Three Land Barges: Infiniti QX56, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator

Infiniti QX56

The price of gas is rising to $5.00 and beyond, yet sales of large SUVs are up in the double digits.

In terms of increase, the Infiniti QX56 (above) has been leading the pack, with year-to-date sales up 29.6 percent! How do you figure that? It is easily the ugliest new car on the road; it’s a “dressed-up truck…ultimately assembled from Nissan’s mainline parts bin”; it handles like a pig and costs $75,000 as tested. The new Toyota Land Cruiser starts at $78,000.

The continued popularity of luxury SUVs never ceases to amaze. Sales of big trucks and SUVs were up about 15 percent in February, so the rising cost of gas doesn’t seem to be a factor.

The major reason, in my opinion: “The wealthiest 20% of Americans account for the major share of new vehicle spending, and are less affected by gas prices.” There is not only pent-up demand for these big cars; they are part of the American dream. They symbolize power and wealth. $5.00 gas may end the party for these cars, but don’t bet on it.

2012 Cadillac Escalade PlatinumNow, most readers of this blog might not salivate over a Cadillac Escalade, but if you like bling and captain’s chairs and a 9,600-pound towing capacity for your boat, it’s a good choice. If you like well-built big cars with a value proposition, look elsewhere. Consumer Reports had little good to say about it.

Escalade sales have been slipping a bit, so GM has dropped the price of the top-end Platinum models. Act now, and you can drive away in a front-drive Platinum for $79,945, or $82,495 for an AWD model. At this level, the additional $995 destination charge shouldn’t be a problem.

Lincoln is offering a $3,000 cash incentive or 0-1.9% financing on the Navigator, which may be the only reason it has sold 1,473 of them this year. The truck has not been redesigned in five years and looks awful. You’ll get about 14/20 mpg, if that makes any difference, but a lot of luxo-tech. Prices start around $58,000. You could buy the Ford Expedition, a very similar car, for nearly half that.

Bottom line: People don’t make rational decisions about cars—or about much else. Most economic predictors are generally behind the curve, because they can’t or don’t factor in the inherently emotional and culturally influenced manner in which people buy cars. We can track these decisions in terms of product preference, but it’s very tough to predict them.

Luxurious land barges are part of the American dream. Do you agree?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Infiniti QX56
Used Toyota Land Cruiser
Used Cadillac Escalade
Used Lincoln Navigator
Used Ford Expedition


  1. Out of the three above discussed models, Lincoln Navigator has been my favorite pick with its enormous interior cabin, and powerful engine specs.

  2. For the life of me I just don’t understand why people get their bowels in an uproar about buying decisions of other people. Why does something like buying land barges get so many people so mad??. Unless you are a totally bought-in environmentalist, why would one care about other peoples decisions?? As mentioned earlier in this thread we can’t judge other people’s decisions based on our mores, culture, ethos, or values. Yet, we continue to that. Are we envious or are we mad at the decision??

    I can see the point if those decisions in some way adversely affect our life style or our ability to do the things that we enjoy doing. If one is a rabid environmentalist and is concerned about using too much of a limited resource or if the operation of said vehicle somehow impairs our ability to do our life’s work, I would gladly accept that as one’s own opinion and would agree that everyone is entitled to that opinion. But what if the premise of environmentalism is flawed?? Evidence is mounting that many “facts” about climate change and carbon emissions have been doctored or outright disproven. That is a topic for another time and another thread.

    Discussions such as this are largely steeped in economics and at sometime we will have to come to grips with energy issues. Ask anyone in my state which is heavily involved in coal production, gas exploration, and chemicals what they think of the EPA’s recent ruling to pretty much kill those industries. Here the really important issue is jobs and most people here would love to have the money to buy these land barges. So the choice here is how will we be able to heat and cool our homes and will we have enough money to cram ourselves into sardine cans mandated by this current administration. So in this little part of our country we don’t worry much about what people buy, we’re more interested in how to feed our families and pay our utility bills. Ask people in Michigan, Illinois, Alabama and Tennessee what they worry about. I can pretty much guess it not what sized vehicle they choose to drive. Land barges create jobs in the millions, stimulate our pitiful economy and provide opportunities for international trade and partially offsets our trade deficit. Someone please explain to me the rage that so many people harbor about what others drive. Please educate me. I’m all ears and willing to learn.

  3. Just the other day I saw an escalade illegally parked in front of a resale shop. The skinny little 100 pound bleach blond popped out of the resale shop, hopped in the behemoth and drove away. That’s kind of the automotive equivalent of having a 100 hp tractor with a brush hog to mow a 60 foot lot.
    One of the problems is the gas guzzler tax was put in place before SUV’s were around and badly needs to be updated and enhanced. If bleachy has to pony up a 33% penalty on the sticker price and an annual federal guzzler tax of $5K or so to register it, she might think twice. The only way to really hit conspicuous consumers is in the wallet, and you have to do it big time. If they persist in the behavior anyway, at least they’ll be helping to enrich the tax coffers.

  4. My thoughts on these kind of questions remain the same. 1. There is an ass for every seat. 2. One cannot impose one’s ethos, mores, values or culture on another. 3. There is no standard of universality on how individuals should behave. 4. Don’t get yourself worked up into a lather when all semblance of rationality and logic are ignored.

    Proof of all the above can be documented with facts that people bought Edsels, Vegas, Pintos, Gremlins, Hummers, Aztecs, Prowlers, Yugos and Fieros. Tons of these rascals were purchased and I ensure you that lots of logic went into their buying decisions. Now most of us would question that logic to be sure, but the fact remains that millions of people bought these vehicles then much as they will buy the land barges featured here. Que Sera Sera.

  5. You don’t need to drive your entire living room around with you just to take the kids to the mall. These things are a blight on the American dream, not the epitome of same.

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