Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2018 Lincoln Navigator first drive review, the 2018 Lincoln Navigator new car review and the 2018 Infiniti QX80 review.
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator is one hot SUV. It’s been racking up awards and drawing tons of attention. For good reason, too, as this completely redesigned full-size luxury SUV is an attractive, bold leap forward for what was largely a forgotten vehicle. Yet as much attention as the Navigator is getting, how does it compare to other full-size luxury SUVs? To find out, let’s stack it up against the 2018 Infiniti QX80. The QX80 has been updated for 2018 as well, and although not all-new, there’s certainly enough improvement to make it a more appealing choice.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
There weren’t many vehicles on the market that needed a redesign more than the Navigator, and for 2018 it got just that and then some. It’s now mechanically based on the equally new Ford Expedition, and like that SUV (plus the Ford F-150), has a body made of weight-saving aluminum. It also has the Ford Raptor’s 450-horsepower engine. Inside, the Navigator still impresses, with class-leading passenger and cargo space — but it now boasts a stylish and well-made cabin that’s sure to impress. See the 2018 Lincoln Navigator models for sale near you
2018 Infiniti QX80
The QX80 got a significant update for 2018. The dimensions and overall body remain the same, but the styling was subtly altered to be considerably more attractive (note the raised headlights and less pod-like taillights). The interior is now quieter, some controls have been updated, and tech offerings have been enhanced with an updated tech interface and an improved rear-seat entertainment system (bigger screens, Blu-Ray, an HDMI port and two additional USB ports). See the 2018 Lincoln Navigator models for sale near you
The Navigator is so completely new that it’s impossible to predict future reliability. Meanwhile, the QX80 (along with its QX56 predecessor and Nissan Armada twin) have sold in such small numbers that there isn’t a sufficient data set.
If anything, the number of parts shared by the Navigator and more mass-produced vehicles (like Ford’s Expedition and F-150) would lead us to guess that it may be easier and cheaper to maintain. The larger Lincoln/Ford dealer network may also be a benefit.
The Navigator and QX80 have considerably different powertrains. The Navigator has a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 that produces a vigorous 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. A 10-speed automatic is standard, along with rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is an option. Despite having a mammoth power advantage over the Infiniti (and indeed everything in its class), the Navigator returns better fuel economy. With 4-wheel drive, it achieves an estimated 16 miles per gallon in the city, 21 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg in combined driving. Rear-wheel drive nets an extra 1 mpg combined.
The QX80 has a 5.6-liter V8 good for 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. That’s a pretty hefty amount, but it’s obviously less than the Navigator, which also weighs a bit less. That’s an equation that leads to slower acceleration. The QX80 comes with a 7-speed automatic, along with the choice of rear- or 4-wheel drive. It returns an estimated 13 mpg city/19 mpg hwy/15 mpg combined with 4-wheel drive. Rear-drive adds 1 mpg to each figure.
That combined fuel economy difference between the 4-wheel-drive Navigator and QX80 would equate to an annual average fuel cost difference of $850. That’s enormous.
Towing capacity between the two is basically the same, with the Navigator offering 8,700 pounds and the QX80 countering with just a bit less, at 8,500.
Both the Navigator and QX80 come with front, front-side and full-length side curtain airbags, along with stability control and a backup camera. Both can be equipped with forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning and steering assist. In addition to those features, the QX80’s Driver Assistance package also includes a reverse automatic braking system and steering assistance for its blind spot monitoring system. The Navigator is offered with an automatic parking system.
Neither SUV has been crash-tested by a third party.
The Navigator is just a wee bit bigger than the QX80 on the outside, but it’s palpably bigger inside. This is most evident in the third row, where tall, full-size adults can fit comfortably for however long is needed. There are minivans with less comfortable third rows.
Now the QX80 actually has more third-row space than a Cadillac Escalade or Lexus LX 570, but that says more about how useless those cars’ rearmost quarters are. Adults might be able to fit in the QX80’s third row, but it’s mostly a kids-only space. Most large crossovers are better.
Cargo space is also tilted heavily in the Navigator’s favor. No matter which seats are raised, the Lincoln has between 4 and 8 cu ft. more than the Infiniti, which is a difference you can notice. There’s also an extended-length Navigator L model, which really only adds cargo space — it balloons from 20.9 cu ft. with the third row raised to 36.0. The QX80 only ever has 16.6 cu ft.
Interior Design and Quality
Admittedly, you’re most likely to see the Navigator’s most expensive Black Label interiors in pictures. There’s reason to show them off, however. Their sumptuous pale blue and dark red color schemes in particular are like nothing else out there and pair beautifully with the Navigator’s distinctive 21st-Century-meets-mid-century-modern motif. It’s very cool, but even in lower trim levels and with less flashy black, beige or gray color schemes, the Navigator can really impress. Quality has also been ratcheted up considerably from its predecessor and is now far more in keeping with the world’s best, while the available 30-way adjustable front seats are literally like nothing else out there.
The QX80 quite frankly can’t match the Navigator’s fashion-forward cabin, but it’s nevertheless a handsome and well-made space. Its leather is buttery soft, the seats’ diamond quilting is a classy touch, and there are Tempurpedic mattresses that are less squishy than the armrests. There’s no doubting the QX80’s luxury credentials — it’s just that the Lincoln puts on a better show.
The QX80 doesn’t have Infiniti’s latest tech interface, which consists of a confusing pairing of two screens. That’s actually a good thing. The QX80 only has one touchscreen, supported by a redundant control knob and physical buttons. It’s a dated setup, and all those buttons create visual clutter, but functionally it works quite well. In terms of content, every QX80 gets integrated navigation, four USB ports, satellite radio and a 13-speaker Bose audio system. There’s a 15-speaker Bose system upgrade available, along with a dual-screen rear entertainment system complete with Blu-Ray and HDMI ports.
The Navigator comes standard with a much larger, 10-inch touchscreen that controls most infotainment functions. It comes with Lincoln/Ford’s SYNC 3 interface, which is easy enough to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, however, as are six USB ports, integrated navigation and a 14-speaker audio system. A 20-speaker Revel sound system and a rear-seat entertainment system are available, but the latter doesn’t have a Blu-Ray player.
So admittedly, the QX80 has been getting beaten up thus far, but that’s about to change. Its base price of $64,845 is considerably lower than the Navigator’s starting point of $73,250, despite being similarly equipped. If you load the QX80 up with every possible option, it hits the register at $82,695. A comparably equipped Navigator Reserve would be $88,255. The similarly equipped but ritzier Navigator Black Label would be around $96,000 and can top $100,000.
The QX80 is actually a smarter buy than other full-size luxury SUVs, boasting a strong engine, a well-made cabin, loads of equipment and, importantly, more passenger space. Against anything else, it stacks up extremely well. The all-new Navigator, however, offers so much functionality, capability and style that it’s generally the better bet. Yes, it costs more, but given its superiority in so many areas, it probably should. Find a Lincoln Navigator for sale or Find an Infiniti QX80 for sale