In Lincoln’s current all-SUV family, the midsize Nautilus occupies what might be called a middle kid: a vague middle ground where it’s overshadowed by its higher-powered siblings. The navigator is the style-defining headline, the aviator is the much-acclaimed follow-up, and the fresh-faced baby corsair fits into the most popular segment of luxury. The Nautilus has been on the road since 2019 when it debuted not as a new model but as a revision of the earlier MKX. That said, it dates back to 2016. This year, Lincoln pays a little more attention to its medium-sized, double-row entry, but in classic middle-kid fashion, that attention doesn’t go beyond what was really necessary.
To this end, the 2021 update will focus almost exclusively on the interior. (Outside there are new paint colors and a redesigned front bumper. The mechanics remain unchanged.) A redesigned dashboard takes on the horizontal architectural theme used elsewhere in the lineup, although this interior is still way behind the wow factor in terms of wow factor Navigator and the Aviator is left behind. The design and materials are also not the latest from Mercedes-Benz or Volvo. At the very least, Lincoln continues to be more adventurous than the norm with color, though this is mostly due to the premium Black Label with its two themed interiors: Chalet and Flight. However, buyers who shy away from vibrant hues and prefer the cold embrace of a Germanic grayscale palette aren’t ignored, as my test vehicle, Asher Gray-on-Ebony Nautilus Reserve shows.
In this digital world, no self-respecting luxury car can do without a big screen, and the Nautilus is getting one for 2021. The heart of the redesigned dashboard is a new horizontally aligned touchscreen with a size of 13.2 inches, which is again half the size of the mere 8-inch it is replacing. It is the largest in the Lincoln range and is standard on all fairings.
The system is running SYNC 4 and can accept wireless updates. Two functions can be displayed at the same time on the bright, razor-sharp screen, e.g. B. the m in the larger field and the music information in the smaller one. It is impressive that information from two different sources can be displayed at the same time. For example, the audio can come from the car’s satellite radio, while the m is the Waze p on a paired smartphone. The smartphone mirroring is wireless, by the way, and the two upper panels are wirelessly charged.
You can jump to important functions using a series of keyboard shortcuts at the bottom of the screen. There is a padded edge at the base that you can rest your hand on. Fortunately, Lincoln didn’t ban physical controls in search of modernity. A pair of knurled controls regulate the volume and mood, with buttons in between for audio source, searching up / down and switching the screen on / off. A row of buttons below that operate the climate system, with a large button for the fan speed. Touch the middle of this button to bring up additional climate controls on the screen.
Somewhat surprisingly, Lincoln did not use this opportunity to make the “Perfect Position” seats of all other models of the Nautilus available. These seats have an impressive range of adjustment, including separate lower leg supports for the left and right legs. However, they are also thin and tightly padded. Every body is different, but I found the optional 22-way driver’s seat to be more comfortable in this Nautilus. The range of settings includes three lumbar spine sections, an extendable lower leg support and a movable backrest. There are also several massage programs. The improved seats are equipped with heating and cooling. The standard is a 10-way driver’s seat that is only heated.
Moving into the back seat gives you plenty of knee and legroom, but the panoramic sunroof reduces headroom slightly, which can be a problem for passengers well over six feet tall. An almost flat floor makes the bench suitable for seating with three seats. There is a mixed pair of USB ports, and heated rear seats are available.
Behind the rear seats are 37.2 cubic feet of luggage space in the large cargo area and 68.8 cubic feet with the backrests folded down. Those numbers put the Lincoln’s luggage compartment towards the bigger end of the spectrum, outperforming the Lexus RX and arch-rival Cadillac XT5. The stowage in the cabin is pretty good. The center console has several cubbies, one on the top level with USB-C and USB-A ports inside, a large open one below, another on the middle level, and the usual covered container under the center armrest.
When switching to the Nautilus business model, there are no changes in the engine room, where buyers choose either a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder or a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6. The 2.0-liter has 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque and can be driven with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The 2.7-liter V6 makes 335 hp and 380 lb-ft and is AWD only. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that is now operated via Lincoln’s row of horizontal keys for the piano key.
My test sample had the 2.7, and its 380 lb-ft of torque puts some spring in this Lincoln’s crotch. There is plenty of grunt to plunge into the busy, fast-moving traffic or take a quick two-lane pass. Stepping on it with the wheel turned will allow you to speed up the torque control before the motor’s torque is diverted backwards. While this engine is powerful enough, it’s not particularly sporty – that’s not what Lincoln is aiming for here. It’s largely silent with a muffled growl only under strong throttle. The accelerator pedal is a bit sensitive in the city, but the auto-stop-start system is inconspicuous.
EPA Estimates for the V6 engine are no more than 1 mpg lower than the four-cylinder, with the V6 at 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined, and the 2.0 liter AWD at 20/25/22 mpg. The 2.0-liter front-wheel drive comes in at 23/21/26 mpg. These estimates make the four-cylinder more economical than various competitors, including the Volvo XC60 and the four-cylinder Cadillac XT5. The V6 is essentially the same as the XT5 with RX 350 and V6, although it is far more powerful. In the real world, it also went better than expected: over 150 miles, I averaged 24 mpg when driving in suburbs.
Here in New York, potholes have bloomed in the winter thaw that gave the Nautilus suspension a workout. While the dampers and bushings are successfully completing the impact, interference is still getting into the cabin, and there is sometimes a side rocking motion as well. My test car was equipped with additional damping in three modes: comfort, normal and sport. The differences between them are not so pronounced, and surprisingly, the superior body control of the sport mode did not cost any additional harshness. At the same time, exercise doesn’t seem very magical when the road turns winding. The Lincoln drives on winding country roads and is more of a laid-back cruiser than an energetic charger in any mode. However, the steering is comfortable when artificially weighted.
The Nautilus has a competitive set of standard Active Safety (Lincoln Co-Pilot360) features that include Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Warning. The available Co-Pilot360 Plus offers an extended active parking assistant, an evasive steering assistant, a 360-degree view camera with front recognition system and an additional speed control with stop-and-go capability and lane centering.
The lane centering feature, which requires a hand on the steering wheel, works well as long as the motorway is clearly marked. In addition to top-down view, the multi-view camera also has a front-facing camera that lets you look into traffic or speed when parking nearby. The camera is easy to summon with a dedicated button, but the image is disappointingly grainy.
Lincoln’s Phone As A Key feature supports the perceived modernity of the Nautilus. As the name suggests, owners can leave their key fob at home and use a paired smartphone to unlock and start their car. This function is optional with the reserve and standard with the black label.
The Nautilus costs $ 42,935 (including destination) for the standard model. The mid-range reserve starts at $ 50,405. The Black Label top trim costs $ 66,085. In addition to the additional equipment, the Black Label also offers advantages for the owner, e.g. B. Free maintenance for four years / 50,000 miles, pick-up and delivery for service and free car washes. My fully loaded reserve was $ 66,890, and the main culprits were the V6 engine and the $ 5,195 AWD (adding AWD to the 2.0 liter cost is $ 2,500). a $ 3,420 package that included Co-Pilot360 Plus, 20-inch wheels, and Phone As A Key; a monochrome package of black exterior design elements valued at $ 1,695; and the Ultra Comfort 22-way front seats for $ 1,500. The reserve probably makes the most sense in this list, although deselecting the add-ons would be a better argument for the Nautilus here. Even the Swell Turbo V6 hardly seems essential in a laid-back cruiser like this one.
“Nautilus” was the name of the US Navy’s first nuclear-powered submarine, and while this comfortable and quiet Lincoln isn’t as stealthy as this underwater ship, it doesn’t exactly require attention. The changes to the Nautilus 2021 are welcome – in view of the central importance of screen interactions in our driving lives, they are even essential. Still, this model’s personality and position vis-à-vis Lincoln’s family dynamics remain.