2019 Lincoln Nautilus charts a new course for Ford’s luxury brand

Ford’s Lincoln luxury brand tends to be pretty conservative these days, but it just made a fairly bold move. For the past couple of decades, it’s been fashionable for luxury brands to follow the German example of using alphanumeric codes instead of real names. Lincoln is done with that.

The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus is the replacement for the Lincoln MKX (itself a derivative of the Ford Edge). Debuting at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, the new crossover marks Lincoln’s shift away from an alphanumeric naming strategy. The automaker currently uses the Continental and Navigator names for tradition’s sake, but everything else in its lineup has a rather anonymous designation consisting of “MK” and a letter.

Along with the new name comes new exterior styling. The biggest change from the old MKX is a new front fascia that follows the lead of the Continental stylistically. The rectangular grille and headlights aren’t the most distinctive styling elements, but at least they look better here than on the recently face-lifted 2019 Lincoln MKC.

It may share a name with the world’s first nuclear submarine, but the Nautilus has a far more conventional propulsion system. A 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 with 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque carries over from the MKX. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine used in the MKC replaces the old 3.7-liter V6 in base models. With 245 hp and 275 lb-ft, it’s less powerful than the old engine, but will probably be more fuel efficient. The Nautilus gets an eight-speed automatic transmission, with standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive.

The interior is still recognizable as a face-lifted version of the MKX cabin, but buyers at least get a decent array of toys. A 19-speaker Revel audio system and 22-way power front seats are on the options list, and the Nautilus features a 12.3-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster display. Like other Lincoln models, the Nautilus uses parent Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The interior can also be dressed up with different “Black Label” design packages, including one inspired by the haute couture New York’s Met Gala.

Alongside the launch of the Nautilus, Lincoln is launching and expanding different services for customers. Beginning in January, new Lincoln owners will get a six-month complimentary membership for themselves and a second person in CLEAR, which lets members get through security faster at participating airports and arenas. Customers who join Lincoln’s Black Label program get yearlong memberships.

Lincoln is also expanding a pilot program that allows customers to book a professional driver to chauffeur them around in their own cars. It launched earlier this year in Miami and San Diego as Lincoln Chauffeur, but will be renamed Lincoln Personal Driver ahead of an expansion to Dallas.

Finally, Lincoln is launching a pilot car subscription service. Beginning next year, drivers in certain parts of California will be able to pay a monthly fee and get access to a car whenever they need one, without actually making the commitment of buying or leasing. Lincoln parent Ford already operates a similar service called Canvas, and Cadillac and Porsche have their own subscription services as well.


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