You are forgiven if you haven’t thought about the Lincoln Nautilus very much lately. Or Lincoln at all. As The Drive recently pointed out, it’s a brand that seems to be in a dead sprint toward “Where are they now?” status. But Ford’s luxury brand is supposedly coming out with new stuff, and this new-for-2024 Nautilus actually seems… well, kind of interesting. An interesting Lincoln. It’s been a minute since that happened.
Lincoln showed off this new Nautilus yesterday ahead of its debut at Auto Shanghai, which is getting all of the new car news this year instead of the New York Auto Show from two weeks ago. (That’s the world we’re in these days, folks.) It’s fitting here, because the Nautilus will be built in China; as Automotive News pointed out, when it goes on sale in America, it will be Lincoln’s first-ever “import” from another country.
The Nautilus has been around since 2019 when it replaced the old MKX. My folks had an MKX for a bit; it was nice and drove just fine, but it also looked and felt like the also-ran luxury car behind the leading brands that it was. With this, however, Lincoln is trying to get into the conversation a bit more.
Besides the country it was built in, which is interesting enough, the Nautilus packs several features that make it more notable than its predecessors. First off: that interior. That’s a 48-inch screen sweeping across the entire dashboard. But somehow, probably because it’s so narrow, it manages to be a little more tasteful than some of these all-screen, all-the-time options out there. (Looking at you, Mercedes-Benz.) It’s actually two 24.0-inch screens, and a central 11-inch touchscreen sits in the center to operate the main controls. The right screen can also be turned off entirely if it’s too much. Like I said, tasteful.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Nautilus isn’t an EV. (Speaking of the Mach-E, when do the luxury versions of that platform get here?) It is a hybrid, however. The top powertrain choice is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a battery-motor system that’s good for 310 total system horsepower. The standard option is a 2.0-liter turbo four with 250 hp; that gets an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the hybrid gets a CVT. All-wheel-drive is standard.
It also has—get this—colors. While I’m sure the Nautilus will come in the standard black, white, gray, gray-gray, very gray, dark gray and silver tones luxury crossover buyers demand, it also has options like Red Carpet, Diamond Red, Chroma Caviar and Blue Panther, and the interior even has “themes” called Smoked Truffle and Allura Blue. Colors! Imagine that.
Other features here include wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Lincoln’s take on the latest BlueCruise ADAS system, and “specially curated digital scents for the cabin” where users can select their level of smell-intensity.
Will buyers care, or even really know, that this car is from China? I find that doubtful. The Polestar 2 is too, and everybody digs that thing (including me.) While the Chinese brands will have a tough time breaking into the U.S. auto market, we can expect a few more cars from our automakers to be built there in the coming years.
We’ll see if the new Nautilus can be the “game-changer” Lincoln says it is. But whenever it drops, I’m curious enough to see how it drives. And smells.