If gas prices are truly coming down – which many people don’t believe is sustainable based on current energy policies in countries like the United States and Canada – and you’re shopping for a luxury SUV, there’s plenty of choice in the ICE category.
Related: Gas prices driving you crazy? Hypermiling luxury sedans
Lincoln overhauled their fleet a few years back and are going just with SUVs and crossovers, after decades of luxury coupes and sedans. The three-row Navigator is the most prominent brand, which also includes the smaller Corsair and mid-size Aviator. Three new fully electric SUVs are on their way in 2025. Lincoln reported its best annual global sales in 21 years, up 7% over 2021, and plans to build on its momentum with the recent launches of the all-new Zephyr in China and the new Navigator in North America.
Luxury SUV: 2022 Lincoln Navigator
The difference-maker with the Navigator during our week-long drive came during what has become unfortunately commonplace living in Toronto. We had a funeral for a dear friend in Orillia we needed to get to. It was a Sunday in June. Funeral was at 2 p.m – 143 km, or 88-mile driving distance, mostly on major highways. Maybe an hour, 50 minutes, two-hour, drive time. Seemed straightforward, right?
On that day though the tall foreheads who run a city of close to three million closed two major highway arteries at the same time – the north/south 404 and the east/west Gardiner highway, which leads you to north/south highway connections. Plus another popular roadway to get out of the downtown to the highway, Queensway, was closed due to construction. So EVERYONE was shovelled to Lakeshore Blvd., a level of comically bad planning, communication, bureaucratic bungling reaching biblical levels. I mean, in an area of pure incompetence, they really topped themselves this time.
So there we were, having left plenty early, sitting in the jams of all jams. We had done our part. The gatekeepers didn’t do theirs. But this is where the Navigator elbowed its way into the discussion. You wouldn’t think the Lincoln Navigator, at the size of a small school bus, would be fast enough, but it is. And it was on this day. Thanks as well to the decision to widen Highway 400, running north-south to Barrie, we made the funeral in time – with 20 minutes to spare, actually.
2022 Lincoln Navigator: Value for your luxury dollar
The Navigator comes equipped with a twin-turbo 3.5L V6 (440 HP, 510 lb-ft of torque), rear-wheel drive,10-speed shiftable automatic, with adaptive suspension, four wheel anti-lock brakes and AdvanceTrac with roll stability control (improves the vehicle’s control on all driving surfaces). Listen, this Lincoln luxury SUV is huge (17.5 feet long), and commanding (it was Thursday before I explored the third row of seating).
But other than the power, what really struck me walking up to it was a confluence of craftsmanship, design features and technology. It’s a truly luxurious ride, and at an MSRP of $114,295 (for the media car I drove; base price $101,500), great value for your money, if you are jumping up this level. Yes, gas fill-up is a jolt. The 2022 Lincoln Navigator 4X4 reserve does 13.2 L/100 km (21 miles/gallon).
Inside, it was all comfort, a balm for that traipse through traffic hell. The luxury Lincoln Navigator interior features a panoramic vista roof, ventilated front seats, Revel audio system, Tri-Zone automatic climate control, 30-way power adjustable front seats, wireless charging pad, truly upscale interior styling with its leather and wood trim. You’ll be impressed, especially if you’re looking at a Cadillac Escalade as a comparable (standard vehicle price for the Premium Luxury in Canada of $102,400, $124k plus for the Premium Luxury Platinum).
“The confident, new look of Navigator and the introduction of advanced features such as Lincoln ActiveGlide – our hands-free driver-assist technology – are great examples of how we elevate our sanctuary experience and keep our vehicles fresh,” said Joy Falotico, president, Lincoln. “The new Navigator will continue to play a critical role in differentiating our brand and will welcome even more new clients to Lincoln.”
Self-driving vehicles are coming
ActiveGlide is an evolution of Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Lane Centering and Speed Sign Recognition. Signature blue light cues appear on the digital cluster and head-up display to indicate when the system’s advanced camera and radar are activated. That enables drivers to operate Navigator hands-free on prequalified sections of divided highways.
For me, I am not there yet when it comes to self-driving cars. Cars and SUVs are meant to be driven by humans. Still, in the end, on that Sunday, the Lincoln Navigator was a lifesaver.
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Luxury SUV: And what about the 2022 Infiniti QX80 AWD?
That Monday, upon handing the keys for the Navigator over, I jumped right away into a 2022 Infiniti QX80. Back to craftsmanship and design elements, it’s a step down, but so is the price (base retail price of $89,695, $92,540 as tested). And also, it has that commanding presence (same length as the Navigator – 210 inches), athletic and and powerful, also with three rows of seating. It’s an upscale vehicle, with a strong, smooth ride. So it’s a question of what you want for your money.
Luxury SUVs – Gas mileage
Gas mileage is the other question: 15.1 L/100 km, combined city and highway. In terms of mechanical performance, the Infiniti QX80 comes equipped with a 5.6L V8 engine (400 HP, 413 lb-ft of torque), with independent double wishbone front and rear suspension. Like the Navigator, it’s speedy, factoring in its size.
A very sharp touch is the 22 inch, dark finish cast aluminum alloy wheels, which adds to the bold, athletic design impressions from a side view.
The interior is a mix of quality interiors, vibrant textures, intuitive technologies and controls, led by a 12.3 infotainment touch screen (new for 2022), Apple Carplay and Android Auto, on-board WiFi and Bose Performance Series Audio with 17 speakers. The leather upholstery is of course nice, with heated and cooled seats for the winter and summer months. There’s a sliding glass moonroof. The second row has captain chairs, with plenty of leg room (as you would expect) and control of their own media.
Luxury SUV: Safety features
The Adaptive Front Lighting is nice, with the headlights intuitively adjusting to your steering. Safety features on the Infiniti QX80 include front and rear proximity sensors, predictive forward collision warning, blind spot warning and intervention, around view monitor with moving object detection (which bailed us out several times parking in tight city spots), and lane departure warning and prevention.
If you’re going to buy an SUV this size, talk to your dealer about the safety features, and get him or her to explain each of them. The bigger the SUV the more you’ll rely on the technological features to back you up on the road safety front.
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If I’m reaching up to buy in this class, and the choice is between these two luxury SUVs, I’m going to stand on my toes, pay the extra, and go for the Lincoln Navigator. Power, dexterity, interior luxury and comfort, technological features, and extra storage space puts the Navigator into the Cadillac Escalade class. Maybe not quite side by side, of course, but closer. I’d just have to figure out how to squeeze it into my underground parking space, so thank God for parking assist.
Images: Mark Keast