Trucks & SUVs

Deciding Between the 2021 Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade Isn’t Easy

The Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade were two of the first luxury SUVs, arriving for the 1998 and 1999 model years, respectively. If you’re in the market for a new luxury SUV, you may be deciding between the 2021 models of these two. They do have a lot of similarities, so how should you choose?

The exteriors of the Lincoln Navigator and the Cadillac Escalade

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is now seven inches longer than last year and one inch bigger than the Navigator. Up front, the Escalade’s wide grille is in the shape of the Cadillac logo. The Escalade’s grille is mesh surrounded by chrome.

The Escalade has 22-inch wheels compared to the base Lincoln Navigator’s 20-inch wheels, though 22-inch wheels are available for both. The Escalade also has available soft-close doors, which the Navigator doesn’t offer.

Powertrains

For 2021, the Lincoln Navigator has the more powerful engine, with a twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, generating 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a new 10-speed automatic transmission. The Escalade still has a 6.2-liter small-block V8, producing 420 hp and 460-lb-ft of torque; although now it has dynamic fuel management, auto stop/start, and a 10-speed transmission. MotorTrend found the two to be pretty similar in their acceleration.

The Escalade is eventually expected to have an additional engine option, a turbodiesel V6 with an output of 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. MotorTrend expects this engine to be slower but more fuel-efficient.

Towing capabilities

The 2021 Lincoln Navigator is rated to tow between 8,100 and 8,700 pounds, which is a bit more than the Escalade is expected to handle. The Navigator includes a number of trailer-towing features, but what’s most impressive is the Trailer Backup Assist, which lets the driver use a rotary knob on the console to steer a trailer going in reverse.

Cadillac hasn’t yet confirmed the 2021 Escalade’s towing abilities, but it’s expected to be similar or slightly less than the 2020 model due to the switch to an independent rear suspension. It’s thought to be able to tow 7,900 to 8,200 pounds. It has the same features as Chevrolet and GMC SUVs for towing a trailer, offering nine camera views, extended side blind zone alert, trailer-lights test, trailer theft alert, auto park brake, and trailer tire pressure monitoring. It also has trailering profiles in the myCadillac app.

Comparing the interiors

Motor Authority described the Cadillac Escalade as “super modern” inside and the Lincoln Navigator as a combination of modern and retro. The Escalade introduces new interior colors and materials for 2021. The eight different Escalade interiors utilize a variety of different woods. Inside the cabin, the Lincoln Navigator has seats that are more adjustable than the Escalade’s seats. The Navigator seats adjust in 30 ways.

The Escalade’s switch from a live axle to an independent rear suspension, along with an extra 4.9 inches added to the wheelbase of the shorter Escalade, has made the short-wheelbase Escalade and the Navigator similar in passenger volume.

The Escalade is still 17.8 cubic feet smaller than the Navigator in the standard lengths and 9.0 cubic feet smaller in the stretched lengths. The Escalade has slightly more space in the front and middle seats, but the Navigator has more room in the third-row seats.

The Escalade wins in cargo space, with 6.2 to 6.8 cubic feet of more space behind the third row than the Navigator. The Escalade also has 15.2 to 19.6 cubic feet of more space with the third row folded down and 19.6 to 24.5 cubic feet of more space with both seats folded down.

Technology

The Cadillac Escalade has the larger infotainment screen, with its 12.6-inch touchscreen compared to the Lincoln Navigator’s 10-inch screen. The Escalade provides 38 inches of curved screens throughout the leather-wrapped dashboard.

Both SUVs offer different Harman Kardon audio systems. The Cadillac Escalade system is made by Harman company AKG and provides 19 speakers or 36 speakers in the upgraded system. The Lincoln Navigator includes 14 speakers made by Revel, also owned by Harman Kardon, and that can be upgraded to a 20-speaker system.

Both the Navigator and Escalade come with lots of safety features. The Escalade includes a few “industry firsts,” though. The Escalade’s Super Cruise offers hands-free driver assistance. Also new for the 2021 Escalade is lane-change assist. Both the Navigator and Escalade provide automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and active lane control. The Navigator also has standard blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control.

The Lincoln Navigator offers more value than the Cadillac Escalade

Both SUVs provide plenty of luxury at a high price. The 2021 models are expected to be about $77,500 to $102,000 for the Cadillac Escalade and $77,120 to $101,265 for the Navigator. The 2021 Lincoln Navigator still comes out on top for the space it offers, but the 2021 Cadillac Escalade provides more tech.