The luxury full-size SUV segment is not a large one, and the two most iconic of these vehicles are also among the oldest – the Cadillac Escalade and the Lincoln Navigator. Both of these models offer unmatched space, power, and comfort, as well as a large variety of advanced technologies. However, which one is really the ultimate luxury SUV? The comparison between the 2020 Cadillac Escalade vs 2020 Lincoln Navigator is a close-fought battle, and they both have their pros and cons, but only one of them can be crowned the ultimate SUV. In the end, considering its more rugged construction, three-row entertainment system, and the broader array of advanced driver’s aids, the winner of this title deserves to be the 2020 Cadillac Escalade. But let’s take a look at some of the specific details to back this up.
The Foundation of Luxury
While a luxury vehicle must have a panoply of features and options, a luxury vehicle is still a vehicle first, and no amount of fine details can cover up an inferior platform. So to start our comparison, let us take a look at how the 2020 Cadillac Escalade and the 2020 Lincoln Navigator stack up as vehicles. Although a first glance may lead you to think that these two full-size SUVs are nearly identical, a more in-depth look will reveal that despite their similarities, they have several significant automotive differences that set them apart. Overall, the 2020 Cadillac Escalade is the more traditional vehicle that sticks to proven design techniques and offers superior off-road and bad-weather performance, while the 2020 Lincoln Navigator embraces newer techniques to cut down on weight and improve fuel economy.
Performance vs Performance
In the first example of these differences, you will find that the 2020 Cadillac Escalade continues to employ a solid rear axle instead of the increasingly more common multilink independent rear suspension located on the 2020 Lincoln Navigator. In general, independent suspension slightly improves road handling, while a solid axle is often preferred for rough terrain and high power applications. The 2020 Lincoln Navigator also makes extensive use of aluminum in its constructions to save weight, while the 2020 Cadillac Escalade uses the more rugged steel.
The engines chosen for the two SUVs are another contrast in design philosophy. While the 2020 Cadillac Escalade is powered by a massive 6.2L V8 engine, the 2020 Lincoln Navigator makes use of a turbocharged 3.5L V6. And although the 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque in the 2020 Lincoln Navigator is actually more than the 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque in the 2020 Cadillac Escalade, smaller turbocharged engines tend to be less responsive and reliable, which can pose serious problems.
Rear-Wheel, All-Wheel, or Four-Wheel Drive?
In another example of its focus on performance, the 2020 Cadillac Escalade offers a more sophisticated four-wheel drive system. Both vehicles have a three-mode system that allows you to choose between rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive. In rear-wheel drive, only the rear wheels are powered to save fuel. When all-wheel drive is selected, again, only the rear wheels are powered, but if the vehicle detects wheel slip, it will automatically shift power to the front wheels as needed. Finally, when four-wheel drive is engaged, the vehicle will constantly power all four wheels. However, on the 2020 Cadillac Escalade, there is a two-speed transfer case that gives you separate 4Hi, and 4Lo ranges for superior control in adverse conditions or when off-road. The 2020 Lincoln Navigator only has a simpler one-speed transfer case. While both SUVs are fine vehicles, these compromises by Lincoln give the automotive edge to the 2020 Cadillac Escalade.
A solid automotive platform is only the first step in building a luxury vehicle. To compete in today’s market, it must also offer a full range of advanced features and technologies. This is not a problem for either of these luxury SUVs, and both of them are filled with advanced equipment. But here the competition between the 2020 Cadillac Escalade vs 2020 Lincoln Navigator is particularly close as they both offer almost all of the same features.
Slide into the driver’s seat of either of these top-of-the-line vehicles, and you will find a cockpit with all the bells and whistles. But from their head-up displays and 12” digital instrument clusters to their power-adjustable pedals and steering columns with memory settings for multiple drivers, these competitors share almost all of their significant features. Even smaller luxuries such as a cooled center console for storing food and beverages, heated and vented front row massage seats, and an active noise cancellation system are in both models. Still, some features set them apart.
The 2020 Lincoln Navigator offers a larger 10” central infotainment screen and an optional 20-speaker Revel Ultima sound system. Against this, the 2020 Cadillac Escalade only has an 8” screen and 16-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround sound. However, the sound system in the Escalade is standard on all trims while the 2020 Lincoln Navigator will more commonly be found with its base 14-speaker Revel (non-Ultima) setup.
The 2020 Cadillac Escalade also has an available three-screen rear-seat entertainment system against the two screens of the 2020 Lincoln Navigator. While both vehicles have dual seat back mounted displays for passengers in the second row, the 2020 Cadillac Escalade can be equipped with an additional roof-mounted screen for the benefit of third-row passengers as well. Another bit of technology unique to the 2020 Cadillac Escalade is its use of the entire rearview mirror as the display for its backup camera, which allows you to use the central infotainment screen purely for the 360º surround vision.
Cadillac Pulls Ahead
But when it comes to modern safety features on the two SUVs, the 2020 Cadillac Escalade is the clear winner. Both vehicles offer the basic automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and front and rear park assist. Together, these three systems mitigate the most common types of accidents and are the foundation of advanced safety. The two SUVs also both have sophisticated parking systems that will semi-automatically steer you into a tight parking space, so you do not need to worry about trying to parallel park such large vehicles.
However, the only driver’s aid that is unique to the 2020 Lincoln Navigator is adaptive cruise control. And while that is valuable on long highway journeys, it does not stack up well against the numerous additional safety technologies found on the 2020 Cadillac Escalade. These include reverse automatic braking, lane change, and side blind-zone alert, and rear cross-traffic alert. Combined, they make maneuvering the full-size SUV around parking lots or busy streets a much easier and safer task. And finally, the 2020 Cadillac Escalade also offers a safety alert seat that will vibrate to warn you of danger – just do not confuse it with the vibrations from the massage seat if you also chose that option.
In the end, a comparison of the 2020 Cadillac Escalade vs 2020 Lincoln Navigator reveals why both of these vehicles are the leaders of the luxury full-size SUV segment. Inside and out, neither will disappoint you when it comes to power, comfort, or technology. But while they both have their own advantages and disadvantages, in the end, the 2020 Cadillac Escalade is a more robust vehicle and noticeably safer vehicle. Compared to those advantages, small improvements in power or infotainment fail to turn things around for Lincoln and leaves the Cadillac as having the ultimate SUV.