The Car Connection Lincoln Nautilus Overview
The Lincoln Nautilus is the luxury automaker's two-row, mid-size crossover that was new for 2019.
Although it's a new name for Lincoln, the Nautilus is a refresh of the automaker's old MKX crossover that was updated in 2016.
The Nautilus is refreshed for 2021 with a revised dashboard design, the latest Sync 4 infotainment system with a new 13.2-inch screen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, over-the-air updates, and a reworked front fascia.
MORE: Read our 2021 Lincoln Nautilus review
With the Nautilus, Lincoln has a rival for luxury crossovers such as the Lexus RX 350, Acura RDX and MDX, Cadillac CT5, Buick Enclave, and Volvo XC60.
The new Lincoln Nautilus
The Lincoln Nautilus was launched in 2018 as a mild update to the MKX, which was retired.
The Nautilus' nose and grille are borrowed from the Navigator and Continental to bring the crossover into Lincoln's current design philosophy. A 2021 refresh changes the lower front fascia and the fog lights that sit within it.
The cabin retains the space of the MKX, but 2021 changes give it a redesigned dash with a larger screen and high-quality surfaces.
Lincoln also retired the corporate base 3.7-liter V-6 in favor of a 2.0-liter turbo-4, which makes 250 hp (up from 245 at launch). The uprated 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6 makes 335 hp and both engines are paired exclusively to 8-speed automatic transmissions. Front-wheel drive is standard on base models, and all-wheel drive is optional with the base engine, standard on the uprated engine.
On the tech front, Lincoln has added a 12.3-inch instrument cluster display, just like on the Continental and Navigator. A pair of 22-way front seats and a Revel audio system with as many as 19 speakers are both available.
Standard active safety systems include active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and automatic emergency braking. Also available are adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, automatic parking, and steering assist for evasive maneuvers.
For 2020, Lincoln added a gesture-controlled power tailgate and dropped one trim level from the lineup.
Lincoln Nautilus history
The MKX was originally going to be called Aviator when it was released, a name that was available after the Ford Explorer-based Lincoln that used it was discontinued. Instead, the crossover got its three-character badge, as at the time Lincoln was transitioning to a letter-based naming scheme, having recently renamed the Zephyr the MKZ.
Aside from the different grille and trim, the MKX's similarities to the Edge were easy to see from the outside, but the Lincoln looked significantly different on the inside, with satin-nickel and wood trim as well as upgraded upholstery. The MKX was also significantly quieter, with more sound-deadening material and an acoustic windshield.
The MKX had an amazing feature set, even when compared against the segment benchmark, the Lexus RX 350. In a single trim, the MKX came with standard perforated leather heated-and-cooled seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and rear park assist, among many other features. Options (some of them in packages) include heated rear seats, DVD entertainment, adaptive headlights, and a power liftgate. An EasyFold remote seat-folding feature was offered, and the MKX is also available with the long Vista Roof, as offered in the closely related Ford Edge. All MKX models had two rows of seating and decent space for five adults, though cargo space wasn't quite as ample as in some other crossover models.
Power was provided by the same V-6 engine as in the Edge, with a 6-speed automatic transmission and a choice of either front- or all-wheel drive. The driving experience wasn't very sporty, but the MKX handled quite well for such a heavy vehicle. Ride quality was as well—firm enough to yield good driver control but not so soft as to be bouncy and wallowy, like many Lincolns of the past.
Ford's Sync system, which permits voice-activated interfacing with cellphones, media players, the navigation system, radio, and other devices, became available in 2008. It was standard on the second-generation MKX, which arrived for the 2011 model year with refined styling inside and out, and slightly better performance from a retuned suspension.