Three-row SUVs can be sexy, especially when they come from luxury automakers. The available technology, fancy trims, and smooth leather can enhance the experience without sacrificing utility or space. But Germans and Americans have differing senses of luxury. The Lincoln Navigator has completely changed the game in terms of American luxury and offers bold and brash styling, while the well-tailored GLS comes with a sharp interior and an impressive 12.3-inch touchscreen. How do these two luxury family SUVs compare?
Let’s have a look.
SUVs offer different approaches in terms of styling. Overall, the Navigator’s boxy style is more eye-catching than the design of the GLS. The American SUV’s big grille and extensive headlights contrast with the GLS’ leaner, crisper front end.
Both have LED daytime running lights, but the GLS uses subtle touches of chrome, unlike the Navigator. And each of the GLS trims comes with its own distinct front-bumper design. Out back, the Navigator’s single broad brake light spans the width of the vehicle, giving it an even wider look, while the GLS goes for a more conventional design with individual brake lights that extend to the license plate housing. The GLS’ optional rocker panel trim that’s made to look like running boards or rock sliders gives it a bit of an off-road look.
We’ve praised the Navigator’s twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque; it has proven to deliver power and move the heavy SUV with urgency. Its smooth 10-speed automatic transmission works precisely, shifting gears at the proper moment. But we’ll have to wait to drive the GLS to give you our opinion of its 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six, which delivers 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Although that output is familiar, the new 2020 GLS adds a 48-volt electrical system with an integrated starter generator, helping to dole out an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque for short periods of time.
The 2020 GLS also offers the output-enhancing electrical system in tandem with a turbocharged V-8 engine making 483 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Both propulsion systems are tied to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The Navigator’s second row is quite comfortable, especially in the Black Label trim where it incorporates captain’s chairs with a wood-covered center console. My only critique is that the second-row seats have manual adjustment instead of the electric adjustment we’d expect in an SUV priced around $100,000. The GLS’ second row is also a comfortable space, and the seats can slide forward or backward with the touch of a button. You can fold and unfold the second-row seats from the cargo area, and the long panoramic moonroof provides a sense of spaciousness whether you’re sitting in the second or third row. Speaking of third rows, the GLS’ is just spacious enough for my 6-foot frame, with the biggest compromise being legroom. Headroom—something most three-row SUVs lack—is ample in the Mercedes. The Navigator’s third-row headroom is just enough for someone my size so that he or she doesn’t hit the headliner, while legroom is a little better than in the GLS.
The GLS’ 12.3-inch touchscreen with the new MBUX interface is fasinating. Its refined graphics and colorful maps make this a great display. It’s controlled via a touchpad, which is conveniently located in the middle of the center console; The Mercedes also offers two USB Type-C ports on each side of the third row, two in the second row, and two in the front. The Navigator’s floating screen has no buttons, making it look clean and modern. USB ports are located in all three rows. Both SUVs offer a digital gauge display that looks sharp and provides all the information the driver needs to know.
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