~ A DriveWays Review ~
by Frank A. Aukofer

When you’re talking large and luxurious new bruiser cruisers, two names come immediately to mind: the 2023 Cadillac Escalade from General Motors and the 2022 Lincoln Navigator from Ford.

Stellantis, the third leg of the Big Three manufacturers in the United States, has counter-punched with its all-new 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, which is just as big, nearly as luxurious and, depending on the driver, more capable over trackless terrain—though no vehicle this massive skips over the rocks and ruts as well as an old two-door Jeep CJ or Wrangler.

All three, however, are completely comfortable in their fundamental roles as the preferred limousines of the modern era, with comfort and commanding up-high views that mandate automatic running boards. The U.S. Secret Service drives Chevrolet Suburban SUVs, which provide the basic underpinnings of the Escalade with less pomp. Some celebrities and prominent politicians also seem to prefer the giant machines over traditional stretched sedans.

The DriveWays review column scrutinized the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer after its resurrection almost a year ago. It concluded that the pioneering and storied sport utility vehicle with luxury trappings and off-road credentials was both beautiful and too big for off-roading.

For this analysis, the 2022 Lincoln Navigator and 2023 Cadillac Escalade were driven consecutively over two weeks, and the conclusions were similar. With seven-passenger seating in three rows of seats, and high quality materials and workmanship, they deliver lavish, roomy and silent running over long distances on paved highways. However, their size and prices make them questionable for boondocks bashing, though they were equipped with all-wheel drive and other off-road enhancements.

The Lincoln Navigator Reserve trim level, or model, arrived with a price tag of $91,440, including the destination charge. With options that included electronic traction assist, second-row captain’s chairs with a massage function and a rear seat entertainment system, the bottom-line sticker came to $102,715.

The Cadillac Escalade 4WD Premium Luxury model started at $91,390. Options included magnetic ride control, electronic limited slip differential, trailer brake controller and a rear-seat entertainment system, bringing the suggested price to $107,210.

That sort of money requires competent power trains, and both vehicles have them. The Navigator’s engine is a 3.5-liter V6 with twin turbochargers that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque, or twisting force. With its  shift-able 10-speed automatic transmission, it’s enough to send this 5,855-pound behemoth to 60 miles an hour in less than six seconds.

The Escalade’s engine should be enough to delight aficionados of good old Detroit iron. It’s a honking 6.2 liter V8 that delivers 420 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. At 5,356 pounds with a 10-speed automatic transmission, it also makes the run to 60 in the five-second range.

        

Despite its lighter weight, the Escalade—at 17 feet 10 inches—is slightly longer than the Navigator’s 17 feet 6 inches. It also is roomier with 206 cubic feet of interior volume—the total passenger space of 180 cubic feet plus 26 cubic feet for cargo behind the third row seat. The Navigator has 172 cubic feet for passengers and 19 for cargo behind the third row, or a total interior of 191 cubic feet.

On the road, the two deliver similar driving experiences related to their size. Both require careful attention and concentration, and can sometimes get spooky—as when you find yourself on a side street with cars parked on both sides and a fire engine bearing down on you from either direction, siren wailing and blue and red lights flashing.

Urban traffic also can be challenging because the Navigator and Escalade are not quick moving puppies. They’re more like lumbering big English sheep dogs. Their forte is quiet, long-distance cruising on Interstates with the audio tuned to favorite music, especially if you happen to be towing a party barge or other trailer.

Specifications

  • Model: 2022 Lincoln Navigator Reserve four-door, seven-passenger sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 3.5-liter V6, twin turbochargers; 440 hp, 510 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 17 feet 6 inches.
  • Height: 6 feet 4 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: passengers 172 cubic feet; cargo 19/58/103 cubic feet behind third, second and first rows.
  • Weight: 5,855 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 8,300 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 16/22/18 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $91,440.
  • Price as tested: $102,715.

* * *

  • Model: 2023 Cadillac Escalade 4WD Premium Luxury four-door, seven-passenger sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 6.2-liter V8; 420 hp, 460 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 17 feet 10 inches.
  • Height: 6 feet 5 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: passengers 180 cubic feet; cargo 26/73/121 cubic feet behind third, second and first rows.
  • Weight: 5,356 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 7,500 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 14/18/16 mpg. Premium recommended.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $91,390.
  • Price as tested: $107,210.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicles used to conduct this test drive and review. Photos © Cadillac and Lincoln