The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus is back after a heavy refresh and a name change in 2019 when what we used to call the MKX became the Nautilus. The improvements go beyond visual upgrades such as Lincoln‘s star mesh grille and more fluid styling to include better safety features like Lincoln’s Co-Pilot360 that includes blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and automatic high beams. Under the hood, the old V6 engine is gone, replaced by a standard 2.0-liter turbocharged unit that pumps out less horsepower but more low-end torque. Still on the roster is the optional EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6, good for 355 hp. Inside the Nautilus still employs the MKX’s interior, only now with more visual styling cues, soft-touch surfaces and additional colors.
Pitted against newer rivals like the BMW X5, the Audi Q5, the Jaguar F-Pace and the Cadillac XT5, the Nautilus has its work cut out. However, for those who favor opulence over pure performance, the Nautilus’ smooth ride, quiet cabin and comfortable driving dynamics, along with its reasonable price, may be all that’s needed to ensure its success.
What’s New for 2020?
The Select trim has been removed, simplifying the Nautilus model range to three trims. The Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus package of driver assistance tech is now available on the Reserve and Black Label trims. See the 2020 Lincoln Nautilus models for sale near you
What We Like
Powerful engine choices
Good value for the money
What We Don’t
No hybrid or plug-in option
Annoying push-button gear selector
Dated dash design
Overly sensitive steering
Standard on the Lincoln Nautilus is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel-drive models earn an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive brings those numbers down slightly to 20 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.
Optional is a twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 good for 355 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. FWD models equipped with this engine return fuel economy figures of 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy, while AWD versions earn 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 Lincoln Nautilus comes in three trims: Standard, Reserve and Black Label. AWD is a $2,495 option on the Standard and Reserve models and it comes standard with the Black Label trim.
The Nautilus ($41,040) comes nicely equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, torque vectoring and curve control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, 18-in alloy wheels, Dual-Zone automatic climate control, a 12.3-in LCD instrument cluster display, keyless entry with push-button start, a manual tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, remote start, rear privacy glass, active noise control, a push-button gear selector, an 11-speaker AM/FM/CD premium audio system with SYNC 3 and Lincoln Connect 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a rearview monitor, keyless entry pad, Bluetooth, heated 10-way power front seats with power lumbar support, LED headlamp and tail lamps, a hands-free power rear lift gate, a Reverse Sensing system and power-folding and heated side mirrors.
That Standard I ($2,605) package adds 18-in premium painted bright machined aluminum wheels, premium leather-trimmed seats and navigation.
The Nautilus Reserve ($48,500) brings leather seating, navigation, fog lights, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, wireless charging pad, an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, enhanced security package (lockable storage compartments, inclination sensor and enhanced valet mode), an adaptive suspension, adaptive LED headlights, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, front windshield wiper de-icer, 13-speaker Revel audio, 20-in wheels and a panoramic moonroof. This is where the twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 engine becomes an available upgrade for $2,500 but it also requires upgrading to AWD.
Add the Reserve I ($3,375) option package and get upgraded to Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus and 20-in premium painted bright machined aluminum wheels. Lincoln Co-Pilot 360 Plus adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane centering, enhanced active park assist and a 360-degree camera. Go another step up to Reserve II ($9,000) and you’ll be treated to 21-in wheels, a cargo utility package and a class II trailer tow package. Reserve II is where the Revel 19-speaker premium audio upgrade becomes available.
The Nautilus Black Label ($63,800) adds a personal Lincoln liaison, complimentary extended maintenance and car washes and a restaurant guide plus three interior themes: Gala, Chalet and Thoroughbred. The 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 engine and AWD both come standard on every Black Label model.
Optional on all trims is a rear-seat DVD entertainment system ($1,995). Ultra Comfort 22-way massaging front seats ($1,500) with power thigh extender and head restraints are optional on Reserve I, Reserve II and Black Label models.
The Nautilus comes with a plethora of safety systems including hill start assist, electronic traction and stability control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist and automatic high beams. Upgrading to the optional Lincoln Co-Pilot 360 Plus system adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane centering, enhanced active park assist and a 360-degree camera. Airbag coverage includes front, front side-impact, side curtain and driver’s knee.
In crash testing, the government gives the 2020 Nautilus a 5-star overall rating, earning five stars in the front and side-impact tests and four stars in the rollover test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Nautilus its highest rating of Good in every crash test and a Superior in the Front Crash Prevention test. However, the IIHS was not impressed with the standard headlight setup, giving it a Poor rating for its low-beam dispersion pattern.
Behind the Wheel
Editor Michael Harley spent some time behind the wheel of the new Lincoln Nautilus and came away with the following impressions:
With available adaptive suspension and generous sound deadening, the 2020 Lincoln Nautilus is both comfortable and quiet on the open road. The suspension absorbs nearly all the pavement breaks and bumps effortlessly but some of the larger impacts do jolt — blame much of that harshness on the large 21-in 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.
The base engine in the Nautilus is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. While this engine (rated at 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque) is down on overall hp compared to the base V6 in the old MKX, 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 the MKX’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. FWD remains standard, with AWD on the options list.
Saving the best for last, every Lincoln comes with concierge-like 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 complimentary membership to CLEAR, the company that expedites consumers through airport 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.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Cadillac XT5 — The XT5 has a stronger standard engine but can’t match the Nautilus’ 2.7-liter twin-turbo option. The Lincoln offers more cargo space but the two are pretty similar on price, features, ride and handling.
2020 Jaguar F-Pace — The F-Pace costs considerably more than the Nautilus, with a more modern design, more athletic driving characteristics and a range of more powerful engines, including a diesel.
2020 Lexus RX 350 — The RX 350 has a much better track record in the areas of reliability and resale, plus it offers the option of a hybrid powertrain. The RX also costs a bit more than the Nautilus but holds its value far better.
2020 Audi Q5 — The Q5 offers a more luxurious interior and better fuel economy but it’s not as roomy on the inside nor does its standard equipment list match that of the base Nautilus’. The Audi name, however, holds far more clout than does Lincoln.
For the combination of price, features and options, we’d go with the Reserve trim. It’s nicely equipped and we like the availability of Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus. We’d also upgrade to the 2.7-liter engine given that its impressive power comes at almost no cost to fuel economy. Find a Lincoln Nautilus for sale