2019 Lincoln Nautilus Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
February 26, 2019

Buying tip

The other American entry in this premium crossover market, the 2018 Cadillac XT5 boasts a more aggressive styling character. With unparalleled

It's still a Lincoln MKX (so it's still a Ford Edge), but the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus manages to improve in the most important ways, with more style and technology.

The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus pitches the former MKX back into the cars-with-real-names class. It’s a mid-size, two-row crossover SUV that shares some running gear with the Ford Edge, but with healthy dollops of luxury trim, especially in its top trims.

Sold in Standard, Select, Reserve, and Black Label trims, the 2019 Nautilus earns a 6.6 out of 10, with safety ratings yet to come. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With a more lushly outfitted cockpit and a more handsome front end, the Nautilus swims more convincingly alongside vehicles such as the Lexus RX and Audi Q5. It feels familiar, but the carefully appropriated bits from the Navigator and Continental wear well on its wagon body, particularly at the front end. Inside, the story isn’t quite as convincing; better finishes have been applied to the dash, but the center stack still wears plenty of plastic and looks a half-generation off the pace.

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All Nautilus crossovers sport turbocharged engines, and the base turbo-4 doesn’t struggle for breath at all. It’s still swamped by the twin-turbo V-6 that spins out 335 horsepower when it’s ordered on upper trim levels; there’s enough torque in that engine to snap off quick passes and settle back into a relaxed cruise before a passenger can figure out how to change audio sources on the touchscreen interface. An 8-speed automatic clicks off invisible shifts, and a coddling ride lets bumps roll off the Nautilus’ back. This Lincoln seems blissfully unaware that a place called the Nurburgring even exists.

The Nautilus doles out ample space to five adults, but lavishes 22-way power seats on those in front in top versions. The second row has shoulder room to spare, but lacks plush padding or firm bolsters, though cargo space is swell and small-item storage abounds.

All Nautilus crossovers get automatic emergency braking, but even Black Label buyers will pay for a surround-view camera system and adaptive cruise control. Every Nautilus comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, touchscreen infotainment, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and power features; Lincoln adds lovely touches as the price grows, including a 19-speaker Revel audio system, a panoramic roof, perforated leather upholstery, 21-inch wheels, and LED headlights.

 

 
7

2019 Lincoln Nautilus

Styling

The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus adopts a more handsome front end and more lush cabins.

While the Nautilus name is new, the vehicle it’s attached to isn’t, really. This is essentially a facelifted version of last year’s Lincoln MKX, and as such, it already feels very familiar. We think it’s worth a point above average inside and out for a 7 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The new front and rear fascias take heavy inspiration from Lincoln’s most recently redesigned models—the Continental and Navigator—with prominent rectangular grilles with the same chrome-laden pattern featured on the Nautilus’ larger siblings.

The shapely headlights look like carbon copies of the Continental’s lamps, but feel like a more natural fit to a vehicle the Nautilus’ size. They sit above a sliver of glass that houses the turn signals—this look comes from the Navigator, although we aren’t as certain it works here. The slim turn signals look too much like whiskers and give the front of a car a borderline feline appearance. In back, Nautilus-specific changes are kept to a minimum—that’s a good thing, since the MKX was always most attractive from behind.

In the category of things that haven’t changed sits the Nautilus’ profile. That’s not unusual for a mid-cycle update like this, but it’s also not a bad thing. The long, low profile works well with the new front and rear clips to the point that it’s even more difficult to connect the dots back to the mainstream Ford Edge on this car than on the MKX.

The cabin update isn’t quite as successful. While Lincoln attached new and improved materials to the seats, dash, and doors, it seems to have forgotten the center stack, which is still just a large sheet of hard, black plastic with a touchscreen in the middle. It’s a wart on the face of an otherwise attractive interior. In Black Label trim, the Nautilus wears a deep-red Gala theme, or a white-and-black Chalet look, or chestnut-trimmed Thoroughbred. Yes, it all sounds a little much—until you sit inside a cockpit dressed full-tilt and realize what Lincoln can do for the right budget.

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2019 Lincoln Nautilus

Performance

The 2019 Nautilus offers silent, swift, even-keeled performance.

As far as new names go, the Nautilus fits Lincoln’s mid-size crossover rather well. It does a fair job of mimicking the swift, silent, even-keeled performance of its submarine namesake—and in distancing itself from the related Ford Edge.

We think it’s worth a 7 for its drivetrains and above-grade ride. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Lincoln outfits the Nautilus with either a turbo-4 or a twin-turbo V-6, with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 comes standard on all models, and generates 250 hp and 280 lb-ft with a resolute, linear feel above 1,500 rpm. It’s tough to say how many cylinders are working under the hood, since it’s swift and since Lincoln damps drivetrain noise extensively, as it should in a prestige-branded vehicle with a powertrain more commonly encountered in economy cars.

It’s not a blazing piece of gear, though. The turbo-4 Nautilus checks in at more than 4,100 pounds in front-drive form, more than 4,300 pounds with all-wheel drive.

Better by a couple of seconds in the 0-60 mph trot, we estimate, is the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6. It pumps out 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, enough to send a shiver of torque steer to the front until available all-wheel drive figures it out and shifts some action to the rear wheels. Both engines do an admirable job of tuning out engine noise and vibration that could emanate from direct injection and/or stop/start.

With its new 8-speed automatic, the Nautilus cruises through its gears without a hitch. It’s well-sorted, with a knack for picking the right gear during mountain passes or interstate cruises. It controls gear selection through push-buttons on the dash, which can take some getting used to. Fitted with a Class II hitch, the Nautilus can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

The Nautilus carries over the front-strut/independent rear suspension from the MKX, with a selection of all-season tires ranging from 18 to 21 inches. Adaptive steering on Black Label models carries over a system formerly found on the Ford Edge; it uses a steering-wheel hub motor to dial in lots of assist at parking-lot speeds, and tapers it off as the pace quickens.

Don’t put too much thought into how the Nautilus does its deep knee-bends, though. It’s plushly tuned, remarkable in the way it settles down after big highway bumps, but not much concerned with crisp cornering or firmly damped ride motions. It’s no X6 or GLE Coupe; ask it about Nurburgring lap times and if it could speak, the Nautilus would wave off the question: “Who cares?”

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7

2019 Lincoln Nautilus

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 Nautilus commands attention with 22-way seats and decadent interior themes, but there’s room for improvement.

With the Nautilus, Lincoln has reskinned one of its more successful packages. A roomy five-passenger crossover from way back when it was the MKX (which was 2018), the Nautilus has ample space and a set of beautiful Black Label interior treatments. It could use some attention in the second row, though.

We give it a 7 out of 10 for comfort and quality. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

By the spec sheet, the 2019 Nautilus checks in at 190 inches long, and it rides on a 112.2-inch wheelbase. As it was in its MKX years, the Nautilus remains a roomy, functional place.

In front, base and Select models have 10-way power-adjustable, heated front seats with lumbar adjustment and driver-seat memory. Base models wear synthetic leather, while all other versions get the real stuff. No matter how it’s upholstered, the Nautilus reels out lots of head and leg room for front passengers, with a flaw or two. Tall drivers may not be able to find the ideal placement of the tilt/telescoping steering wheel and the driver seat height, for example. On Reserve and Black Label models, the 22-way seats get heating and cooling and so many adjustments, it’ll take a few minutes before lift-off to settle in. Inflatable bladders tweak and tune the seats for ideal comfort, and when that’s been done, the Nautilus is good for all-day drives, supportive like a worked-in catcher’s mitt.

Front passengers also get lots of storage, from a covered bin where a shift lever might otherwise be, to shallow storage under the center console, to deep door pockets.

The second-row seats should take a note from the front. Open the rear doors and the Nautilus reveals a wide interior that holds three adults when it must, but the bottom cushions are flat and a little short. As this is a refresh, the Nautilus’ interior dimensions are identical to the MKX, which means there’s a healthy 39.6 inches of second-row leg room. Step-in height is ideal, and so are head and leg room, but long-distance comfort could be better.

The Nautilus’ second row folds totally flat, and cargo space is unchanged from its previous MKX life: It’s 68.8 cubic feet behind the front seats, 37.2 cubic feet behind the second row.

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2019 Lincoln Nautilus

Safety

The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus could use better headlights.

The NHTSA hasn't taken a look at the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus yet, so we'll hold off on a rating here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The IIHS gave the Nautilus top marks for its crash structure and standard active safety tech but said that its headlights hold it back from a Top Safety Pick award. No version of the Nautilus earned better than "Poor" in the IIHS' headlight test. 

With the 2019 Nautilus, Lincoln has added vital safety technology to its mid-size crossover plate. But some of the more advanced hardware isn’t offered on the lesser models, and it’s an extra-cost item even on the priciest versions.

All versions get standard blind-spot monitors and active lane control, as well as forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. From there, Lincoln has bundled a slew of tech features into a package it calls Co-Pilot360. It includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality and steering assist in evasive maneuvers. The bundle is limited to the Reserve and Black Label editions of the Nautilus, and even there it’s an option. It’s also an intrusive system that tries to keep the vehicle centered in its lane, and doesn’t do it smoothly. Like many of these systems, it dreads the finer, more natural movement of a car in a lane—it wants to stay absolutely in the middle, and when tapes and lane stripes go away it’s unsure of its place in the world. There’s a metaphor somewhere in the way its thinkier features deal with the real world—as well as a stiff price increase.

We’ll update this page when full  safety data surfaces.

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2019 Lincoln Nautilus

Features

Swanky Nautilus Black Label crossovers get all the goodies, but the Reserve’s a slightly less expensive way to go.

The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus comes into its own at the upper reaches of its trim walk. The two lesser trims lack for little, but the Black Label offers beautifully themed interiors—for well over $50,000, of course.

We give the 2019 Nautilus an 8 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Lincoln sells the Nautilus in four trims: Standard, Select, Reserve, and Black Label.

The base version costs $41,335, including $995 for destination and delivery. That nets drivers 10-way power heated front seats, synthetic leather upholstery, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD player, Sync3 infotainment with Bluetooth audio streaming and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, power features, automatic climate control, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, and 18-inch wheels. A rear-seat entertainment system can be purchased separately.

Swing into the $45,540 2019 Nautilus Select and Lincoln adds navigation and perforated leather seats. Options abound: a twin-turbo V-6, AWD, a panoramic roof, 20-inch wheels, heated rear seats, ash trim, and 13-speaker Revel audio with HD radio. But we’d prefer to spend a little more for the $49,870 Nautilus Reserve, which adds 22-way seats, HD radio, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, wood or aluminum trim, 20-inch wheels, and a panoramic roof. The upgrade list features safety technology such as adaptive cruise control, adaptive steering, and automatic park assist, as well as spiffy touches such as 21-inch wheels, 19-speaker Revel audio, a surround-view camera system, and LED headlights.

The most expensive $57,890 Nautilus Black Label gets 21-inch wheels, LED headlights, premium leather, 19-speaker Revel audio, and color-coordinated style themes such as Chalet and Thoroughbred. Black Label vehicles get complimentary service for the duration of the 4-year/50,000-mile warranty, which would give it an extra point here if that white-glove touch came with more popularly priced versions.

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4

2019 Lincoln Nautilus

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy isn’t much improved with the turbo-4 Nautilus.

The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus sports an EPA combined rating in the low 20-mpg range, no matter which engine you choose.

That merits a 4 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base 2.0-liter turbo-4 in the 2019 Nautilus is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined when it’s configured with front-wheel drive. With all-wheel drive, the ratings dip to 20/25/22 mpg.

V-6 versions start at 20/27/22 mpg for front-wheel drive, and slip to 19/26/21 mpg with AWD.

Lincoln doesn’t plan for any hybrid Nautilus models.

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September 11, 2018
2019 Lincoln Nautilus Reserve AWD

People are excited for this! Genuinely

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It's exciting to be part of what Lincoln is doing right now! Truly. Refined, tailored, luxurious and "I'm happy to be inside this vehicle" feeling combined with a solid price point. Lincoln has really stepped... + More »
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June 14, 2018
For 2019 Lincoln Nautilus

Lincoln just keeps getting better

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I sat in and thoroughly examined (but didn't drive) this vehicle at the Lincoln Experience Center in Newport Beach. I also own an MKC. This is a truly beautiful, exciting, elegant SUV from a company already... + More »
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$40,340
MSRP based on Standard FWD
 
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6.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 4
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