Buy/Drive/Burn: Three Big and Luxurious 2018 SUVs

buy drive burn three big and luxurious 2018 suvs

Today’s subjects are ponderous, expensive, and very heavy. No, we’re not talking about state government representatives; we’re talking about full-size SUVs.

Come along, and we’ll select a big truck to burn.

The common thread of today’s SUV trio is an $85,000 price point. We’re being economical and practical here.

Lincoln Navigator

The newest design of our trio, the Navigator was (finally) all-new for the 2018 model year. After a decade-long third generation which, underneath, was essentially a modification of the Navigator from 2003, the big truck stepped up its game. Riding on the same Ford’s T3 truck platform as its Ford F-150 and Expedition corporate siblings, the Navigator is built in Louisville, Kentucky.

As the most expensive offering from Lincoln, prices start — for a base two-wheel drive model — at just over $73,000. Today’s example is the $85,205 Reserve trim. Four-wheel drive comes standard, as does a panoramic glass roof. Standard leather interior is available in four colors, just not the Black Label ones. Ford’s EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 powers all Navigators, sending 450 horsepower through the 10-speed automatic.

Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac introduced the new K2XX generation Escalade (the model’s fourth iteration) for 2015. Sharper styling and a greater emphasis on tech are the new model’s selling points — along with the valuable Escalade lettering scrawled across the tailgate. As the pinnacle of Cadillac’s offering, Escalade is assembled at the former B-body sedan plant in Arlington, Texas.

The base Escalade starts at just over $75,000, and nobody buys that one. They do buy today’s upper-mid Luxury 4WD trim though, for $83,795. Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system is standard, as well as active noise cancellation. At this price point, no-cost interior options are black or light tan leather. All Escalades feature a 6.2-liter Chevrolet V8 engine producing 420 horsepower, paired to a 10-speed automatic.

Lexus LX 570

The last car of our trio is also the one you’re least likely to see in traffic, and the oldest design of our group. Introduced as a third-generation model on the Land Cruiser J200 platform in 2007, the LX 570 was heavily facelifted in 2015 to keep up with its more modern competition. The selling point of the LX is the legendary Land Cruiser reliability underneath, and the luxury tinsel applied liberally over the top.

Price differentials between the LX and Land Cruiser have dwindled over the years, and are now distinguished only by the number of seats. The two-row LX 570 is nearly exactly the same price as the three-row Land Cruiser, at $85,630. Lexus charges just under $5,000 to add the third row to your LX. We declined. A large center screen and all luxuries come standard — the only option is a Luxury Package for nicer seats and additional climate control. At the base level, we have a choice of black leather with espresso wood trim or parchment leather with mocha trim. All LX models are powered by Toyota’s 5.7-liter V8, which directs an old school 383 horsepower through the eight-speed automatic.

Big SUVs, big money, and mostly big power. Which one’s the Buy?

[Images: Ford, GM, Toyota]

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  • Hydromatic Hydromatic on Oct 01, 2018

    Buy? The LX570. It's my money and I'm gonna spend it wisely. And spend it I will on a vehicle with excellent resale value and equally excellent build quality. Drive? The Navigator. I'd rather it have a V8, but I'm not gonna sneer at a twin-boosted V6, either. I'll take mine with that baby blue and white interior combo....and a way to fold or hide that damned tablet. Burn? Escalade. I don't care if it's got the big 6.2-liter motor and the solid axle that apparently makes the traditionalists tent their pants. I just don't want it.

  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Oct 02, 2018

    As an LX570 owner, I'll tell you this depends on how long you want to keep the machine. For the three years most of the buyers will own these things: Buy the Navi. It oozes style, it's actually roomy, and this variant of the 3.5 is an unstoppable force. For two decades: Buy the LX. The 200 series basically never break. When the most serious recurring issue is hairline cracks in the radiator around 100k miles, you know you've got some engineering. There is a reason why you can't walk a block in my snooty neighborhood in Seattle without running into an outwardly beat-up 80 or 100 (which are often treated to spare-no-expense mechanical maintenance). Always burn the Slade. It's a cynical creation with Impala-level interior materials, the ride of a Silverado, and zero third-row or cargo room.

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.