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Luxury Land Yachts: The Current Luxury SUV Landscape

Luxury Land Yachts: The Current Luxury SUV Landscape

Luxury SUV sales are up over 6 percent so far in 2017; riding the high created by rapid consumer shifts to trucks and SUVs. Some of this demand has been stimulated by oil prices that have sustained at lower levels, allowing Americans to once again embrace the land yachts they so deeply desire.

Such land yachts include some iconic nameplates like Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. For the first time in nearly 15 years, Lincoln is rolling out an all-new Navigator right now. The timing is nearly perfect for it to seize on luxury SUV sales growth and by all accounts, Lincoln’s execution seems near perfection.

Although we haven’t had the chance to drive the 2018 Navigator just yet, its spec sheet is tough to debate. Despite being bigger than an Escalade or Mercedes-Benz GLS, it’s more powerful and gets respectable fuel economy to boot.

Much like the Escalade, the Navigator comes stacked with standard features for its $73,250 cost of entry. There’s almost an uncanny parity between Navigator and Escalade when it comes to standard features, in fact. Both offer a 12-inch screen as a gauge cluster, 4G LTE WiFi and power-folding third row seats at base price. Escalade offers a few more luxury items, such as heated/cooled front seats to justify its $2,040 price premium.

We’ve thrown the Mercedes-Benz GLS into this spec sheet battle for the sake of discussion. It rightfully offers the lowest base price when equipped with the base 3.0-liter V-6 engine. Opting for the BiTurbo 4.7-liter V-8 sends the Benz into orbit from a price perspective; likely out of reach for those cross-shopping an Escalade or Navigator.

In typical Mercedes fashion, it offers the least in terms of standard features. The boys in Stuttgart are offering copious amounts of options though, which sends the GLS 450 into the six-figure pricing league of the Escalade and Navigator.

While the feature parity between all three is fairly ubiquitous when fully-decked, it’s hard to justify the value proposition of the GLS 450.  Of course, buyers will likely factor in some value associated with owning a land yacht that features the prestigious three-pointed star.

For those who can see beyond the star, the Navigator is clearly the full-size luxury SUV king – for now. Both the Escalade and GLS are due for redesigns in the next year or two, which may shift the paradigm yet again.

2018 Lincoln Navigator2018 Cadillac Escalade2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450
Base Price (w/ destination)$73,250$75,290$70,545
EngineTwin-Turbocharged 3.5-liter V-66.2-liter V-8Bi-Turbo 3.0-liter V-6
Torque510 lb-ft460 lb-ft369 lb-ft
Transmission10-speed automatic10-speed automatic9-speed automatic
Fuel TypeRegular (Premium for full power output)PremiumPremium
4X4 Fuel Economy (city/highway) 16/21 mpg14/21 mpg17/22 mpg
4X4 Towing Capacity8,400 lbs8,100 lbs7,500 lbs
Overall Length 210.0″203.9″201.6″
Seating Capacity887
Cargo Space (behind 3rd row)19.3 cu ft15.2 cu ft16 cu ft
Significant Standard FeaturesReverse sensing system, blind spot monitoring, 12″ configurable LCD gauge cluster, hands-free liftgate, tri-zone climate control, 4G LTE WiFi, navigation system, power folding 3rd row seatsWireless device charging, 360 degree camera, 4G LTE WiFi, hands-free liftgate, heated steering wheel, 12″ configurable LCD gauge cluster, park assist, heated/cooled front seats, heated 2nd row seats, tri-zone climate controlHeated front seats, tri-zone climate control, sunroof
Optional FeaturesAdaptive suspension, Panoramic Vista Roof, 360-degree camera, ventilated front seats, power folding 2nd row seats, 24-way power front seats, 14-speaker Revel audio system, heated steering wheel, 22″ wheels, auto high-beams, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, rear seat entertainment Auto high-beams, 22″ wheels, power running boards, sunroof, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, heads-up display, lane keep assist, rear-seat entertainmentIlluminated running boards, LED headlights, auto high-beams, Panorama roof, heated steering wheel, massaging front seats, navigation system, ventilated front seats, heated 2nd row seats, heated/cooled cupholders, power 2nd row seat, rear window shades, premium audio system, park assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping system, 360-degree camera, speed limit assist, active curve system, off-road package
Fully Loaded MSRP$100,135 (Black Label)$103,670 (Platinum)$103,640


About Nick Saporito

AutoVerdict Senior Editor Nick Saporito began writing about cars at age 13. Nick ran a couple of automotive enthusiast sites for several years, before taking some time off to focus on his career and education. By day he's a marketing executive in the telecom world and by night he hangs out here at AV. You'll find him focusing on tech, design and the industry's future.
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  1. donmateo
    No Range Rover comparison?
    You can get both the Navigator and Escalade to 105k
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