivation gives the short-wheelbase 2WD model an EPA-rated 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway. Opting for the long wheelbase with AWD drops only a single mpg off each number. While those ratings might sound low, they're right in line with all but the Escalade's diesel-powered competitors.
The independent front and solid-axle rear suspension will use the latest generation of GM's magnetic damping technology. We recently tried the system on a Yukon Denali XL, and it's a definite improvement over its predecessor. We hope that Caddy's version will take it another step up in refinement to make it competitive with the rest of the luxury market.
The body-on-frame construction and rear live axle still dominate the floor space in the third row of the standard-wheelbase model, meaning the final row of seating basically sits on the deck. If you want to comfortably carry adults in the rear of your Escalade, the long-wheelbase ESV model is mandatory. At 130 inches -- compared with 116 inches for the standard wheelbase -- it's roughly 9 inches longer than a Mercedes-Benz GL, making this about as close to a limousine as you can buy off a showroom floor. Electronics will abound and include active cruise control, lane monitoring, and a new 4G hotspot.
The interior is much more upscale than in previous Escalades. Cadillac's new mantra for interior quality is "cut and sew," emphasizing the handmade look of its new high-end vehicle interiors. If you've sat inside the new ELR, you know that Caddy is now fully capable of producing something on par with the rest of the segment.
Which redesigned three-row luxury SUV would you rather have: the 2015 Lincoln Navigator or 2015 Cadillac Escalade?
| || 2015 Lincoln Navigator || 2015 Cadillac Escalade |
| Base Price || $58,000-$60,000 (est) || $72,690-$75,690 |
| Vehicle Layout || Front-engine, RWD/AWD, 7/8-pass, 4-door SUV || Front-engine, RWD/AWD, 7/8-pass, 4-door SUV |
| Engine || 3.5L/370-hp/430-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 || 6.2L/420-hp/460-lb-ft* OHV 16-valve V-8 |
| Transmission || 6-speed automatic || 6-speed automatic |
| Curb Weight || 5800-6100 lb* || 5600-6100 lb* |
| Wheelbase || 119.0-131.0 in || 116.0-130.0 in |
| Length x Width x Height || 208.4-223.3 x 78.8 x 78.1-78.3 in || 203.9-224.3 x 80.5 x 74.0-74.4 in |
| Cargo Vol Beh F/M/R || 103.3-128.2/54.4-86.3/18.1-42.6 cu ft || 94.2-120.5/51.6-76.5/15.3-38.7 cu ft |
| Towing Capacity || 8500-9000 lb || 7700-8200 lb |
| 0-60 mph || 6.5-6.7 sec* || 6.3 sec* |
| EPA City/Hwy Fuel Econ || 15-16/21-22/17-18 mpg* || 14-15/20-21/16-17 mpg |
| Energy Cons, City/Hwy || 211-225/153-160 kW-hr/100 mi* || 225-241/160-169 kW-hr/100 mi* |
| CO2 Emissions, Comb || 1.06-1.13 lb/mi || 1.13-1.20 lb/mi |
| On Sale in U.S. || Fall 2014 || Fall 2014 |
| * MT Estimated |