The Edge, elevated. The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus comes from humble roots. As the luxury arm of Ford, Lincoln builds the Nautilus on the same platform as the Ford Edge.
You wouldn’t necessarily know from the outside — the Nautilus cuts a dashing profile, with an athletic stance that’s underscored by sharp air intakes and just enough chrome. Lincoln’s grille fits in well here, and the design feels cohesive and polished.
The inside is even better. Lincoln eschews a conventional gear shifter in favor of piano-style button selectors, which underscore a sweeping horizontal dash. A generous 13.2-inch infotainment touchscreen caps it off, and it all works surprisingly well.
Comfort over cornering. The 2021 Nautilus makes no claim to sportiness. The suspension is geared for a plush ride, and it swallows up road imperfections with the best of them. Adaptive dampers are available, but either setup is comfortable. Steering is heavy but slow, which makes the Nautilus feel ponderous in the corners.
The Nautilus also shares its engine lineup with the Edge, offering a basic turbocharged four-cylinder unit or a more powerful V-6. Both do an admirable job motivating the SUV’s bulk, though neither is likely to win many drag races.
Sound deadening is a highlight — hardly any engine noise filters through to the serene cabin. For all these reasons, the Nautilus is an excellent choice for family road trips. The lone exception is fuel economy, which maxes out at a mediocre 23 mpg combined.
Room (for five) to stretch. The Nautilus is portly for a midsize SUV, but unlike some competitors, it offers no third row.
We prefer it that way. Third rows tend to be cramped in SUVs this size, and the Nautilus trades seating capacity for excellent cabin space in both rows. Rear passengers have plenty of legroom and headroom, and the front seats are supportive and nicely padded.
Cargo space starts at 37.2 cubic feet, but that number expands to 68.8 with the second row folded. That’s fairly good for the class, although it falls short of the rival Honda Passport. Lincoln fills the cabin with useful storage nooks, including a thoughtful niche underneath the center console.
Luxury perks. Even in base form, the Nautilus feels worthy of its premium price tag. The front row is heated and power-adjustable, and the exterior gets luxury touches like adaptive headlights and a power liftgate. Interior material quality is excellent.
The opulence increases as you climb the trim ladder and the wood and metal trim of the Black Label feels suitably palatial. Our favorite trim is in between: the midrange Reserve trim adds leather upholstery and useful tech perks for around $50,000.
Tech in general is another highlight of the Nautilus. The standard infotainment system is wide and responsive, and the included active safety features are comprehensive. Lincoln's warranty program includes pickup and delivery on service calls, which is another welcome bonus.
Final thoughts. The 2021 Lincoln Nautilus lacks the dynamism of the German competition, and it isn’t quite as practical as some mainstream models. Still, there's plenty to like. The exterior is handsome, the interior is sumptuous, and the ride is as comfortable as it gets. If American luxury suits your taste, the Nautilus will deliver.
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