New name, new face. The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus may be sporting a better name and a much better looking exterior, but it's largely the same as the MKX that it replaced and the Ford Edge that it's based off of underneath. While it may look like a big change, the Nautilus isn't a radical departure in any way.
That's not to say these changes are insignificant. Many found the Lincoln system of naming all of their vehicles MK-something to be confusing and hard to remember, and it's way cooler to say that you drive a Nautilus like you're Captain Nemo or something.
Likewise, the new face is a huge improvement over the last one. It gives the Nautilus a look more in line with an SUV instead of that of a bloated crossover. The new front and rear fascia that match up with the Continental and the Navigator are much nicer as well, ditching the polarizing grill that looked like a robotic Cheshire Cat.
New engine, too. Another significant change for the Nautilus is the new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that replaces the base V6. While offering less horsepower than the V6 of the MKX, the turbo-four still puts out just as much torque while also offering a much improved fuel economy rating.
Those looking for real power should be satiated by the 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 335 horsepower that's available on the Select trim and above, but don't expect a sports-car experience in this luxury SUV. The Nautilus offers a different kind of luxury that falls more on the side of Rolls-Royce rather than Porsche. Instead of angry exhaust notes and jarring acceleration, Lincoln wants you to be quickly whisked in comfort and serenity.
Interior could improve. While Lincoln has improved its exterior look greatly, the interior still needs some work. They've updated the Nautilus with much nicer materials for the dashboard, doors, and seats, but the center infotainment stack still uses very cheap-looking hard plastics. They may have upgraded 80 percent of the vehicle's interior, but the 20 percent they didn't touch is the part your eyes and hands engage with most.
That's not to say you're sitting in the bargain bin though. The Nautilus still gets standard 10-way adjustable heated seats, while 22-way adjustable seats with heating and ventilation are available, and every trim but the base gets real leather. Other features include a driver assistance package, standard automatic climate control, additional wood or aluminum trims, and an upgraded audio system.
Black Label treatment. The interior woes of the Nautilus can be easily fixed as long as you're willing to dish out the cash. The Nautilus is the latest recipient of the Black Label trim that Lincoln hopes will define the brand. Instead of choosing colors for your interior, the Black Label offers three interior themes: the red carpet-inspired Gala, European-style Chalet, and the chestnut and black Thoroughbred.
These themes offer high-end Venetian leather or Alcantara, as well as real wood and aluminum trim. Additionally, Black Label Nautilus models get standard LED headlights and an upgraded 19-speaker audio system, although the 22-way adjustable seats remain optional.
The biggest draw to the Black Label is the luxury experience offered alongside the car. When you want to buy a Nautilus Black Label, someone from the dealership will come to you, and when it's time for service, someone will pick your car up for you and leave you a loaner so that you're not inconvenienced. Maintenance is complementary for the life of the warranty, and you'll be designated a personal concierge that can help you with all sorts of things.
Final thoughts. The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus is a big step forward for Lincoln, offering the latest in their ongoing brand renovation. It's largely successful, providing a much more upscale look and feel than the previous MKX. The name "Nautilus" is much more evoking than three letters, and it's a direction we wish more automakers would go with in their naming conventions.
While there's room for improvement in the interior, the Nautilus is still a solid luxury SUV. It offers a luxury experience that seeks to insulate you from the world, compared to many rivals who strive for sportiness and performance. This makes it perfect for those who aren't interested by cornering or acceleration who just want a comfortable and elegant looking vehicle.
If you're looking for a sporty experience, the Audi Q5 or Alfa Romeo Stelvio are much better options, with direct steering and performance focused suspensions. Additionally, while the Nautilus does offer a roomy second row, a third row isn't available; families with more than two children will probably want to look for an SUV with a third row like the Buick Enclave.