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2018 Lincoln MKX vs. 2019 Lincoln Nautilus: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Eric Brandt November 2018
  • The Lincoln MKX has been renamed the Lincoln Nautilus for 2019.

  • The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus has several updates over the MKX other than just the name.

  • A new Black Label trim pushes the Nautilus into next-level luxury territory, making it more competitive with more expensive luxury crossovers.

The most recent generation of the Lincoln MKX wasn't that old, but it has already been replaced with what is technically a brand-new model. The all-new 2019 Lincoln Nautilus rides on the same platform as the outgoing MKX midsize crossover, but it has a new name, a new look and a few new tricks up its sleeve that pushes it further upmarket than you might expect a Lincoln to go.

Despite the new name, the Nautilus has a lot in common with the MKX that it's replacing. Let's take a look at what's different and what's the same between the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus and the 2018 Lincoln MKX.

Exterior

One of the largest and most noticeable differences between the Nautilus and the MKX is exterior styling. The Nautilus has an appearance that resembles the bigger Navigator. With what Lincoln calls a "star mesh" grille, new headlights and a whole new front fascia, the Nautilus brings Lincoln's new corporate face to the midsize-crossover segment.

The rest of the body is very similar to that of the MKX's. The MKX had Lincoln's previous corporate face, which has twin horizontal front grilles with a spot for the Lincoln badge in between. It's a smooth, handsome design, but it now looks a little more dated because of the new faces showing up on other Lincolns like the Navigator and now the Nautilus.

The two crossovers are the exact same size since they ride on Ford's CD4 platform, which has been around since 2013. It's also the same platform that underpins the Lincoln Continental sedan. So if you like the Continental, but would rather have an SUV, the Nautilus is a great alternative.

Interior

The interior of the Lincoln Nautilus looks pretty familiar, as it shares a lot of the same elements with the MKX, but that's not a bad thing. It's a handsome and functional interior with a sloping center stack, which makes for good ergonomics when you reach for the controls. Both are available with luxurious interior appointments like leather seats, wood interior trim and a sunroof.

One thing that's new for the 2019 Nautilus is a 12.3-in LCD instrument panel, similar to the one found in the dash of the Navigator. This customizable screen adds a premium touch to your drive and really helps you feel like you're driving a more expensive vehicle.

As for passenger and cargo space, you can expect very similar interior dimensions between the MKX and the Nautilus. There's plenty of legroom in both rows of seats, but the sloping rear roofline, while stylish, cuts into rear headroom a little. Cargo space is about average for this segment.

Other new perks of the Nautilus are the available "Ultra Comfort" seats, which have 22-way adjustability on top of being heated and ventilated. The back seats are nice, too, but the driver and front passenger are in for a real treat in a Nautilus that's equipped with the Ultra Comfort seats.

Mechanicals

The Nautilus and the MKX have different base engines but share an optional engine. They both come standard with front-wheel drive and are available with all-wheel drive.

2018 Lincoln Nautilus Engines

  • 3.7-liter Cyclone V6; 303 horsepower, 278 lb-ft of torque; 17 miles per gallon in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway

  • 2.7-liter EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6; 335 hp, 380 lb-ft of torque; 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy

2019 Lincoln Nautilus Engines

  • 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged inline four; 245 hp, 275 lb-ft of torque; 21 mpg city/25 mpg hwy

  • 2.7-liter EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6; 335 hp, 380 lb-ft of torque; 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy

Every engine in both the Nautilus and the MKX has the exact same highway fuel economy rating of 25 mpg. However, the 4-cylinder EcoBoost gets notably better fuel economy in the city, while sacrificing some hp compared to the base V6 in the MKX.

A standard 8-speed automatic transmission for both engines in the Nautilus replaces the old 6-speed automatic in the MKX.

As always, fuel economy takes a slight hit when you upgrade to AWD. Turning more wheels demands more fuel, but it's a worthwhile upgrade if you're planning on doing a lot of driving in inclement road conditions.

Despite making less hp by a fairly significant margin, we think the new base engine in the Nautilus is an upgrade over the Cyclone V6 in the MKX. You can still have better performance if you want it in the form of the EcoBoost V6, but if fuel economy is a bigger priority for you than performance, the 4-cylinder in the Nautilus is more than adequate and reasonably efficient.


Technology

There's some safety technology that's new in the 2019 Nautilus and some that improves upon the tech available in the MKX. For example, the MKX can be had with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, but the Nautilus takes those features a step further. In the Nautilus, you can have lane-centering assist paired with adaptive cruise control with the addition of stop-and-go functionality. That means that not only can the SUV keep its distance from the car in front of you, it can also come to a complete stop and continue moving on its own. It's not quite driving autonomously, but it's a nifty safety and convenience feature to have.

Another new safety tech feature in the Nautilus is evasive steer assist. If the car's automatic emergency brakes engage, and its sensors can tell that it won't be able to stop in time before rear-ending the car in front of you, the SUV can take the wheel for you and steer to avoid a collision.

As for the infotainment system, the same 8-in Sync 3 system carries over from the MKX to the Nautilus. Both crossovers also have push-button transmission controls next to the infotainment screen, making the interior look a little more elegant by forgoing a traditional shifter.

Pricing

Pricing for the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus starts a little higher than the 2018 Lincoln MKX. The starting MSRP of the MKX is $39,035, and the Nautilus starts at $40,340. The midrange Select and Reserve trims for both models are in the $40,000 range, with the MKX being more affordable in both variants. If you want the most luxurious midsize crossover from Lincoln you can get, upgrading to a Black Label trim will set you back at least $54,230 in a MKX or $56,895 in a Nautilus.

The high-end Black Label configuration has three different themes available in both SUVs. In the MKX, the themes are Indulgence, Modern Heritage and Thoroughbred. In the Nautilus, the Black Label themes are Chalet, Gala and Thoroughbred. The themes basically just dictate how your interior looks in terms of interior trim, the color of the leather, the headliner and the carpet and the floor mats.

Getting up around $60,000 might sound like a lot to spend on a midsize SUV from Lincoln, but with its premium materials and abundance of features, like a panoramic roof, massaging seats, a full complement of safety tech, a high-end Nautilus or a MKX justifies its price tag better than you might think.

Conclusion

The MKX and the Nautilus aren't the best-performing or the most luxurious crossovers in their competitive segment, but they both offer strong value. Whether you're looking for a value-priced luxury SUV or a nicer one with all the bells and whistles, Lincoln has you covered.

As for choosing between the MKX and the Nautilus, we think the Nautilus has plenty of improvements over the MKX, such as the new look and the improved technology, to make it worth the slightly higher cost.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Lincoln MKX vs. 2019 Lincoln Nautilus: What's the Difference? - Autotrader