By Eric Peters- Lincoln is quietly establishing itself as America’s premier luxury car brand — at the expense of Cadillac, which is in real danger of losing that title (sales have been wilting for the past three years), arguably because it has been trying too hard to be what the European and Japanese luxury car brands already are.
Lincoln’s idea is to offer a counterpoint — to all of them — by not touting how quickly models like the new Nautilus can lap the Nurburgring; by giving its models names rather than alpha-numeric designations; in a word, by emphasizing luxuriousness — calmness and elegance — over flashiness and even — dare it be said? — sportiness.
What It Is
The Nautilus is Lincoln’s midsize five-passenger crossover SUV.
It replaces the MKX, which has been retired.
Prices begin at $41,335 for the base trim, which comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive.
A top-of-the-line Black Label edition with a twin-turbo V-6; all-wheel drive; Ultra Comfort massaging front seats with 22-way adjustability; a 19-speaker Revel Ultima premium audio system; and an indulgent array of concierge services, including a free cars wash whenever you need one, pickup and delivery service whenever the vehicle needs to be serviced, free annual detailing and membership to a members-only restaurant club costs $57,890.
In between are Select and Reserve trims, starting at $45,540 and $49,870 respectively.
The Nautilus shares some of its mechanical underpinnings with the previous MKX but is otherwise an all-new model.
It’s beautiful and practical.
It’s soft and powerful.
AWD is available with either engine.
What’s Not So Good
The standard four-cylinder engine’s highway mileage (26 mpg) is actually lower than the highway mileage achieved by the optional — and more powerful — turbocharged V-6 (27 mpg).
It has a modest towing capacity (3,500 pounds), even with the V-6.
Wireless phone charging is available, but it’s optional.
Under the Hood
The Lincoln’s standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine has 250 horsepower and a stout 280 foot-pounds of torque at a comparatively low (3,000 rpm) engine speed.
It comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. So equipped, the Nautilus can get from zero to 60 mph in about 7 seconds.
Front-wheel drive is standard, but you can select an all-wheel drive system, which has the ability to automatically disengage itself when not needed. This decreases rolling resistance and wear and tear on the components over time. Most AWD systems are full-time, meaning they are always on, even when not needed.
A 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 335 horsepower is available and can be paired with or without the AWD system.
Equipped with this engine — one of the most powerful engines available in this class — the Nautilus can get to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, making it one of the quickest vehicles in its class.
On the Road
You can get where you’re headed in a hurry — if you want to. But the Nautilus is such a pleasant place to spend time that you may find yourself looking forward to your commute, and taking your time.
Exterior perimeter lights illuminate automatically at your approach. Then the cabin lights gently rise and beckon. Close the door and the outside world is silenced and set aside by the acoustic-laminated glass. Turn the massaging seats on; select your favorite playlist; and let the Revel audio system transport you.
If everyone were to have a Nautilus, no one would have road rage.
At the Curb
The Nautilus falls in between the Lexus RX 350 and Audi Q5 in terms of overall length but manages to have more first- and second-row legroom (42.8 and 39.6 inches, respectively), and much more cargo capacity, both behind its second row (37.2 cubic feet) and with the second row folded (68.8 cubic feet).
For reference, the very popular Lexus RX 350 has 18.4 cubic feet of space behind its second row and 56.3 cubic feet with the back seats folded down.
All trims come standard with a hand-stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel and a configurable 12.3-inch LCD instrument panel.
The available massaging seats are a feature most rivals don’t even offer.
Just about every new car has keyless entry, but what if you were to lose your keys? You can gain entry to the Nautilus via the exterior keypad, a feature only offered by Lincoln.
The Nautilus can also steer itself around a potential accident — when equipped with the optionally available Evasive Steering Assist. It’s part of the Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver-assist technologies.
Another unusual feature is the factory-installed Waze app, which can alert you to radar traps along your route, as well as accidents and roadwork. This app has been around for a couple of years, but the Nautilus is the first to offer it integrated with the vehicle’s factory infotainment system, as opposed to a smartphone app.
The Bottom Line
Sometimes the loudest guy in the room doesn’t get all the attention. Nor should he.