AUTO REVIEW: Nautilus Surfaces With New Look, Safety Features

(Tribune News Service/TNS) -
Lincoln Nautilus
The new Lincoln Nautilus. (Lincoln Motor Company/TNS)

Lincoln’s new Nautilus may not make the same splash that Captain Nemo’s Nautilus submarine did in the Jules Verne novels. And it won’t wow folks like the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, did back in 1954.

But the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus, the evolution of last year’s MKX, does have more going for it than a new name. It has a sharp new front end, with horizontal grille and five jewel-eye LED lights on each side. The top-line Black Label version has twin-turbo power, a new 8-speed automatic and exclusive touches inside: Venetian leather seats, exotic Chilean Maple trim and a choice of ambient colors.

And then there’s the Black Member privileges, including a special app offering vehicle data, free car washes and detailing, free pickup and delivery for regular service and maintenance.

The midsize luxury crossover is aimed at Cadillac XT5, Mercedes GLC and Lexus RX, to name a few, and in comfort and roominess it holds its own. Perhaps not so much in the sport performance category.

There’s surely enough power with the return of the 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6 that gets 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. And it’s mated to an 8-speed automatic, replacing the outdated 6-speed, which helps get it to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. That’s plenty of oomph for on-ramps and passing.

But this car is tuned more for highway comfort and lacks in handling finesse and agility (perhaps the first sign was the push-button gear selector). The all-wheel-drive system comes with three drive modes — Comfort, Normal and Sport — but even the latter only slightly tightens the suspension and brings athleticism on corners and S curves.

Lincoln Nautilus
(Lincoln Motor Company/TNS)

To its credit, the AWD system is a fuel saver. It disengages the rear driveshaft when it isn’t needed and sends power there only when wheel slippage is detected up front. So, essentially, it behaves like a front-wheel-drive vehicle most of the time and that’s good for fuel economy: an estimated 18 mpg city, 27 highway, for a combined 21 mpg.

An adaptive suspension system smooths out road bumps nicely and provides a quiet, comfortable ride around town and on the highway. Steering is precise and responsive.

Stepping into the Black Label cabin reveals an aura of luxury, brightened by a panoramic sunroof. Leather seats are perforated in a pattern of the Lincoln star. The dash, doors and seats come in three elegant schemes (Gala, Chalet and Thoroughbred) featuring different colors, wood and aluminum trims. The headliner is done in soft microsuede.

Front seats have 22-way adjustments with massage feature ($1,500 extra) and offer great headroom and legroom; rear seats offer best-in-class legroom at 39.6 inches. Most will find cargo space is more than adequate with 37.2 cubic feet in the rear, 68.8 cubes with the rear seats folded down.

A 12.3-inch digital gauge display has crisp graphics and can be reconfigured, though not to the extent of some foes. A second 8-inch touchscreen showcases Ford’s latest Sync 3 infotainment system, arguably one of the industry’s best. It is simple to use and understand and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The screen is smallish, but maybe Lincoln will expand it for 2020.

Lincoln Nautilus
(Lincoln Motor Company/TNS)

Other available niceties: A sweet 19-speaker Revel Ultima sound system, rear entertainment system, and wireless device charging.

Standard safety includes higher-end features like rearview camera, automatic high beams and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection; a Driver Assistance Package ($1,590) adaptive cruise control and a new gadget called evasive steering assist, which aids in steering when it senses the driver is trying to steer clear of a vehicle — or tree. Didn’t get to try that, of course.

Still no periscope in the works (to peer at the traffic ahead?) but, with a name like Nautilus, who knows what’s on the horizon?


2019 Lincoln Nautilus Black Label

MSRP: $59,390

As tested: $67,630 (includes 2.7L engine, $2,090; Tech package, $1,720; Driver Assistance package, $1,590; Ultra Comfort seats, $1,500)

What’s all the excitement about? The old MKX returns with a new name, new look, new luxury and safety features like “evasive steering”

Powertrain: 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6, mated to new 8-speed automatic; 335 hp, 380 pound-feet of torque

How’s the performance? Plenty of power but not especially sporty ride; 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds

How’s the fuel economy: 27 mpg highway, 18 city, for 21 combined with the AWD