2021 Lincoln Nautilus

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Updated: March 25, 2021

2021 Lincoln Nautilus

The Lincoln Nautilus is a two-row mid-size luxury crossover, positioned between the smaller Corsair and the larger, three-row Aviator.

Lincoln has revamped the Nautilus for 2021 with a new interior that’s capped by an equally-new 13.2-inch touchscreen, complete with the latest Sync 4 infotainment system that is capable of over-the-air updates and allows your phone to double as a key. Other features include voice command, cloud services, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The rest of the Nautilus is familiar, including the two available powertrains. Most models will use a 2.0-liter turbo-4 producing 250 horsepower; a 335-horsepower 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 is on the options list. Front-drive is standard on the base engine, all-wheel drive on the V-6. Both share an 8-speed automatic transmission.

With the turbo-4 and front-wheel drive, the Nautilus returns 21 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined. Adding all-wheel drive reduces those figures to 20/25/22 mpg.
The V-6 is thirstiest at 19/25/21 mpg.

The Nautilus comes equipped with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active-lane control, and blind-spot monitors. Optional equipment includes a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist, and steering assist for evasive maneuvers.

The NHTSA gave the Nautilus five stars out of five overall and four stars for its rollover protection, which is the benchmark for SUVs. The IIHS noted it withstood crashes well enough to earn their top score but the headlights rated a “Poor,” which denied it the Top Safety Pick designation.

Model Lineup

The cheapest of the Nautilus trims is the well-equipped base model, which goes without any identifying trim name. It begins at $42,035 and includes a 13.2-inch touchscreen, 10-way power-adjustable heated seats, synthetic leather, automatic climate control, a power liftgate, and a digital gauge cluster.

The $49,495 Nautilus Reserve brings 22-way front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, perforated leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, and 20-inch wheels.

The $64,795 Nautilus Black Label trim is the flagship model. As is tradition with the Black Labe lineup, the big highlight here is a choice of three distinctive interior themes that are especially opulent. Besides real wood, leather, and metal trimming, Black Labels feature the V-6 engine, 21-inch wheels, LED headlights, and a 19-speaker Revel audio system as standard.

Exterior

The Nautilus is a generally fetching crossover, with nicely sculpted hips, a wide stance, and an elegant visage that is both classy and understated. The face might be all Lincoln, but the body shell has more than a passing resemblance to the related Ford Edge.

Most casual passersby won’t pick up on the similarities. Handsome is handsome, and the Nautilus has a confidence about it that belies its more humble origins.

Interior

Lincoln has done only good things as of late, and the new interior for the Nautilus counts among its recent wins. Gone is the old 2010s-era touchscreen and center stack; in is a low, shelflike dashboard done up in an attractive mix of leather and gloss trim that upholds the new 13.2-inch touchscreen. Below this shelf is a five-button row of toggles for the pushbutton shifter that resemble piano keys in their look and feel.

The big wood-trimmed console has two parts: a flat rear section with a single deep cubby and a gently-sloping forward section housing climate controls. Amidst the climate switchgear are some other physical knobs, such as volume and tuning knobs for the radio.

It’s all very classy and modern, avoiding looking brash and overdone. Quality is exemplary, especially on the Black Label trim, which comes with its own selection of alluring interior combinations to choose from.

The new touchscreen is the biggest revelation. Wireless smartphone integration, over-the-air updates, cloud services, and voice recognition are just some of the capabilities tucked into this 13.2-inch screen. It’s fast, easy to use, and looks great.

The Nautilus is strictly a two-row SUV, with the back row offering nearly 40 inches of leg room. Cargo space behind the rear seats measures 37.2 cubic feet; fold down the seatbacks and 68.8 cubic feet of cargo area opens up.

Driving Impressions

The base turbo-4 is strong for its size, doling out 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque through a smooth, intuitive 8-speed automatic. It gives the Nautilus some real gumption around town and on the interstate. Darting through a quick yellow light or making a pass on a two-lane don’t prompt any second-guessing.

The V-6 is overkill for most buyers, but it’s glorious, twin-turbo overkill. Even though the Nautilus can weigh over 4,500 pounds, the 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque doled out through the double turbos of the 2.7-liter V-6 brings real chutzpah to this Lincoln.

Both engines come with a sport mode, but what’s the point? Lincoln has made clear it doesn’t intend to partake in the horsepower arms race currently being waged by the Germans. Comfort is paramount, and to that end the Nautilus is almost bursting with sound deadening. It is an exceptionally quiet crossover, a quality which nicely complements the buttoned-down, bump-smothering ride.

Final Word

Like all modern Lincolns, the 2021 Nautilus hews to the old standard of luxury: quality appointments, a coddling and quiet ride, and gracefully fast powertrains. It isn’t a sports car in any guise, but it is highly competent in nearly all situations. The new interior has corrected our last major concern with the Nautilus, and now we’d be happy even with one of the well-equipped base models.

 

—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection