CHATHAM, Mass. – The new 2021 Lincoln Nautilus, with redesigned interior, offers its lavishly pampered occupants the same level of sanctuary its marine namesake finds within the shell protecting it from its uncertain ocean environment.
Lincoln, Ford’s luxury division, has transformed itself into an all-SUV brand with four models competing at the top-end of the highly competitive premium portion. The Corsair does battle with compacts while the Aviator takes on the three-row midsize bunch and the Navigator mixes with the large vehicles.
Lincoln Aviator (Hybrid) Grand Touring Takes Flight
Representing the Lincoln entry in the two-row midsize segment, the Nautilus, which we sampled in top-of-the-range Black Label all-wheel drive (AWD) livery, provides a roomy, comfortable sanctuary replete with all the technology, amenities and features the company’s engineers and designers could conceive.
Refined drive combines comfort with efficient performance
Like every Lincoln we have driven during the past few years, the (new for) 2021 Nautilus Black Label AWD was comfortable without being overly soft; drove reassuringly well, with more than adequate every-day performance, and turned in very reasonable fuel economy for such a large, roomy SUV.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency rated the Nautilus with 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged four-cylinder engine, at 21 miles per gallon in overall driving (19 city, 25 highway). I got just a hair more than 24 mpg during my week of a combination of highway, suburban and rural-road motoring.
To continue the description of the performance pieces, the 2.7L engine puts 250 horsepower and 280 pounds feet of torque through the efficient eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD system.
The 4,545-pound SUV is no sports car – nor is it intended to be a high-performance machine – but it was very competent and satisfying in every type of driving. Entering a highway and passing slower-moving traffic once there was never an issue; the mixture of performance, economy and low-noise reaffirm the powertrain decisions by the engineers.
Once on the move a power-assisted four-wheel anti-lock braking (ABS) system with four-wheel discs: 13.8-inch (350mm) rotors up front and 13.6-inch (345mm) in the rear, took care of bringing the SUV to a stop. The large brakes ride within 21-inch painted bright machined aluminum wheels shod with all-season 265/40R21 tires.
Driver assistance fit for a premium SUV
Lincoln filled the redesigned Nautilus Black Label with its Lincoln Co-Pilot360™ and Co-Pilot360 PLUS advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS). The former includes automatic high beams; blind-spot detection with cross-traffic alert; lane-keeping system with driver alert, lane-keeping alert and lane-keeping aid; pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking (AEB); dynamic brake support with forward collision warning and pedestrian detection, and rear-view camera with rear-camera wash.
The Co-Pilot 360PLUS brings a 360-degree camera system; adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane-centering features; distance alert/distance indication (in center instrument cluster and heads-up display); enhanced active park assist; evasive steering assist, and front parking sensing.
This is a very comprehensive ADAS which Lincoln incorporates very well into the driving environment. Never did I feel like any of the warning or assistance features were overwhelming or intrusive to my driving – they worked and worked to make the driving more relaxing and enjoyable.
The aforementioned heads-up display, while not strictly considered an ADAS, in my mind is one of the best driver-assist features available today. The Nautilus version is easy to use, works well, and contains useful information – like speed, ADAS warnings, navigation information.
Amenities and creature comforts befitting a luxury vehicle
The Nautilus’s roomy interior – comparable to others in this segment – is filled with technology and amenities to provide its occupants with a luxurious experience.
Leather wraps the heated, power-adjustable steering wheel (containing controls for the cruise-control, audio, dual-zone climate system and media) as well as the power adjustable heated/ventilated/massaging front seats (the driver’s with 22-directions and a three-person memory encompassing seat/mirror/steering-wheel positions).The rear seats are also heated.
In addition to the steering-wheel controls, voice activation can control virtually all of these functions and there is a complete complement of buttons, knobs and dials for the more traditionally minded to activate the climate-control, entertainment and many other vehicle systems (like lights).
The driver’s seat automatically positions the bolsters tighter once the Nautilus is shifted into “Drive” for a more controlled, secure position. When the car is shifted into “Park,” the bolsters expand to allow easier egress and ingress.
Making its Lincoln debut, the SYNC® 4 infotainment system arrives with even more simplicity and connectivity on the 13.2-inch horizontal center stack screen. The system comes with navigation, AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio/streaming Bluetooth audio and WIRELESS Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
A 19-speaker Revel® Ultima audio system pumps out the sounds from any of the various audio sources.
Phone As A Key technology, now available across the 2021 Lincoln lineup, comes new to the 2021 Nautilus and is activated through the Lincoln Way™ app, allowing owners to start and drive using compatible smartphone – no traditional key necessary.
Another Lincoln feature is the piano-key-like automatic-transmission selector. In place of a “shift” lever or, as some other manufacturers have gone, dial, Lincoln has a series of P-R-N-D “keys” between the center console and dashboard to control the transmission. The system works and frees up console space for useful storage, something offered in abundance in the Nautilus.
Truly a sanctuary from the world around you
The Lincoln Nautilus delivers on the brand’s promise to provide a luxurious refuge from the hectic world in which it operates. At $68,740 (which includes $1,095 destination charge and $2,510 in options), it sits well within the competitive set of premium midsize SUVs, offering a modern American version of luxury, performance and technology.