Navi vs. Escalade: Which Lux SUV Reigns Supreme 2 Decades Later?

The Lincoln Navigator is the Luxury SUV that started it all. From Cash Money Millionaires music videos to pop culture and beyond, the Navigator, and its nemesis, the Escalade, were hallmark symbols of American luxury and status when they debuted in the late nineties. General Motors released the Escalade, a gussied up Tahoe/Suburban, in response to the Navigator, and the two SUVs have been duking it out for top Luxury SUV dog ever since.

In an era where lots of cars easily top the six-figure price-point, which full-sized American SUV is deserving of your hard-earned dollars? The original Lincoln Navigator, or the contender, the Cadillac Escalade. We investigate just what you get for your money.


The Navigator is no longer powered by a hulking V8, but its twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 packs a serious whallop with 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. Cadillac holds true to American luxury, with a 420-hp American small-block V8, with 460-lb-ft of torque. Both SUVs use a 10-speed automatic transmission, to try and maximize fuel economy for these heavy and thirsty vehicles. Fuel economy is relatively mediocre for both, with each getting about 20MPG on the highway, with a slight nod going to the Navigator, but it is much better than twenty years ago.


An area of subjective evaluation for most buyers is the exterior appearance. Both vehicles appear immaculate at night, with LED headlamps that glow with a cool blue into the night. With its recent redesign, the Escalade might appear a little more modern than the Navigator, as well as a little more svelte, while the Navigator appears to be a tad bulkier. From the rear, the Escalade pays homage to mid-1990s Volvo 850 station wagons, with taillights that run the length of the rear of the vehicle, though these Escalade taillights are LED and thus light up very brightly accordingly. The rear of the Navigator is, again, a bit chunkier. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and whichever SUV you prefer is up to you. We think an Escalade looks more at home in front of the Ritz Carlton in the city, and the Navigator looks more at home in front of a mid-century modern ranch-style house with a luscious green lawn and a view of the Ocean.

Cadillac Escalade


If there’s one thing that has stepped up an immense game in the last two decades, it is the interior of these two vehicles. Long gone are fat and chunky steering wheels, clunky parts-bin rubber bits from Tauruses and Tahoes, and cheap looking wood dashboards. Both the Navigator and the Escalade interiors are dazzling. The Escalade’s signature curved OLED interior screen has 38 inches of display, with 4k resolution for navigation, settings and more. Cadillac’s Super Cruise is a hands-free cruise control mode to rival autonomous driving systems like those available from Tesla. It has gorgeous Mulan leather seats which are heated and ventilated, and natural wood accents throughout. In contrast, the Navigator has best-in-class second-row leg room and a power folding third row seat, so you’ll have plenty of room for everyone. For all your electronic devices there is wireless Xi charging and six USB charging ports. The leather seats include 11 independent air cushions, and are heated and cooled like the Escalade’s. The transmission selection is controlled by a unique push button shifter on the dashboard, so say goodbye to the ugly tree-shiftersof Navigator yesteryear.

Lincoln Navigator

Which Should You Get?

Both vehicles gives tons of luxury for your buck. Each run from about $77,000 to upwards of $100,000, and each offer different trim levels, such as the larger Escalade ESV, or the more expensive Navigator Black Label. Which one you want ultimately boils down to taste. The Escalade has more technololgy in terms of gizmos and features, but at the same time, preserves tradition with its American V8. The Navigator has the boosted six cylinder motor, but has a more traditional look, and slightly more interior space. Make sure you set aside enough time at the dealerships to compare before you pull the trigger.