2020 Lincoln Nautilus

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
October 31, 2019

Buying tip

With some active safety features like automatic braking and tech like Apple CarPlay standard, we won’t blame you for getting the cheapest Nautilus

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus looks great and offers impressive standard features, but doesn’t quite live up to the luxurious standards of its rivals.

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus puts a new name and face on an aging luxury crossover SUV with good results. Offering lots of space, power, and impressive features, the Nautilus competes with more performance-minded rivals and falls somewhat short in handling, but its ride and features excel. 

We give it 7.0 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020, the Nautilus Reserve and Black Label get a foot-operated power liftgate as standard.

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Ditching the old wing-like front grille last year, the Nautilus wears updated styling that brings it in line with the new Aviator, Continental, and Navigator, and the result is a success. A sleek, muscular outline pairs well with chrome accents and a full-width taillight treatment, making this one of the better-looking and more reserved SUVs in its class. The interior hasn’t been freshened as thoroughly, which is a disappointment, as it feels older and less refined when compared with newer rivals.

A pair of turbocharged engines – one inline-4 and one V-6 – make up the powertrain options and push out up to 335 horsepower through front- or all-wheel-drive. An 8-speed automatic is smooth and hardly noticeable. The Nautilus isn’t sporty by anyone’s definition, but it does absorb road imperfections with quiet confidence. Gas mileage is average, ranging from 21 to 23 mpg overall.

The 2020 Nautilus is comfortable and spacious, but the second row lacks the plush padding and firm bolsters of the front thrones. Cargo space is plentiful, as is small-item storage throughout.

Available in three versions, the Nautilus ranges from good-value near-luxury crossover to downright opulent Black Label. It’s best configured in its mid-priced form. With standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital gauge cluster, leather upholstery, and some active safety features like automatic emergency braking, the base $42,035 Nautilus misses out on V-6 power; choose that engine in the Nautilus Reserve and the price rises to $55,630. Those who do choose the $64,795 Black Label are treated to fine leather, a panoramic roof, 19-speaker Revel audio, and 21-inch wheels among other creature comforts.

7

2020 Lincoln Nautilus

Styling

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus looks good as ever, but base interiors don’t feel as luxurious as they could.

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus features a fresh face that distracts from a cabin that hasn’t made much progress. We give the Nautilus a 7 out of 10 for style.

Borrowing from the Navigator, Aviator, and Corsair, the 2020 Nautilus wears Lincoln’s new front-end design, and the results are a hit. Elsewhere on the exterior, details have been freshened up, and the athletic shape looks better than ever. We especially like the full-width taillight design, which is bright and gives the Nautilus a broad stance.

The interior, however, has hardly changed. That’s a shame considering the cabin design and quality of Lincoln’s newer models. A center-mounted screen is flanked by a pushbutton shifter and other various controls, but the overall look and feel is more “nice Ford” than true Lincoln. In the face of newer and more prestigious competition, an aging interior isn’t going to cut it for many buyers.

Thankfully, the Black Label trim adds intrigue in the form of unique interior themes that include deep red leather or chestnut-trimmed black. If you’re willing to shell out for the top model, it’s one of our favorite luxury SUV interior treatments, and it goes far to upgrade the look of the Nautilus cabin.

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7

2020 Lincoln Nautilus

Performance

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus is comfortable, quiet, and accelerates confidently—so long as you choose the twin-turbo V-6.

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus offers quiet, confident acceleration that suits its character well. It’s not sporty at all, but we don’t mind. It earns a of 7 out of 10 here. 

The base Nautilus gets a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, plenty even for an SUV of this size. Power arrives in a linear fashion above 1,500 rpm, and Lincoln heavily damps the engine noise—it’s difficult to say exactly how many cylinders are at work. Front-wheel drive is standard while all-wheel drive is optional on this engine. 

An 8-speed automatic is standard too, no matter which Nautilus you select. The automatic has hitch-free shifts and has a talent for choosing the proper gear on the interstates and in the mountains. Its pushbutton controls take time to get used to.

It spins out ample power, but the 2020 Nautilus also has ample curb weight. it checks in at more than 4,100 pounds as a front-driver, while all-wheel drive adds another couple hundred pounds. The Nautilus can town up to 3,500 pounds when fitted with the proper hitch.

Those who are looking for a bit more grunt will want the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 shared with the Ford Edge ST, making 335 hp and 380 lb-ft in this application. That hustles the Nautilus along to highway speeds promptly, and with standard all-wheel drive, it’s the engine we’d have, though it sends a quiver of torque steer through the Nautilus’ front end. 

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.

While its suspension design hasn’t changed since the introduction of the MKX, the Nautilus handles road imperfections with aplomb, settling down after deep knee-bending bumps rapidly. With a suspension composed of front struts and an independent rear end, and shod with 18-inch to 21-inch tires, the 2020 Nautilus doesn’t have a hint of sportiness even on the twistiest roads. It’s best as a long-distance cruiser, and in that arena it excels. 

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7

2020 Lincoln Nautilus

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus is roomy, comfortable, and offers plenty of storage space, but material quality shows its age.

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus offers plenty of comfort, but its quality shortcomings are a result of relative age. We give it 7 out of 10 here for superb front seats and for storage space.

At 190 inches long, the Nautilus is a big SUV compared to its contemporaries from Germany but offers only five seats inside. Its exterior size translates to acres of interior space, and while the standard front seats are plenty comfortable and adjustable 10 ways, the rear bench lacks the same cushioning and bolstering. Optional 22-way power seats on the Reserve and Black Label models add cooling as well as the standard heat and are some of our favorite luxury vehicle seats. Massage functions are available too, and welcome on long drives.

Plenty of storage cubbies exist throughout, both on the center console and in the form of deep door pockets. Lincoln carves out 37.2 cubic feet behind the second row, while that number expands to 68.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat. No third row is available; that’s the mission of the lovely 2020 Aviator.

While material quality is generally good for the design’s relative age, it’s not up to the snuff of Lincoln’s newer models.

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2020 Lincoln Nautilus

Safety

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus boasts impressive safety scores—but its headlights cost it a title.

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus boasts great safety scores and standard active features as well as some optional tech, but the IIHS says it needs better headlights. We give it 8 out of 10 here.

Both the NHTSA and the IIHS agree that the Nautilus performs well in crash tests. The NHTSA gives it perfect scores in every category minus a four-star rollover rating from the federal government. The IIHS says it’s “Good,” except for a “Poor” headlight rating. It’s a problem that has plagued many crossover SUVs, but is especially disappointing considering the Nautilus received a whole new front end just last year.

Thankfully, vital safety tech like automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors are standard on every Nautilus. Other safety features are bundled in packages on higher trims, including adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, steering assist in evasive maneuvers, and more.

Outward vision is okay in the Nautilus, but we’d pay for the surround-view camera system and its extra margin of safety.

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2020 Lincoln Nautilus

Features

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus is well-equipped, but the Reserve twin-turbo stands out.

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus is well-equipped in base form, and lavish at the top end, but you’ll have to decide if top trims are worth the price of entry. We give it 9 out of 10 for features, service coverage, and infotainment.

The Nautilus comes in three trims for 2020 instead of four like last year. The Select model is gone; base, Reserve, and Black Label remain.

The base $42,035 Nautilus gets 10-way power seats, synthetic leather, touchscreen infotainment with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic climate control, a digital gauge cluster, 18-inch wheels, a power rear liftgate, and active safety tech like automatic braking and active lane control.

The $49,495 Nautilus Reserve adds 22-way seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, a panoramic roof, perforated leather seats, satellite navigation, 20-inch wheels, wood trim, and more. Adaptive cruise control, automatic park assist, a surround-view camera system, and other safety features are available, as are bigger wheels, a 19-speaker Revel stereo, and LED headlights. We’d option this to $55,630 with the available twin-turbo V-6 and AWD.

The $64,795 Nautilus Black Label trim is top-of-the-line, and includes a choice of three interior themes, all of which have a distinct color scheme and fine leather, wood, and metal trim. It also gets 21-inch wheels, LED headlights, and that excellent 19-speaker Revel audio system as standard.

The Nautilus warranty covers the car for 4 years/50,000 miles, and owners can schedule pickup and delivery for service calls, a nice touch that offsets the standard maintenance offered by rivals on their SUVs.

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2020 Lincoln Nautilus

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus manages only average fuel economy.

The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus is a portly crossover SUV, and fuel economy suffers as such. We give it 4 out of 10 here.

The standard turbo-4 fares best in the mileage department, managing 21 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined with front-wheel drive and 20/25/22 mpg with all-wheel drive.

With standard all-wheel drive, the twin-turbo V-6 quaffs more gas, putting up figures of 19/26/21 mpg. Both engines require only regular fuel, bringing the average cost below $2,000 for all models.

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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 9
Fuel Economy 4
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