Battle of the Titans: 2015 Cadillac Escalade vs. 2015 Lincoln Navigator

Two of Americas favourite full-size SUV’s have been refreshed for this year to bring them up to date with the competition. The new SUV’s from Cadillac and Lincoln feature bold styling and luxurious interiors that they are proud of. It’s this bold styling that has seen these cars gather an almost cult following whether it rappers or the CIA. However would you really chose either of these cars over a similarly priced Mercedes GL or Range Rover Sport or even the Infiniti QX80? Let’s take a closer look at the updated monster SUV’s and which one emerges the victor?

Styling:

Let’s start with the Cadillac; it is certainly a very bold statement and clearly a member of the Cadillac family. The 2015 Escalade is a big step forward from the outgoing model which was looking rather dated and was losing its appeal. Immediately the first thing you notice is the oversized chrome grille and prominent Cadillac badge. The new all LED lights give the car a smart modern look, also new are the day time running lights (DLR) and vertical fog lights. In profile you notice the new side mirrors which are now more angular and the chrome strips that surround the now squared off windows. Round the back we see tall vertical LED lights which dominate the rear design, they add a healthy dose of drama to the otherwise plain rear. The new tail-lights have certainly received mixed reviews, I quite like them and they certainly look better than the old small rectangular units.

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Bold new front grille and attractive LED lights

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Most notable on the new model are the tall vertical LED lights

The Navigator on the other hand has not seen such vast changes as its rival. Most notably is that old ‘barbeque’ looking grille has been replaced with a more modern yet typical Lincoln style grille, it looks much better. All new headlights have been incorporated which feature LED DLR lights which also makes the Navigator looks far more in tune with the times. For side profile not much is different on the new SUV except for the thick chrome detailing that surrounds the windows. The rear of the car see’s some much needed visual drama in the form of the brake light that now horizontally extends the full length of the boot lid. The new car is more appealing than the outgoing model and now looks like it belongs in 2014.

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All new HID lights and Lincoln grille

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Where Cadillac goes vertical, Lincoln goes horizontal

Verdict: It’s a tough choice as styling is subjective but the Escalade takes the win

Interior:

This time we’ll look at the Navigator first. The basic architecture of the interior is much the same in the new car as the old. However there are several new design elements that lift the overall ambience of the cabin. Notably the new touch screen navigation system and gone are the cheap looking plastics in favour of a much smarter looking front fascia. The weird looking square instrument cluster has been ditched in favour of a stylish looking new display. The quality in the cabin also looks to have taken a big step up with soft touch materials and leather being used extensively around the cabin. I like the angular design which looks more rugged than the Cadillac, I think it is more fitting for an SUV.

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Smart new interior with good quality materials

The Escalade’s interior has received a more drastic change than the exterior. The old cars interior was nothing special and the material used left a lot to be desired, it was a boring thing to look at. That cannot be said for the new interior, it’s instantly more attractive with a chic black piano finish. Cadillac is definitely making some nice looking cars both inside and out. The new Escalade is similar to the ATS in that a controversial new touch sensitive fascia replaces all functional buttons. Now as attractive as it looks it needs to work and I have heard several negative things about the new touch sensitive fascia and how it leaves drivers infuriated, here’s hoping they’ve sorted it out for the new Escalade. One thing Cadillac really needs to change is the large gear lever that ruins an otherwise smart cabin.

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Smart new interior, notice the touch screen front fascia and large gear selector

Verdict: This was a tough call, I love the new Cadillac design but the stylish and more conservative Navigator wins this one by the narrowest of margins.

Engines:

The Escalade is powered by an old school 6.2 litre V8 which develops a not outstanding 313kW and 623Nm of torque. The transmission is also a dated six- speed automatic; a more modern eight-speed would have be a better suited to the car as well as lowered the overall fuel consumption. Interestingly four-wheel drive is an option on top of an already pricey SUV. Probably this cars biggest criticsm is the engine/transmission combination which needs to be updated as not everyone owns their own oil field.

The biggest news for the Lincoln is the new engine. The old 5.4 litre has been replaced by a very impressive new 3.5 litre EcoBoost V6 unit. The new engine might not be as powerful as the Escalade but is far more modern. It produces a healthy 276kW and 582Nm of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Again four-wheel drive is an optional extra. This engine is surely going to be vastly more efficient than the Cadillac’s V8 and should be the highlight of the overall Lincoln package.

Verdict: I think it’s pretty obvious the Lincoln takes this one fairly comprehensively.

 Overall Verdict:

1st: Despite not being as revolutionary as the Cadillac it still comes out tops. The Navigator has a better interior with proven tech and smart design. The engine definitely helped it win as it is vastly superior to the Escalades thirsty V8; it’s nearly as powerful but will no doubt be more efficient. It is also hard to ignore that it is a lot cheaper than its rival. Criticsm would be that Lincoln needs a more extreme update of the exterior.

2nd: Goes the Cadillac Escalade. I really like the new design both inside and out and the new car is a vast improvement over the outgoing model. The more I look at it the more I like it, Cadillac should be proud of the new design and it will definitely appeal to a larger market. Niggles of the new model include the annoying touch fascia and the outdated engine/transmission and the hefty price tag.

Although I must say that if I was in the market for a full-sized SUV I wouldn’t be buying either of these cars, the Mercedes GL can carry seven in luxurious comfort and it has vastly superior engines and feels bulletproof. A GL450, despite being down on power is a lot cheaper than both rival American SUV’s. Also on my short list is the all new Range Rover Sport which can also carry seven and is a truly dynamic performer, it’s also considerably cheaper and has amazing new engines. Don’t forget to check the massive Infiniti QX80 which is powerful and packed with features!

Please note that all images were taken from http://www.netcarshow.com

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