2021 Lincoln Nautilus

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
March 14, 2021

Buying tip

The Nautilus Reserve model offers some desirable features and is the gateway to the likable twin-turbo V-6.

features & specs

Black Label AWD
Reserve AWD
Reserve FWD
MPG
19 city / 25 hwy
MPG
20 city / 25 hwy
MPG
21 city / 26 hwy
MSRP
$65,090
MSRP
$51,905
MSRP
$49,410

The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus is calm, smooth, and offers good power, but it makes no attempt to be sporty.

What kind of car is the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus is a mid-size luxury crossover SUV that shares its platform with the Ford Edge. It competes with luxury SUVs from around the world, including the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac XT5, Lexus RX, and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class.

Is the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus a good car?

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The Nautilus rides an aging platform, but with an updated interior. Lacking a focus on sportiness, it works as a luxurious crossover SUV. Credit the elegant looks, space, and peppy turbocharged power. We rate it a 7.2 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus?

Lincoln updates the Nautilus’ interior for 2021, with a new dashboard design, and a new infotainment system with a larger screen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and over-the-air updates. The lower front fascia also gets a new design, and some equipment has shifted by model.

The Nautilus comes with front- or all-wheel drive, with a choice of two turbocharged engines, and in Standard, Reserve, or Black Label trims. 

All models get an attractive design with Lincoln’s rectangular corporate face and an athletic stance highlighted by chrome trim. The cabin uses a new horizontal design for the dash with a 13.2-inch touchscreen. Soft-touch materials, real wood and aluminum trim, and synthetic or real leather upholstery create an inviting, elegant ambiance. 

The base 2.0-liter turbo-4 makes 250 hp and provides plenty of pep, with a 0-60 mph time under seven seconds. The upgrade twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6 increases output to 335 hp and cuts the 0-60 mph time to below six seconds. Both work through a smooth and responsive 8-speed automatic transmission, and both are subdued by Lincoln’s generous use of sound deadener. Fuel economy isn’t much different between engines. The turbo-4 tops out at 23 mpg combined, while the twin-turbo V-6 gets 21 mpg combined.

Lincoln outfits the Nautilus with wheels sized from 18 to 21 inches. Thanks to adaptive dampers, even models with the big wheels manage a smooth ride. The Nautilus’ numb, slow steering saps any sportiness, which is a strength of several rivals. 

Inside, the 2021 Nautilus is spacious. Front-row occupants sit on well padded and supportive seats, and rear-seat occupants have good room in all dimensions. Cargo space is useful, too.

How much does the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus cost?

The Nautilus starts at $42,395 in Standard trim. It comes standard with front-wheel drive and the turbo-4, plus synthetic leather upholstery, heated power front seats, a digital instrument cluster, a 13.2-inch touchscreen, a power liftgate, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The top-line Black Label model gets all-wheel drive and the twin-turbo V-6 and starts at $66,085.

Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors. Safety options include adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, and automatic parking.

Where is the Lincoln Nautilus made?

In Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

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2021 Lincoln Nautilus

Styling

The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus cuts an athletic shape on the outside and oozes luxury on the inside.

Is the Lincoln Nautilus a good-looking car?

Lincoln has settled in with a corporate face that works and it’s well integrated on the 2021 Nautilus. It masks an older but stylish design on the outside, and the updated cabin is luxurious. We rate the Nautilus a 7 out of 10 for its look inside and out.

The Nautilus’ grille features a rectangular shape with a tab at the bottom, chromed mesh inside, and the Lincoln symbol front and center. It’s flanked by thin LED headlights above thinner turn signals. The lower front fascia is revised with LED fog lights that now appear as an extension of the lower air intake instead of sitting in chromed housings of their own.

The rest of the design sports an athletic shape with gills below the side mirrors, chromed trim around the windows, and a chrome strip below the doors. A full-width taillight design enhances the SUV’s broad stance, as do the dual exhaust tips. 

Inside, the Nautilus gets a new horizontal dashboard design. It’s stepped from the middle to the top with contrasting colors. The new 13.2-inch touchscreen rises from that middle section and appears well integrated. Below it sit gear selector buttons you press like piano keys to shift. The cabin’s high quality materials enhance the luxury.

Black Label cabins look decidedly upscale with interior themes to play off the exterior paint, each with its own wood and colors. 

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7

2021 Lincoln Nautilus

Performance

The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus doesn’t pretend to be sporty, but it is quick and comfortable.

The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus is quiet and quick, without a hint of sportiness. We rate it a 7 out of 10 here for its confident acceleration and smooth ride. 

Is the Lincoln Nautilus AWD?

The Nautilus comes standard with front-wheel drive and offers all-wheel drive as an option for the base engine. The upgrade engine comes standard with AWD.

How fast is the Lincoln Nautilus?

The Nautilus is about luxury, not sportiness, a trait that is reflected in its acceleration and handling. 

The base turbo-4 spins out  250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Its power arrives quickly and Lincoln’s extraordinary sound-deadening measures make it quiet. The 0-60 mph time is likely in the high-six-second range, and with standard front-wheel drive we detect some torque steer on hard starts. 

The available 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 from the Ford Edge ST makes 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, which cuts the 0-60-mph sprint to about six seconds and offers prompt highway passing. 

Both engines are hooked to an 8-speed automatic that shifts smoothly and chooses a gear low enough to maintain power and high enough for smooth, drama-free driving. Opt for the S (sport) mode on the pushbutton shifter and the higher revs make power easier to access. Owners can use the Nautilus to tow up to 3,500 pounds with the optional towing package.

For a luxury vehicle without sporty pretentions, the Nautilus has surprisingly hefty steering. Here, however, it combines with a slow ratio to create a numbness that saps road feel.

Tire sizes range from 18 to 21 inches and buyers can get standard or adaptive dampers. With either setup, the Nautilus smothers bumps and potholes quite well, though the Black Label’s 21s can feel heavy and pound over the sharpest imperfections. The Nautilus works best as a road trip cruiser. 

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2021 Lincoln Nautilus

Comfort & Quality

The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus’ cabin is well appointed and roomy for people and cargo.

Lincoln endows the Nautilus with comfortable front seats, plenty of cargo space, and top-notch materials to earn it an 8 out of 10 for comfort and quality. 

A new dashboard gives the Nautilus a simple, elegant layout adorned with high-quality wood, metal, and soft-touch surfaces. That’s complemented by the soft leather in higher-line models, especially the Black Label, and the Revel audio system’s aluminum speaker grilles. 

The Nautilus is large for its class at 190 inches long, but it sticks with five seats instead of offering a third row. Good call. That gives front and rear passengers plenty of space, and the driver sits on heated 10- or 22-way power-adjustable seats that coddle. Cooling and massaging functions are available. 

Lincoln provides thoughtful storage bins in the cabin, including a spot under the front of the center console that’s ideal for a purse. The vehicle’s size also gives it a very useful 37.2 cubic feet of storage space behind the second row and 68.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

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2021 Lincoln Nautilus

Safety

The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus could use better headlights for an ideal safety resume.

How safe is the Lincoln Nautilus?

A combination of good safety scores, a nice set of standard safety features, and some optional safety equipment earn the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus an 8 out of 10 here.

The Nautilus crashes well in both NHTSA and IIHS crash tests. The NHTSA awards it a top five-star rating overall with four stars for rollover protection, while the IIHS gives it top “Good” scores in all crash tests but says the headlights are “Poor.”

Lincoln makes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control standard. Buyers can also get a surround-view-camera system, adaptive cruise control, steering assist for evasive maneuvers, and automatic parking.

The outward sight lines are decent in the Nautilus but we recommend the surround-view camera system whenever possible in SUVs.

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9

2021 Lincoln Nautilus

Features

Lincoln loads the Nautilus with luxuries; the more you pay the more you get.

Lincoln outfits the Nautilus for luxury and offers more amenities as you go up the scale. We rate it a 9 for its standard and optional equipment, the warranty and service bundle, and its infotainment system. 

The Nautilus comes in Standard, Reserve, and Black Label trims. Reserve buyers can get the V-6 and AWD for $5,195. AWD is a $2,500 option otherwise.

The Standard model is well equipped with synthetic leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat and an 8-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 13.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, adaptive LED headlights, a power liftgate, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Which Lincoln Nautilus should I buy?

We recommend going with the $50,405 Reserve model, which turns up the luxury with leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, navigation, a Revel 13-speaker audio system, wireless smartphone charging, and a panoramic sunroof. Add all-wheel drive and the V-6 and the price is $55,600.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Lincoln Nautilus?

The blinged out $66,085 Nautilus Black Label adds 22-way seats, a 19-speaker Revel audio system, and 21-inch wheels, plus the additional safety equipment. It also comes with a choice of color themes that include top-grade leather accented by wood and metal trim. 

Nautilus infotainment

For 2021, the Nautilus gets the Sync 4 infotainment system with a new horizontal 13.2-inch touchscreen. It has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the right side of the screen can show other information. The screen’s generous size makes it easy to tap icons, and the system reacts quickly to inputs. It’s Lincoln’s largest screen and we look forward to it appearing in other models. 

Lincoln’s warranty coverage for the Nautilus is 4 years/50,000 miles. It includes service call pickup and delivery, which is a nice perk versus other brands. 

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2021 Lincoln Nautilus

Fuel Economy

The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus doesn’t distinguish itself for fuel economy.

Is the Lincoln Nautilus good on gas?

Not particularly. The 2021 Nautilus is EPA-rated at 20 mpg city, 25 highway, 22 combined with all-wheel drive and the base engine. That earns it a 4 out of 10 here.

The 2.0-liter turbo-4 with front-wheel drive rates 21/26/23.

With the twin-turbo V-6, the Nautilus is rated at 19/25/21 mpg.

Review continues below
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$42,500
MSRP based on Standard FWD
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7.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 9
Fuel Economy 4
Compare the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus against the competition
  • 2021 Audi Q5

    6.7
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  • 2021 BMW X3

    7.3
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  • 2021 Cadillac XT5

    6.3
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  • 2021 Lexus RX

    6.5
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  • 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

    7.0
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2021 Lincoln Nautilus Pricing Insights

  • 2021 Nautilus available for order; 2020s still in stock
  • Lease: From $419 for 36 months
  • Rebates: Up to $3,500 off 2020s
  • Finance: From 0% APR for 72 months + $1,000 bonus
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