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2024 Lincoln Black Label Nautilus_Redwood_01.jpg
Lincoln’s panoramic screen is its best feature.

2024 Lincoln Nautilus Comfortable and Cool

The ’24 Lincoln Nautilus is a new design with an emphasis on interior comforts and features to attract new buyers.

PALM SPRINGS, CA – Defining luxury in the automotive space these days gets more difficult all the time. After all, a loaded Honda can feel like a better experience than an entry-level Mercedes-Benz. Into this confusing space comes a makeover of the Lincoln Nautilus for ’24, a splendid drive and an even better vehicle for simply sitting in when it’s parked in your driveway.

How’s that? Yes. The only premium brand in Ford’s stable is outfitted for owners to decompress and reach an aromatic and therapeutic Zen – via relaxing scents, massaging seats, music and visuals like the northern lights on a panoramic dash screen – while sitting in the driveway before going in the house to face whatever stresses await. It seems like a small niche, but Lincoln is convinced it’s an unmet need.

The ’24 Nautilus was released last year for the Chinese market and is arriving at U.S. dealerships now. The 5-seater, which comes with either a gasoline or hybrid gas-electric powertrain, is now exclusively built in China by the Changan Ford joint venture and exported. Ford can export from China as domestic Chinese automakers are giving Western companies like Ford fits and declining sales.

The biggest grin on the Nautilus is not under the hood, but in the sweeping, 48-in. (122-cm) screen that sits forward of the central screen and steering wheel in a two-level layout. While panoramic screens are growing in popularity, the statement made here in the Nautilus is exceptional. It’s as if Ford wanted to set up a drive-in movie theater for Barbie and Ken, who, incidentally, would have plenty of room on the dash to spread out and watch their movie.

The Nautilus Premiere ($51,810) comes with a turbocharged 2.0L inline 4-cyl. producing 250 hp and 280 lb.-ft. (380 Nm) of torque, mated to an 8-speed transmission. The Nautilus Reserve ($56,145) and Black Label trims ($75,860) come with a gas-electric hybrid system that includes the same 2.0L mated to a PowerSplit continuously variable transmission. The hybrid produces 300 hp and 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque.

The hybrid’s payoff is fuel economy of 30/31 mpg (7.8-7.6 L/100 km), compared with 21/29 mpg (11.2-8.1 L/100 km) for the straight ICE version.

The performance of both powertrains is adequate but not exciting by any means. And the hybrid exhibited some lag when entering the highway. Ford knows its Lincoln buyer base though and knows nobody is buying a Lincoln for driving excitement of the vroom-vroom variety. The Nautilus is built for comfort rather than speed, and in this way it excels.


Back to the driveway “sanctuary.” Lincoln calls this feature “Rejuvenate,” which allowed us, while parked, to recline the seat and turn on the massaging feature. Then, we turned on Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” – our choice – had the 48-in. screen display the aurora borealis in rich active graphics, and we kicked on the Mystic Forest scent. Other stock scents include “Ozonic Azure” and “Violet Cashmere.” Okay. Substitute the northern lights with a YouTube feed of your favorite NFL team? But then I’d wonder why I wasn’t inside my house or hotel (if traveling) watching it on a big TV. The market demand for this experience is unknown, but Lincoln seems positive it exists.

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UX and Hands-Free Driving

Lincoln’s brand positioning these days revolves around the “sanctuary” concept – being as much of an extension of one’s home and office as possible, but the driver is fully in control—unlike when they are at home with family or at work. To that end, the designers and lead product managers have succeeded. There is new ambient lighting with crystal-inspired details, such as a large user-friendly audio volume dial in the center console. The piano-key shifter is a welcome contrast to the fussy steering-column-mounted electronic shifters favored by other automakers. A new flat-top steering wheel allows drivers to see over, not through, the wheel.

The sweeping display and the 11.1-in. (28-cm) center-stack screen are set up to be personalized by the driver, raising the preferred information of their choice to so it’s easy to keep eyes on the road where they should be.

Apps and services from Google and Amazon can be accessed through the native experience, as well as through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We tested both, and while Google and Amazon services worked flawlessly, we preferred the map feed from our phones for greater and more familiar control of route.

Voice commands to play music and find points of interest also worked without having to repeat commands. We used Alexa in-vehicle controls to set the cabin temperature, and Google Assistant to ask some questions about upcoming calendar dates and information about this year’s election day to test the system. Passing grades on all.

The Lincoln Digital Experience allows easy connectivity with apps such as Spotify and Audible, downloaded from the Google Play store, which makes it easy to stream by voice command. SiriusXM with 360L is embedded in the vehicle. While parked, drivers can surf the web using the available Vivaldi Browser app – as well as Chrome coming soon – or watch streaming videos via YouTube and Prime Video. Videoconferencing apps will soon be available to enable audio access while driving and will display the incoming video feed of participants while parked.

The Nautilus comes with BlueCruise features including Lane Change Assist, allowing a driver to switch lanes hands-free with the tap of the turn signal when the path is clear, and In-Lane Repositioning, which helps provide more space by subtly shifting away from vehicles in adjacent lanes.

This system differs from General Motors’ Super Cruise, which has an automatic lane-change feature, setting it apart from BlueCruise in congested or complex highway driving situations. BlueCruise requires the driver to change lanes, which Ford says is intentional for a more comfortable and familiar driving experience for its customers.

Lincoln is playing in treacherous waters here by courting comparisons with the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac XT5, Lexus RX and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class.

Decades ago, Lincoln was a big player, but today it is niche, compared with those nameplates and remains Ford’s problem child in terms of volume and return-on-investment. Lincoln globally sold a bit more than 158,000 units last year, including almost 82,000 in the U.S., per Wards Intelligence. Sales abroad primarily were in the Middle East, South Korea and China.

Nautilus probably would attract more buyers in the U.S. if it had a different brand on it. But it matters that the product is well-turned-out and very user-friendly. Lincoln has certainly created attractive bait for more and younger buyers. Let’s see if they bite.

TAGS: Vehicles
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