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2019 Lincoln Nautilus: First Drive Review

Lincoln has done a commendable job refreshing and updating its midsize MKX crossover for the 2019 year. The 5-passenger utility debuts with fresh styling, a more efficient engine, innovative technology, enhanced safety equipment and a brand-new name — it now boasts a Lincoln Nautilus badge on the rear hatch. Each of the tweaks, tucks and enhancements are designed to further differentiate it from its DNA-sharing cousin, the Ford Edge, and to make the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus a stand-out in a very competitive luxury segment.

Fresh Styling

Gone is the oft-debated appearance of last year’s MKX, which has been completely replaced with attractive styling that has traces of European influence. The fresh look is cohesive, and it cleanly embraces Lincoln’s corporate star mesh grille — prominent, yet perfectly integrated on the nose. There are chrome accents on each side (emblazoned with "Nautilus," in case you missed it) and a slightly updated rear fascia. Passersby will immediately notice the new styling on the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus — it’s a looker.

The interior is mostly carried forward, but the appointments are first-rate. The driver faces a standard digital instrument cluster while seated on an (optional) Ultra Comfort 22-way seat with heating and cooling. Materials and fit-and-finish are both good, but the ergonomics, including oddly stacked transmission buttons, will take some getting used to.

Standard Technology and Safety Equipment

Many useful driver-assist features, like a Blind Spot Information System, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams and a lane-keeping system, are bundled into Lincoln Co-Pilot360, which is standard equipment on the Nautilus. Lane-centering and evasive-steer assist are also available. Connectivity is important for most consumers, so Lincoln delivers a standard embedded 4G modem with Wi-Fi hotspot capability. And the center display, with Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment interface, doubles as a display for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are both standard.

New 4-Cylinder Engine

The naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 engine has been dropped for the 2019 model year, replaced with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. While the new engine (rated at 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque) is down on overall horsepower, it delivers more torque at the low end of the tachometer, which makes it feel stronger. The twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 (335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque) returns, for those that want a bit more power. Also, gone is last year’s dated 6-speed automatic transmission, which has been replaced by a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic that promises better acceleration and improved real-world fuel efficiency. Front-wheel drive remains standard, with all-wheel drive on the options list.

Driving Dynamics for Luxury, not Sport

With standard adaptive suspension and generous sound deadening, the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus is both comfortable and quiet on the open road. The suspension absorbs nearly all of the pavement breaks and bumps effortlessly, but some of the larger impacts do jolt — blame much of that harshness on the large 21-inch wheels that were on our test vehicle (the standard 18-in wheels will ride better). Yet overall, the Nautilus rides very well — passengers won’t complain. In fact, our only gripe was with the steering that is stable at speed but overly aggressive immediately off center.

Lincoln Delivers Convenience

Saving the best for last, every Lincoln comes with conciergelike services that include the Lincoln Way app, which allows owners to lock, unlock, start and locate their vehicles remotely and provides information about tire pressures and fuel level. New Lincoln owners also have a short-term complementary membership to CLEAR, the company that expedites consumers through security lines. And, all Nautilus owners are offered the company’s Pickup and Delivery service that provides free retrieval and delivery of vehicles for service and maintenance — a comprehensive package that should save owners plenty of time.

Look for the updated 2019 Lincoln Nautilus in showrooms this Fall with a base price of $41,335 (including destination) for the standard FWD model. The range-topping AWD Black Label trim tops out at $57,890.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

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