isn’t necessarily on many drivers’ radar, but this luxury marque has been slowly and steadily improving its products. Making its debut Friday, the brand’s SUV has been nicely, if subtly, enhanced for 2021.
You probably won’t notice any of the exterior changes made to this utility vehicle because, well, they’re all incredibly minor. There’s a new chrome accent on the front end, the grille texture is updated, the fog-lamp placement is tweaked and there are a few fresh paint colors to choose from, and that’s about it. Similarly, no alterations were made to the vehicle’s chassis and its powertrains carry over. This includes a base 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that provides 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and an optional twin-turbo, 2.7-liter V6 rated at 335 hp and a stout 380 lb-ft. As before, an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment, as is fuel-saving automatic stop-start.
The big-deal new stuff is found inside the Nautilus’ cabin. This vehicle’s overhauled dashboard is much more horizontally arranged than before, with a look that brings to mind the largerand Navigator’s digs, complete with the Lincoln signature piano-key shifter, which I happen to love. This redesign includes new materials like real-wood trim and chrome accents, as well as fresh colors. Two Black Label cabin themes will also be offered: Chalet, which features light and dark-colored leathers; and Flight, which includes rich browns and swanky engine-turned accents. All these interior changes should make the Nautilus feel more premium and a better fit within the broader Lincoln lineup.
Along with that upgraded cabin, this vehicle also gains plenty of new technology. A generously sized 13.2-inch touchscreen pops up from the dashboard, the largest display in any Lincoln today. This panel is home to the Sync 4 infotainment system, which includes a new visual theme called Constellation. With a mostly blue color palette plus a smattering of orange accents, it was supposedly inspired by the night sky. This multimedia array’s user interface also looks clean and easy to navigate. For added convenience, both Sync 4 and the vehicle’s modem can receive over-the-air updates.
But there’s more technology to talk about. Lincoln’s niftyfeature finally makes its way to the Nautilus, enabling drivers to access their vehicle using a mobile device instead of the traditional fob. You can lock or unlock the doors, remotely start the engine, pop open the liftgate and even keep track of the vehicle’s location using the smartphone in your pocket or purse.
The 2021 Nautilus comes standard with plenty of advanced driver aids, though items like a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, a front-sensing system and lane centering are available in the Lincoln Co-Pilot 360 Plus package.
The Lincoln Nautilus should appeal to drivers who want something a little larger than the, Lincoln’s entry-level utility vehicle, but don’t need a vehicle with three rows of seats, which the posh Aviator and gargantuan both provide. Currently, the Nautilus makes up about 25% of Lincoln’s SUV sales, with women representing around 40% of that total. Drivers in North America and China are starting to notice the fruits of Lincoln’s hard work. Despite a devastating , the brand’s SUV sales are up by nearly 6% in North America in the third quarter of 2020. Year over year, Lincoln’s global sales improved a whopping 17% in the same time period, likely driven by steady growth in China.
As before, the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus SUV will be built in Oakville, Ontario, though it will also be assembled in China, the third of three nameplates the brand promised to make there. Per usual, things like pricing and fuel economy will be announced closer to its on-sale date. Expect this luxury vehicle to start arriving at dealerships early next year.