Calmness and Serenity...Delivered with a touch of Elegance
Given current trends, you’d think every luxury SUV would be selling as fast as they can make them. And indeed overall sales do continue to rise, but so too does competitiveness and that makes it even harder for any one single model to stand out from the crowd. Now Lincoln has had its recent ups and downs in recent years, but their 2021 SUV lineup is more impressive than ever, highlighted by an updated Nautilus.
Lincoln may be all about promoting the calmness and serenity they’re attempting to provide inside their vehicles; but as this updated 2021 Lincoln Nautilus shows, when it comes to their exteriors, bold is more the theme, though certainly still delivered with a touch of elegance.
The 5-passenger Nautilus shares its bones with the Ford Edge of course, one of Ford’s first crossovers, and went by the name MKX for many years. But, the Lincoln SUV story is much more interesting if you go back to the 1998 Navigator. Sure, it was just a chrome-clad Expedition with extra leather and wood, but boy did it sell, and along with Cadillac’s Escalade truly changed the luxury vehicle scene forever, with more sales being SUVs than sedans these days.
Getting back to the Nautilus, changes for ’21 are relatively minor. The more polished front end includes added body-color on the bumper, and less grille work around the fog lamps.
The grille itself is finished in satin aluminum, as are the optional roof rails. A panoramic Vista Roof is standard in Black Label; while in back, are signature LED tail lights and a hands-free lift gate.
Three new colors choices include this Flight Blue; and wheel sizes range from 18 to 21-inches.
The interior has been more completely revamped. The previous rounded dash, with inset infotainment, has been replaced by a throwback horizontal design, with a new 13-inch touchscreen up top and within easy reach.
There are new varieties of interior colors as well; while Black Label models have distinct themes, such as this Chalet with Alpine Venetian leather and Deep Silverwood finishes.
Front-wheel-drive is standard, as is a 250–horsepower 2.0-liter I4 turbo; with all-wheel-drive optional in all trims except for Black Label which comes with AWD standard. Along with this 335-horsepower 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 that cranks out 380 lb-ft. of torque. Both engines equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
So, with that twin-turbo putting plenty of wind in our sails, we charted a course for Mason Dixon Dragway, in hopes of some smooth ¼-mile sailing.
At the line, there’s a slight hesitation for power to come on, but then this all-wheel-drive Nautilus leapt off the line with a healthy dose of low-end torque. It doesn’t feel overly powerful, but 5.8-seconds to 60 is more than adequate for a fancy family hauler.
From there, it’s all calm seas for the rest of the 1/4-mile. Power builds consistently down the track, mostly uninterrupted by super smooth gear changes. ¼-mile completed in 14.4-seconds at 96 miles-per-hour, and it feels quite stable and comfortable cruising along at high speeds, despite the strong winds at our track day.
Initially, the light steering and generous body roll gave us pause in our handling course, but as we pushed harder things seemed to improve, with only minor understeer; feeling quite agile through the cones and even a little enjoyable, as the stability systems stayed mostly in the background.
The soft suspension also meant some significant nose dive in our braking runs. But, stops from 60 took only 112-feet; and overall stability was quite good.
Away from the track is where the Nautilus truly excels however. A smooth, quiet, and comfortable ride, reminiscent of classic Lincolns, yet with everything you look for in a modern luxury utility, like easy to use tech and a jammin’ stereo system.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for a Nautilus all-wheel-drive V6 are 19-City, 25-Highway, and 21-Combined; our average a reasonable 20.6 miles-per-gallon with Regular gas.
That’s slightly below average for the Energy Impact Score; consuming 15.7-barrels of oil annually, with 7.0-tons of CO2 emissions.
No doubt about it, SUVs are getting pricy, and luxury SUVs even more so. The Nautilus starts reasonably enough at $43,595, with all-wheel-drive another $2,500. But things escalate quickly from there up to the Black Label’s base of $66,185; throw in a few options and you can be well over $75,000.
Like an increasing number of brands, Lincoln has thrown all of their eggs into the SUV basket, with no cars remaining in their lineup since the discontinuation of the Continental last year. So, it’s hard to say for sure whether Lincoln is a brand that’s in flux or on the comeback with the right strategy finally in place; but this 2021 Nautilus is part of a Lincoln SUV lineup that is quite comprehensive and better than ever, which is exactly what they need to be a serene success.
Engine: 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6
Torque: 380 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 5.8 seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.4 seconds @ 96 mph
EPA: 19 City / 25 Highway / 21 Combined