Pros and Cons on the Nautilus, a 2020 SUV of the Year contender
- Comfortable suspension
- Way cooler name than MKX
- Surprising turbo-four
- Dated interior
- $70K USD is a lot to ask
- Lacks off-road modes
As a rolling preview of things to come, the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus tantalizes. Will the next-gen Nautilus be as good as the new Corsair and Aviator? We can only hope. For now, the current Nautilus cruises through SUV of the Year as a tastefully updated, if dated, midsize luxury crossover. The Nautilus attempts to quietly out-luxuriate the Lexus RX in a soft, premium, and unapologetically non-sporty package.
Formerly known as the MKX, the Ford Edge–based Nautilus earned one thumb up from multiple judges yet may have made the Corsair and Aviator at the same competition look even better by comparison, showcasing the brand’s overall potential as a convincing luxury brand.
Although the Corsair and Aviator wear more fetching examples of Lincoln’s latest design language, it’s inside that the Nautilus’ age becomes most apparent. There are touches of luxury, but the cabin simply can’t match the alluring style or more functional layout of the newer Lincoln SUVs.
“This looks very 2010,” executive editor Mark Rechtin said about the interior, “which is too bad because this is not an altogether bad vehicle. This is a shame because the Nautilus has good bones.”
Find out what’s new with the 2020 Lexus RX here.
Lincoln recognizes that luxury crossovers meant more for cruising than canyon-carving don’t need insanely powerful base engines. In the Nautilus, a 250-hp turbo-four engine helps keep the entry price well under that of the Lexus RX. And, actually, the little engine mostly gets the job done.
“It’s surprisingly peppy for a small turbo-four in such a big package,” editor-in-chief Ed Loh said. “It feels very planted and kind of heavy on the road.”
Just don’t stick with the four-cylinder expecting a fuel economy boost compared to the other Nautilus engine, as EPA-rated mileage comes in only 1 disappointing mpg higher in combined city/highway driving than the much quicker 335-hp V-6.
No matter the engine, however, the Nautilus’ well-controlled suspension keeps road imperfections from bothering passengers. “What’s really impressive is how well both Nautilus test vehicles went over rough roads,” features editor Scott Evans said. “It was especially remarkable how each floated over an undulating section that had some competitors bounding like pogo sticks.”
However, there’s still no off-road mode or hill descent control. Detroit editor Alisa Priddle warned she was close to getting bogged down in the silty sand, though Rechtin found it fun to toss the Nautilus around in our simulated snowdrift.
Still, there’s also no avoiding the fact that the Nautilus lacks the special sauce that makes the newer Corsair, Aviator, and Navigator so tasty. You get to be picky when you’re paying up to $70,000 USD for a luxury crossover, and a Ford would have basically gotten the job done for much less.
“The Nautilus shows you how far Lincoln has come in the Corsair and Aviator,” Loh said. “It’s a perfectly capable SUV, but I just don’t know why you would buy this over the Corsair or Aviator given the overlap in price.”
Hmm. Maybe the $1,750 USD Chroma Elite Copper paint on one of our Nautilus testers? Or the extra curb appeal that comes with driving a bigger crossover than Lincoln’s new compact entry? Even if the appeal originates with an evocative name that’s more satisfying than MKX or RX, Nautilus buyers should be pleased with the comfortable way it drives.
Now that we’ve experienced every updated or redesigned Lincoln SUV—from the Corsair and Nautilus to the three-row Aviator and Navigator—we appreciate how far the brand has come. The Nautilus nameplate has potential, but the luxury crossover currently wearing the name doesn’t advance its segment enough—and won’t until a truly new version arrives.
|2019 Lincoln Nautilus 2.0T AWD||2019 Lincoln Nautilus 2.7T AWD|
|Base Price/As Tested||$43,830/$61,700||$48,035/$69,380|
|Power (SAE net)||250 hp @ 5,500 rpm||335 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||280 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm||380 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||7.3 sec||5.8 sec|
|Quarter Mile||15.6 sec @ 88.8 mph||14.4 sec @ 95.8 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||117 ft||117 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.83 g (avg)||0.81 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||27.6 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)||27.1 sec @ 0.68 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||20/25/22 mpg||19/26/21 mpg|