The biggest news about Lincoln's new crossover has nothing to do with its powertrain. Nothing to do with its styling. Nothing to do with its technology, or its extravagant touches, or the slightly conceited names of its Black Label trims. The biggest, most important thing about the new high-riding luxury wagon from Ford's bougie branch: It has an actual name.
Meet the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus.
Replacing the MKX in the slot between the compact MKC and the kaiju-sized Navigator, the Nautilus marks the brand's second vehicle in two years to use a name in lieu of the odd three-letter appellation used on many of the company's models in a seeming attempt to ape the alphanumeric jumbles favored by fancy European carmakers. (It also suggests Lincoln is going for an "Na-" nomenclature for its SUVs, which makes us at The Drive wonder if the MKC will soon be renamed the "Lincoln Nacho.")
"Customers appreciate Lincoln as a brand bringing back the name," Lincoln president Kumar Galhotra said at the vehicle's pre-L.A. Auto Show reveal. Buyers, he said, identify with names more easily than they do with alphanumerics.
To be far, to say it's "replacing" the MKX may be a bit of an exaggeration. Beneath all the changes, the Nautilus is still based on the same CD4 platform as the MKX, which it also shares with everything from the Ford Edge to the Fusion to the Continental. Still, with that platform only dating back to 2013, it's hardly worn out its welcome yet. And most people will never make the connection between the new model and the catfish-whiskered crossover it's subbing in for, thanks to a heavy application of the new corporate look that, now that it's been adopted by the MKC, can be found on the entire Lincoln lineup bar the dead-man-walking-on-the-green-mile MKT wagon. The new Nautilus isn't nearly as outlandish as the identically-named submarine from 1954's Kirk Douglas-helmed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea fame, let alone the one from 2003's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but it's a fine-looking crossover.
2019 Lincoln Nautilus adopts the corporate face
In person, the Nautilus's front end looks a bit more feminine than the Navigator's domineering prow, thanks to proportionally smaller headlamps and rounded black lower air intakes and surrounding trim that give the impression of Angelina Jolie-esque lips. The biggest visible change from the side is the addition of mighty chrome badges beneath the mirrors screaming "NAUTILUS" in font of a size reserved by newspapers for the start of a world war. Out back, the rear hatch remains largely the same—a good thing, too, as the sharply-raked glass makes the vehicle look far faster than any Lincoln crossover is actually likely to be. Overall, it's an attractive look, one far more likely to suck in fashionable upper-crusters than the former model was. (It's also far more appealing than its arch-nemesis, Cadillac's chunky XT5—at least in this reporter's eyes.)
New Nautilus is typical Lincoln comfort inside
Inside, things should largely feel familiar to anyone who ever sat in the previous MKX...or, for that matter, a Lincoln MKZ, as both models share the trait of a center console that flows into the dashboard. Still, while it may be a bit plastic-y, it works well; the height and angle mean your right hand falls exactly where you'd want it to adjust the jobs and buttons when you rest your arm on the...arm rest. New "Ultimate Comfort" seats available as an option combine 22-way adjustment with a massage function Lincoln says was developed with the help of orthopedic surgeons. (If it's anything like the one in other Lincolns, however, the company would be better off asking spas for help and adding features like Mercedes-Benz's hot stone massage.)
One thing the Nautilus does have in its favor above most other midsize crossovers: a 12.3-inch all-LCD instrument panel like the one in the Navigator. There's also a wireless phone charging pad, but if you want to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for the Sync 3 system, you'll still want to plug in. There are plenty of other technological add-ons available or standard, too: a lane-centering feature for the stop-and-go-capable adaptive cruise control, a system that helps the driver evade obstacles in panic situations, pedestrian-detecting collision prevention assistance, and a self-parking system.
Just don't say this Lincoln has an EcoBoost
No matter how you spec your Nautilus, though, there'll be a turbocharged powertrain under the hood. A 2.0-liter inline-four making 245 horsepower comes standard, but those who, for whatever reason, buy a Lincoln for speed will want the 2.7-liter V6 that makes 335 hp and 380 pound-feet of torque. Either way, the crossover uses an eight-speed automatic; front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive will almost certainly be available.
As has become expected of Lincolns these days, the Nautilus offers a series of fancy-pantsy Black Label trims—and as expected, they each come with a backstory sure to induce eye rolls in cynical automotive journalists. There's "Gala," which Lincoln says was "inspired by haute couture at New York’s Met Gala;" there's "Chalet," which "evokes the contrasting pleasures of pulse- pounding mountain slopes and the inherent comfort of an après-ski lodge;" and then there's "Thoroughbred," which "celebrates the distinguished and elite lifestyle of horse racing, offering a reflection of traditional American history."
How much will one of these Nautilii run you exactly when it goes on sale in the second half of 2018? Lincoln didn't say, but given the pricing of the old MKX, we bet it'll start around $40,000 and run up to close to $60K. No matter how much you pay, though, you'll have access to all the nice new lifestyle features the carmaker offers owners. In addition to standard pickup and delivery for any maintenance appointments, for 2018, Lincoln buyers also receive a free subscription to the CLEAR security service that lets the rich cut the line ahead of the rest of us at the airport.