By: Jag Dhatt
Hollywood/Los Angeles, CA: Lincoln has been on quite the roll lately; no, we’re not talking about another celebrity joining Mathew McConauhey to speak volumes about the brand. Rather, it’s about the brand rebranding itself into celebrity status.
Hot on the heals of the MKC and the Navigator, Lincoln revealed the new Nautilus at the LA Auto Show in late November. Yes, this new mid-size crossover is a successor to the outgoing MKX, but according to Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra, the Nautilus is much more than a simple name change. “We wanted to develop a vehicle that brings a sense of experience that was different than ever before,” said Galhotra. “And, with the introduction of Nautilus, Lincoln now has a strong, distinctive portfolio with a common and recognizable identity.”
Sometimes the simplest of things have the most profound effect. Up front of the Nautilus is a new signature grille, and boy does it ever make an impact – the wing-shape is, thankfully, a thing of the past. Below the side-view mirrors are distinctive, elegant side badges that proudly display the Nautilus name – a nice look in my opinion. Even though all panels have been reworked, behind the A-pillars, the vehicle is recognizable as Lincoln. Rounding up the vehicle is a redesigned tailgate, reminiscent of the MKC, complete with wrap-around taillights. Overall, the Nautilus is a handsome looking vehicle that carries the legacy of the Lincoln brand.
Under the hood sit one of two available power plants. Standard is the 2.0L four-cylinder that gives 245 horsepower, or the optional 2.7L turbo six-cylinder that delivers 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft. of torque. That’s enough to get this SUV moving pretty fast. I do wish that the 400-horsepower engine that is nestled into the Continental would be an option, but not for now. According to Lincoln brass, this vehicle is aimed at a market that if focused on luxury and the 2.7L is a great engine for the Nautilus.
Both engine choices are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with Start/Stop technology. It’s too early to tell if the technology can be disengaged, but we’ll find out soon. Many people also roll their eyes at the Start/Stop feature, but I personally like it because every bit to help the environment is a step in the right direction. For the USA, Nautilus is available in either front or all-wheel drive, and for Canada, only all-wheel drive, because you know, we’re Canadian. The system is set to rear-wheel drive mode as standard, unless there’s loss of traction.
Since this was the first unveiling of the Nautilus, there was no opportunity to drive the vehicle; however, we were encouraged to step inside and experience this newest Lincoln. “Everything about Nautilus (and other Lincoln models) is focused on a better and more human experience,” explained Galhotra. From the Welcome Lights to the new optional Revel sound system and Perfect Seats, Lincoln is confident the vehicle will appease a wide range of buyers. The seats are firm yet comfortable, with a tonne of adjustments for the perfect position. Choice of interior materials is top-notch and fit and finish seems to be excellent. There is a good amount of room for both front and rear passengers, and even taller occupants will find enough headroom. Finally, the storage compartments are very well made and placed. “We had a specialized anthropological team that watched drivers’ interaction with their vehicles,” said Galhotra. “Based on these observations, we designed Nautilus so that it fit the needs of the driver. Thus, for example, the storage area between the front seats is designed to fit even a lady’s handbag.” Where did this extra space come from? Well, lately, most Lincoln vehicles are now equipped with the by-wire, push button gear selector. I’m a fan of an actual gear shifter, but the modern individual doesn’t seem to mind – they would much rather prefer the extra space than a shifter. Moving on, there’s a beautiful 12.3” digital instrument cluster that can be customized in a variety of ways. Of course, in this luxury vehicle, you’ll find a wireless charging pad and the SYNC 3 infotainment comes standard with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
I had mentioned that Lincoln has been on a roll recently, but just how well is the brand doing? Well, in Canada and the USA, 2017 has marked the 4th year of consecutive growth for Lincoln, ahead of the class in the luxury segment. The growth is even more staggering overseas. In 2015, the brand sold just over 11,000 units in China; and this year, 45, 729 units have been sold up to October!