Lincoln Nautilus Review: A Lot of Luxury for the Price
With the MKX – now the Nautilus — providing much of its SUV revenue, you have to wonder why Lincoln decided to change the name of its front-line mid-sized SUV as it kicked off a new sales year (2019)? That’s right; the automaker did away with the name that had a letter group and replaced it with the name of a jet-powered cousin to a clam. Now, if only BMW or Audi would take a chance with real names – not digits – since real names, even mollusks, are more interesting.
It’s not that there’s anything particularly remarkable about the Nautilus, that sort of cute clam-cousin that propels itself around with its form of turbocharging. Indeed, it looks a little weird as you watch it go back and forth by taking in water through its gill slits and discharging out a discharge toward the rear.
Wait a moment, maybe that’s it. Perhaps that is why Lincoln rebranded and used the name for the mid-sized Lincoln SUV. The name indeed is a change from its former alphabet soup title that Lincoln has been using for about the last 20 years.
With all of that said, let’s look more closely at the Nautilus. Last year, under its former name, MKX, the mid-sized SUV was a big seller, providing Lincoln with a good portion of its revenue. This year, with its new name and plenty of customer interest, the new model remains an integral part of Lincoln’s profit structure. According to sales data for February, sales for the Nautilus were up 27 percent, primarily due to its changed name and redesign. The significant increase stands in contrast to other data that indicates that a sales slowdown may have begun. (Now, it is also possible slower-than-normal sales in February were due to abnormal cold and snows in the center of the country; colder-than-normal weather in the Southeast, along with torrential rains, and huge West Coast weather issues.)
Let’s face it; the Nautilus is already a best-seller for Lincoln. What is attracting buyers? From a recent look-see, Nautilus buyers are interested in, among other things, its ride comfort. Lincoln ride engineers implemented new suspension bushings and adaptive dampers to provide the Nautilus’ driver and passengers with a more refined experience on various roadway surfaces and conditions – dry, wet, cold, or snowy. Everything is more controlled and comfortable.
There are times, especially when you are doing some backcountry running when it seems the Nautilus might want to get a little tippy – a signature of a vehicle with a high center of gravity. Well, the parts that enhance the ride and handling also take care of the Nautilus’ natural tendency toward body roll. This is when you admire the engineering that went into the packaging that kept you safe. It is this type of engineering that has you thanking the guys who think safety is cooler than letting it all hang out in a corner
Not only has the suspension undergone extensive tweaking, but the engine lineup also has, as well. The older model, MKX – twin to the Ford Edge – had only a 3.7-liter V-6 available. The result was a vehicle that offered reasonable power and economy. But, you also had the vague feeling that things could have been better.
The engineering team had the same thoughts, so they added and tweaked the two engine choices, Nautilus’ standard, 245-horsepower, 2.4-liter twin-turbo four and its optional 2.7-liter V-6, also a twin turbo. The 2.7-liter cranks out a potent 335 horsepower, while the four puts out still respectable 245 horsepower. Both engines deliver their power to an eight-speed transmission that quietly and efficiently takes the engine’s power and delivers it to the wheels.
All told, the performance of the Nautilus is excellent with more than enough power to take care of just about any situation that you might run across
Any driver should be easily able to find a comfortable position with the seat offering more than enough thigh, hip, and back support. One thing that was extremely valuable, especially after hours behind the wheel, was the ability to turn on back massage to relieve the strain. Frankly, the UltraComfort front seats with their 22-position capability mean that any driver or passenger should be comfortable.
A generous 12.3-inch adjustable, touchscreen gauge cluster gives the operator more than enough information. Meantime, located in the top center of the dash panel, is a second configurable touchscreen for the infotainment system. This touchscreen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The touchscreen can also access a range of useful apps.
Meanwhile, up to three passengers can use the bench-style, second-row seat, though, the middle passenger might find it a bit snug if a couple of rather big people sit back there are the same time.
For two passengers, there’s plenty of head, leg, thigh, and hiproom. Indeed, since the Nautilus is just a tad over 15-feet long from fascia to the rear end, there should be plenty of space available for the front and rear passengers. If you need to move cargo, you have up to 111 cubic feet of room with the rear seats folded away. Even with the seats in place and five riding, you still have 37 cubic feet of space available for more than one overnight bag.
Overall, the interior is quite good. The seats, as noted, are spacious and supportive, providing more than enough hip, back, thigh, and shoulder support. The front seats also offer auto heating and cooling for winter and summer comfort. As for the upholstery, Lincoln has combined Alcantara suede door inserts with leather upholstery for a high-quality interior look and feel. The interior also provides you added comfort as the front seats are auto-heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. Moving to the back, a hands-free lift gate means that you can open the rear gate even with your hands full of groceries.
Like the Navigator, there are four price points, the Standard, Select, Reserve, and Black Label. At each level, you get more. For example, the Standard, with a suggested retail of $41,335, includes the turbocharged 2.0-liter four and front-drive. The wheels are 18-inch painted alloys. The standard equipment includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping, cloth rear, and heated front seats. The sound system features 10 speakers with a CD player and MP3. The SYNC 3 infotainment system includes an eight-inch touchscreen.
The $45,540 Select adds leather upholstery trim, a voice-activated NAV system, and lighting improvements, available all-wheel drive and an available engine upgrade.
At $49,870, the Reserve upgrades the wheels to 20-inch machined aluminum. The Reserve also offers a panoramic roof with a power sunshade, heated and ventilated front seats and a 13-speak Revel audio system.
At $57,890, the Black Label is the top-of-the-line. This model offers 21-inch aluminum wheels, Venetian leather seats, and the 19-speaker Revel audio system. There is also a host of concierge services and an extended maintenance plan, and more.
The Lincoln Nautilus is an excellent choice if you are looking for a more luxurious SUV. Granted, it only holds five in a two-plus-three configuration. But, if you think about it, how many times do you carry more than one passenger, especially when you are on a long trip.
Though it may seem as if the Nautilus is a bit pricey, when you consider the competition, the Cadillac XT-5, the Mercedes GLC, the Lexus RX, BMW’s X3, and Audi’s Q5, the Nautilus fits right in. Indeed, at the lower end of the scale, it does lead them by a bit. Some of the many features of the Nautilus you won’t find on the competition, either. For example, there’s the 360-degree camera and the 180-degree camera, both integrated into the vehicle’s safety systems. And, there’s even a small feature, folding side mirrors, that isn’t a real necessity, but it is great to have. Little touches like the mirrors are what sticks in the minds of buyers, so we think the Nautilus will do well.
If we were in the market for a mid-sized SUV/Crossover, the Nautilus would be at the top of the list. It makes sense.