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2020 Lincoln Navigator Black Label vs. BMW X7 xDrive40i: ’Gator or Bimmer?

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  6. 2020 Lincoln Navigator Black Label vs. BMW X7 xDrive40i: ’Gator or Bimmer?

Lincoln meets the newest entrant to the luxury full-size three-row SUV.

See the Full Model Overview

After debuting at the 2017 New York International Auto Show, the fourth-generation Lincoln Navigator has done much to restore the Lincoln brand to its glory days. In the past three years, sales have significantly increased, market expansion in China is underway, and Lincoln recently introduced a two-tone Black Label Special Edition model. The Michigan-born (and Kentucky-built) three-row also earned first place on our best full-size luxury SUV rankings, beating the Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes-Benz GLS, and newcomer BMW X7. So naturally, next on the order of business is a face-off with one of its competitors.

At first glance, this pairing may seem a bit strange, but let us explain. The BMW X7 is the newest kid on the block, and if it’s going to join the three-row luxury SUV club, it has to face a veteran like the Navigator. Until recently, BMW trailed Mercedes-Benz in the market for years. Similarly, the Navigator is yet to reach the sales records held by the Escalade. The underdog status of both the X7 and the Navigator makes it the perfect match.

Lincoln Navigator Black Label Vs. BMW X7 xDrive40i: Price Tags and Size

As tested, the Lincoln Navigator Black Label stickers for $98,850, and closely behind the BMW X7 xDrive40i checks out at $96,895. Although the difference between these two luxury SUVs is a mere $1,955, the X7 price includes $22,000 in options alone, whereas the Navigator Black Label comes fully loaded as standard and is priced accordingly. It’s worth noting that the base Navigator 4×4 is $18,700 less than the Black Label trim. In other words, Lincoln bundles everything together in one package, whereas BMW makes you buy options separately. Among the big-ticket items on the X7 are the Bowers & Wilkins sound system ($3,400), Dynamic Handling package ($3,850), and Executive package ($4,100), the latter of which adds an LED roof, gesture control, and heated/cooled cupholders, none of which the Navigator has.

Both SUVs seat seven passengers—unless you opt for the captain’s chairs in the X7, which replace the second-row bench seat and reduces seating to six. We should point out that the Black Label comes standard with captain’s chairs, and BMW charges $850 for them. There is no question which of these two luxe behemoths offers the most legroom and best third row; that would be the Navigator. While they share similar headroom in all three rows, the Black Label provides 43.9/41.1/42.3 inches of legroom (front/middle/rear) compared to the X7’s 39.8/37.6/33.3 inches. The fact that the 6.7-inch longer Lincoln offers a cumulative 16.6 inches more legroom speaks to the degree to which passenger space is prioritized in the Navigator. For those who enjoy spending time in remote environs with a camper trailer attached, the Navigator has a towing capacity of 8,300 pounds. The X7, on the other hand, can haul up to 7,500 pounds.

Lincoln Navigator Black Label Vs. BMW X7 xDrive40i: Fancy Interiors

“I forgot how nice the Navigator was,” features editor Christian Seabaugh said. “It’s one of those luxury vehicles where you open the door and immediately feel like you’ve stepped into a private luxury chalet. The interior design harkens back to a bygone era of automobiles (and homes), and despite modern necessities like screens, it really feels like Lincoln has forged its own path.”

The gorgeously appointed Black Label features the Chalet theme, which combines Alpine Venetian leather, wood trim, and chrome accents. As soon as you find a comfortable seating position in the 30-way adjustable driver’s seat, you can feel the value of your money. The premium interior accommodates all passengers aboard and resembles a mini penthouse on wheels. Heated captain’s chairs and a center console with multimedia controls in the second row are standard, though you can also choose the pass-through option.

There is so much to like about the ergonomically designed cabin. A floating center console provides several storage compartments for sunglasses, beverages, snacks, and small bags. The majority of folks will appreciate the clean dashboard layout and ease of access to climate, volume, and seat controls. Oh, and the user-friendly touchscreen infotainment and spectacular Revel Ultima sound system are sure to get the party started on a family road trip.

Now let’s talk about that near-flawless BMW X7 interior. Where to begin? Our tester arrived in the Coffee Extended Merino leather (one of several $2,450 upholstery upgrades). The massaging seats in the X7 are among the best we have ever experienced; they take care of you from the rump up to your shoulders. It is also neat how many massage styles are available, and the comprehensive ambient lighting is just fabulous.

Unlike the Navigator’s clutter-free cabin, the X7’s is a tad on the condensed side, and sections like the center console control panel feel busy. Despite that, the beautiful diamond-cut glass gear lever and sophisticated infotainment controller are welcome novelties. And like most advanced technology features in modern luxury vehicles, there is a learning curve to the touchscreen, which may challenge some and upset others. Also worth mentioning, third-row passengers get their own sunroof, climate zone, mood light, cupholders, and heated seats. Not a terrible place to be, and the kids will undoubtedly agree.

“I’m not a fan of BMW’s current interior design language, but there’s no denying the success of the X7,” Seabaugh said. “I love the quilted brown leather (complete with an interesting waveform pattern on the upper portion and spine of the seat) and the choice of walnut, satin metallic, and black trim to offset it; really looks great.”

In terms of advanced safety features, both the X7 and Navigator come generously equipped, with standard lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, parking assistance, and rear cross-traffic alert.  

Lincoln Navigator Black Label Vs. BMW X7 xDrive40i: MT Testing

Under the hood, the four-wheel-drive Lincoln Navigator Black Label packs a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque on tap coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission. This combo helped the Navigator accomplish 0-60 in 5.9 seconds and the quarter mile in 14.5 seconds at 95.8 mph. On our figure-eight skidpad test, a course that evaluates braking, acceleration, and cornering, a complete loop took 27.8 seconds at 0.62 average g.

On the Bimmer front, our test vehicle came equipped with the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six making 335 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic. (BMW offers a V-8 for an extra 25 grand in the X7 xDrive50i variant.) The X7 reached 60 mph from a standstill in 5.6 seconds and performed the quarter mile in 14.2 seconds at 96.8 mph. Its run through the figure eight happened in 26.3 seconds at 0.67 average g.

Of the X7’s braking performance, road test editor Chris Walton noted: “Medium-firm pedal, modest dive, but the brakes are exceedingly strong, and the tires are grippy. Braking distances in order: 110, 112, 110, 112 feet.” The X7 braking results outperformed the Navigator, which came in at 131, 125, 127, 125 feet.

Lincoln Navigator Black Label Vs. BMW X7 xDrive40i: Driving Impressions

The Navigator drives enjoyably, considering it’s a massive body-on-frame SUV. However, it can give off a good rattling on rougher roads and controls itself better on smoother surfaces. That is likely because the coil springs and adjustable dampers on the Navigator struggle to manage the unsprung mass of the 22-inch wheels. On the other hand, the BMW air-spring/adjustable damper suspension handles the same-sized wheels better. Still, the standard adaptive suspension on the Navigator does a decent enough job. “Surprisingly capable handler,” Seabaugh said. “Body roll is fairly well-controlled, there’s plenty of grip, and steering is light but precise. This isn’t the barge you’d think it would be.”

If you take on a sharp turn too quickly, be prepared to stomp on those brakes, as it takes a great deal of braking input to slow down. When accelerating, the ‘Gator will surprise you and deliver quite the performance despite its size and three-ton curb weight. Shifting is smooth, and steering is impressively light. The ride quality and comfort can persuade you to pack your bags and take the family on an extended vacation in the majestic American Southwest.

How does the all-wheel-drive BMW X7 stack up? The softly padded and well-designed steering wheel feels perfect in your hands. In Sport mode, driving the X7 becomes more engaging, and on the throttle, it does not hesitate to climb up a curving road. And for those split-second moments when you need to bring a 5,530-pound SUV to a halt, the potent M Sport brakes (included in the Dynamic Handling package) have your back. Still, we wish for more astute damping. “The body control is just disappointing, especially for a BMW,” features editor Scott Evans said. “The body is always moving around, side to side, diagonally, front, and back.”

Indeed, the X7 has a less powerful engine than the Navigator; however, for how most consumers will drive it, 335 horsepower is adequate and should provide a fun driving experience, so long as just a single occupant is on board. The ZF-sourced automatic transmission shifts seamlessly, and although the 22-inch wheels can upset the ride quality, the air suspension with adaptive dampers handles rough patches quite well.

Lincoln Navigator Black Label Vs. BMW X7 xDrive40i: Which Is the Better Buy?

A full-size luxury SUV with a third row should accommodate every passenger aboard, from the driver to the teenager tucked away in the rear corner seat. If available legroom in the third row is limited to short passengers, it can be a deal-breaker. Safety equipment and warranties are also essential, especially for a vehicle used primarily to transport a family. Interior design, high-quality materials, advanced technology features, and cargo space are important in a luxury SUV and can easily push the window sticker north of $100,000.

The Lincoln Navigator Black Label comes with unlimited roadside assistance, a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, and exclusive service amenities such as a premium maintenance plan, remote service pickup and delivery, anytime car wash, and annual vehicle detailing. Customers can also earn points to use toward vehicle maintenance and more through the Lincoln Access Rewards program. The EPA-rated fuel economy for the Navigator Black Label is 16/21/18 mpg city/highway/combined.

In comparison, BMW X7 limits roadside assistance to four years, but with unlimited miles. It also falls short in the powertrain coverage by offering a lesser four-year/50,000-mile warranty, and there are no complimentary membership services.  The X7 does, however, offer slightly better fuel economy at an EPA-rated 20/25/22 mpg. Even though the 2020 BMW xDrive40i has a lot going for it, the 2020 Lincoln Navigator Black Label has more interior space, a better warranty, a higher towing limit, and exclusive membership privileges. And between these two full-size luxury SUVs, the Black Label gets our vote.

Looks good! More details?

POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS 2020 BMW X7 xDrive40i 2020 Lincoln Navigator Black Label (4×4)
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD Front-engine, 4WD
ENGINE TYPE Turbocharged I-6, alum block/head Twin-turbo 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 182.6 cu in/2,998 cc 212.9 cu in/3,489 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 11.0:1 10.0:1
POWER (SAE NET) 335 hp @ 5,500 rpm 450 hp @ 5,500 rpm*
TORQUE (SAE NET) 330 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm 510 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm*
REDLINE 7,000 rpm 6,000 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 16.5 lb/hp 13.5 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic 10-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE/LOW RATIO 3.64:1/2.33:1/ — 3.73:1/2.39:1/2.64:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Control arms, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 18.7:1 20.5:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.3 3.8
BRAKES, F; R 15.6-in vented disc; 14.6-in vented disc, ABS 13.8-in vented disc; 13.8-in vented disc, ABS
WHEELS, F;R 9.5 x 22-in; 10.5 x 22-in, cast aluminum 9.0 x 22-in cast aluminum
TIRES, F;R 275/40R22 107Y; 315/35R22 111Y Pirelli P Zero (star) 285/45R22 114H Hankook DynaPro HT (M+S)
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 122.2 in 122.5 in
TRACK, F/R 66.3/67.1 in 67.6/67.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 203.3 x 78.7 x 71.1 in 210.0 x 78.8 x 76.3 in
GROUND CLEARANCE 8.7 in 9.6 in
APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 23.1/20.5 deg 22.2/21.9 deg
TURNING CIRCLE, CURB-TO-CURB 42.8 ft 40.8 ft
CURB WEIGHT 5,530 lb 6,073 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R 47/53% 50/50%
TOWING CAPACITY 7,500 lb 8,300 lb
SEATING CAPACITY 6 7
HEADROOM, F/M/R 41.9/39.9/36.6 in 41.8/40.0/37.3 in
LEGROOM, F/M/R 39.8/37.6/33.3 in 43.9/41.1/42.3 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/M/R 60.0/58.1/47.9 in 65.2/65.1/64.2 in
CARGO VOLUME, BEH F/M/R 90.4/48.6/10.3 (est) cu ft 103.3/57.5/19.3 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 1.9 sec 2.0 sec
0-40 2.8 3.1
0-50 4.1 4.4
0-60 5.6 5.9
0-70 7.3 7.8
0-80 9.5 10.0
0-90 12.2 12.8
0-100 15.3  —
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.0 3.1
QUARTER MILE 14.2 sec @ 96.8 mph 14.5 sec @ 95.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 110 ft 125 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg) 0.77 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.3 sec @ 0.67 g (avg) 27.8 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,500 rpm 1,600 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $74,895 $98,430
PRICE AS TESTED $96,895 $98,850
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes Yes/Yes
AIRBAGS 10: Dual front, f/m side, f/m/r curtain, front knee 8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, rear outboard belts
BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles 6 yrs/70,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 4 yrs/Unlimited miles Unlimited
FUEL CAPACITY 21.9 gal 23.0 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 20/25/22 mpg 16/21/18 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 169/135 kWh/100 miles 211/160 kWh/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.88 lb/mile 1.08 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium Unleaded regular
*Horsepower and torque values using 93-octane fuel

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Tesla Model S Plaid Fast-Charging and Range Test: How Far Can It Go?

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When the now popular Tesla Model S electric car was first introduced in 2012, there were no Superchargers available. Today, there are 25,000 Tesla Superchargers around the world, and with the Model S Plaid adopting a new powertrain, Tesla was able to re-design the battery to take advantage of the third-gen 250-kW Supercharger. Despite Tesla still using the 18650 form-factor cylindrical battery cells, these now have improved chemistry to deliver higher performance and durability. (This is the fourth major chemistry improvement since the first Model S.) With it newest 100-kWh battery pack, Tesla claims the Plaid can recover 187 miles of driving range in 15 minutes of charging at a V3 Supercharger. But just how realistic is that claim in practice? 

First, a little background on charging an EV in general. Many factors are in play to determine the charging performance, from ambient temperature to battery temperature to state of charge to charging station type. As a result, charging rates do vary in practice. Lithium-ion batteries have a certain working temperature range, typically 40-130 degrees Fahrenheit, and the higher end of the range is typically conducive to rapid charging. For an electric car that has sat unplugged overnight or in cold weather, charging time is prolonged. In a Tesla, when a driver puts a Supercharger into the navigation as its destination, the car preconditions the battery pack for rapid charging before it reaches the plug.  This helps to deliver a more consistent rapid-charging experience and eases congestion at charging sites. 

The V3 Supercharger

In our testing, with a preconditioned battery pack and an ambient temperature of 71 degrees, the Tesla Model S Plaid needed 51 minutes to charge from 5 to 95 percent, which added 87 kWh. The latter figure indicates the usable battery capacity is about 97 kWh, with 3 kWh as a buffer. As shown in the charging curve, it indeed reached the 250-kW maximum V3 Supercharger rate and sustained that figure for the five minutes it took to charge from 10 to 30 percent. 

In order to take advantage of peak charging rate, showing up to a Supercharger with the Model S Plaid depleted to between zero and 5 percent of its full charge is the optimal starting point. After the peak, the charging rate gradually ramped down as the pack’s state of charge increased. (Imagine people rushing into an elevator: It’s easy when the elevator is empty, but as more people get in, it takes longer to let them find space to wiggle through.) If you’re on a road trip, 60 percent is a good point to stop charging the car and continue driving until you reach the next Supercharger. The reason is, after 60 percent, the charging rate begins to dip below 2 kWh per minute, so you may as well go to the next charging site, at least from a pure time standpoint. And hey, 18 minutes of charging time is good for another bathroom break. 

As for Tesla’s claim of adding 187 miles of range in 15 minutes of charging time, it is pretty dead-nuts accurate with a Model S Plaid. (At least with the standard 19-inch Tempest wheels.) However, this can only happen when you begin charging the car when it already has a low amount of juice remaining. And on a Model S Plaid with the more energy consumptive optional 21-inch wheels, you are looking at adding 167 miles of range in 15 minutes. 

Tesla Model S Plaid with 21-inch Arachnid wheels

SOC Time Recharged 

Energy

Recharged 

MT est range

(highway/city/)

Recharged

EPA 

est range

Recharged 

Drag Strip 

est range

5% to 30% 6 minutes +24 kWh 75/82 miles 84 miles 2.4 miles
5% to 55% 15 minutes +48 kWh 151/165 miles 167 miles 4.8 miles
5% to 60% 18 minutes +52 kWh 163/178 miles 181 miles 5.2 miles
5% to 70% 23 minutes +63 kWh 198/216 miles 219 miles 6.3 miles
5% to 80% 31 minutes +72 kWh 226/247 miles 251 miles 7.2 miles
5% to 90% 41 minutes +81 kWh 254/278 miles 282 miles 8.1 miles
5% to 95% 52 minutes +87 kWh 273/298 miles 303 miles 8.7 miles

Range: Dragstrip vs. EPA vs. MotorTrend’s Real-World Estimate

Manufacturers love to talk about their electric cars’ range to sell people on buying an EV, but in reality, range is heavily dependent on the way you drive, traffic, and weather conditions. The Model S Plaid with 21-inch wheels uses 2.5 percent of its battery to finish a quarter-mile run on a racing dragstrip, so in theory—we didn’t actually launch it repeatedly until its battery died—it has roughly 10 miles of range if used for 40 consecutive dragstrip runs. Tesla says the Model S Plaid with the 21s has an EPA-estimated 348 miles of range, and that is according to EPA’s conditions and using a mix of 55 percent highway and 45 percent city driving. See the range difference from different use cases there? 

We took the Tesla Model S Plaid on separate road routes for highway (70-75 mph) and city driving, then looked for the efficiency. We drove the car four times on each route, two times with air conditioning on and set to 72 degrees, and two times with it off and only the fan on.

With the ambient temperature below an average of 75 degrees, we saw 3.43 miles/kWh for city driving and 3.14 miles/kWh on the highway. Using the same EPA highway-to-city ratio, our theoretical measured range is 318 miles. 

Multiply the number with energy, and you can reveal the estimated range. For example, on a road trip, chances are you would drive mostly on a freeway or highway, so you’re looking at 305 miles of total range. However, in real life, chances are you are not driving from a fully charged pack to empty. Let’s say you recharged 72 kWh (from 5 to 80 percent): Expect about 226 miles of driving on a freeway at 70-75 mph. 

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No Yoke, the Refreshed Tesla Model S Ditches the Round Steering Wheel Entirely

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  3. No Yoke, the Refreshed Tesla Model S Ditches the Round Steering Wheel Entirely

It’s yoke or nothing for buyers of the updated electric sedan.

Despite it appearing in images pulled from Tesla’s own website, as well as making cameos in a handful of the automaker’s test cars, a traditional round steering wheel is not in the cards for the refreshed Model S electric vehicle. Instead, the brand is committing to the funky yoke-style steering device that the updated luxury sedan debuted with, which looks much like a normal steering wheel sans the upper rim. For those with a knack for pop culture, think of the steering setup used by Knight Rider‘s K.I.T.T.

Admittedly, we rather like the design of Tesla’s new tiller (admit it, it looks cool), however, we were left underwhelmed by its execution after a week of living with a so-equipped Model S Plaid. This was especially true when driving at lower speeds where the car’s quick, but not quick enough, 14.0:1 steering ratio made it difficult to complete near-full-lock turns without awkwardly fumbling for the device’s (purposely) missing upper rim out of habit. 

We’ve heard a variety of reasons for Tesla’s decision to fit every variant of the new Model S (and presumably the similarly updated Model X SUV), ranging from the company’s hope to improve visibility to the car’s gauge cluster to its desire to create a better Autopilot experience, but we have yet to hear any rumblings that the automaker has any plans to offer a traditional steering wheel as an alternative to the yoke. 

Sources within Tesla revealed the steering wheels seen fit to aforementioned 2021.5 Model S prototypes were strictly there for engineering purposes. Nevertheless, it’s clear Tesla has the resources and capability to build and offer a more traditional steering wheel for the updated Model S. While the revised EV is currently offered exclusively with the yoke, it’s possible a more typical steering wheel may find its way to the car’s cabin as an optional feature in the future. After all, Tesla moves quickly and the brand may simply decide to fast-track production of a full-rimmed steering wheel for the refreshed Model S if enough customers find the yoke more charming in theory than in practice.

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You Can Buy Ken Block’s Menacing 1977 Ford F-150 Hoonitruck

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  3. You Can Buy Ken Block’s Menacing 1977 Ford F-150 Hoonitruck

The 914-hp, Ford-GT-engined Ford pickup premiered in Gymkhana 10.

The widebody F-150 pickup truck premiered in Gymkhana 10, where the tire slayer wreaked havoc through Route 66 in Shamrock, Texas. He topped off his tire-slaying tour by drifting around a drove of artfully staged rusted vintage cars. But the career highlight of this custom Ford F-150 came when it conquered the allegedly most dangerous road in China, the Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road located within Tianmen Mountain National Park.

Peeking through the hood is a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 EcoBoost pulled from the Ford GT Le Mans race car. The modified engine develops 914 horsepower and 702 lb-ft of torque, routed to all four wheels via a Sadev six-speed gearbox. The customization includes a tube frame chassis and military-grade aluminum bodywork, finished in the signature matte black and gray color scheme. It has a carbon fiber dashboard, Recaro race seats, FordPass remote start, and a backup camera.

The raucous Hoonitruck comes fitted with a uniquely designed set of Fuel Block forged beadlock wheels painted in gloss white and rides on ST/KW suspension. Because the widebody flares make the pickup truck just over 79 inches wide, an issue during transportation. Detroit Speed in Mooresville, North Carolina, designed the Hoonitruck to be highly modular. If any problem arises or in case of an accident, the truck can be taken apart and rebuilt on-site.

Detroit Speed built the hardcore F-150 pickup from the ground up, and it reportedly cost upwards of $1.5 million to bring to fruition. LBI Limited is handling the sale, and the asking price is a mind-boggling $1.1 million—a decent discount, we suppose? Additional parts included in the listing are an extra 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine, wheels, body panels, and suspension components.

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