2019 Lincoln Nautilus Black Label Review
2019 Lincoln Nautilus Black Label Review By Auto Critic Steve Hammes
Lincoln executives realize that alphabet soup can be really confusing to their customers so they’re reinstating real names to their vehicles like Continental and now Nautilus. This is the successor to the MKX; a luxury, midsize SUV with a new turbocharged engine range.
Lincoln’s rebirth has been slow going but it’s finally hit its stride with new products such as Navigator, Aviator and the upcoming Corsair. The Nautilus and its sibling the Ford Edge date back to the 2015 model year but a recent freshening has kept them relevant players and Lincoln customers have responded accordingly; Nautilus sales have jumped nearly 20% this year. Though I miss the split-wing grille, the Nautilus has the goods to warrant a double take. Lincoln’s styling game is on point and this top-trim Black Label model benefits from these standout 21” wheels. But the real oh-wow moment comes once you move inside where Lincoln flexes its boutique brand muscles to produce a cabin worthy of praise.
Lincoln introduced the Black Label program 5 years ago and it’s available across most of their vehicle lineup with the exceptions of the MKZ and MKT. Black Label models are sold in a select number of mostly stand-alone Lincoln dealerships concentrated in metropolitan areas. They come with unique interior design themes and include a host of ever expanding premium experiences and concierge services ranging from complimentary car washes and annual detailing to your own Culinary Concierge giving owners access to reservations at hard-to-book restaurants. The list of perks is extensive. Black Label models are priced anywhere from $6,500 to over $11,000 more than the next highest trim level. This Nautilus has the Chalet Theme with beautiful Cashmere leather. A soft Alcantara headliner flanks the large panoramic sunroof and the Silverwood appliques are beautiful. There’s welcome lighting as you approach the Nautilus including the logo projection and bright LED lighting inside along with changeable ambient colors.
New for Nautilus, this Chalet Theme joins Gala and Thoroughbred in the Black Label trio of offerings. The sumptuous Venetian leather seats with the Lincoln Star pattern can be adjusted 22 ways, feature massage and are a perfect place to enjoy the spectacular, 19-speaker Revel Ultima audio system that’s exclusive to the Lincoln brand. And there’s still a CD player in here for those who are so inclined. Active Noise Control keeps the cabin placid. You sit up high – I actually wish I could lower the driver’s seat even farther because I feel a little too close to the roof – and the 360 degree camera enhances visibility. The push button transmission is unique, there’s a convenient and appropriately sized wireless charging pad in here and numerous clever storage locations. SYNC is looking a little dated and rudimentary but it’s a touchscreen so it’s really easy to navigate. Steering wheel controls and driver center features help you explore the Nautilus’ electronic offerings but certain things – like Lincoln Drive Control settings – should exist outside of here for easier access.
Rear seats are heated and recline to provide abundant passenger space and the cargo area can be accessed with a kick of the foot and includes remote switches for dropping the seats. For a 2-row the sizing seems just right.
Front and all-wheel drive options exist with both the new 2.0-liter turbo and the carryover 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 – the same one found in the Edge ST. Mine has the 4-cylinder engine rated at 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. You can feed it regular gas to the tune of 22mpg – 1 mpg better than the V6. Power isn’t paltry but I’d happily take a little more zip along with greater refinement. For some comparison the Lexus RX produces 295 horsepower. Both engines are mated to a new 8-speed auto with stop/start and Sport mode.
I like the Nautilus but I imagine I’d like it a lot more with the twin-turbo V6…this 2.0-liter engine isn’t exactly simpatico with the Black Label’s American luxury posture. And the transmission lacks that same level of polish. Likewise, the 21” tires contribute to a ride quality that isn’t quite luxurious enough. But there’s no denying that Lincoln has the styling game and cabin design to steal market share from the heavy hitters.
There are adaptive dampers but there’s still a little edge to the ride that doesn’t need to be there. I want isolation from a Lincoln and nowadays that can be achieved without losing handling and feeling both of which the Nautilus does quite well.
And there are all kinds of radar and camera based safety features including adaptive cruise control with lane centering and steering assist that isn’t nearly as cool or as thorough as Cadillac’s SuperCruise but it can be helpful on long trips.
This Black Label Nautilus 2.0 AWD with options stickers for $65,560 and that comes with member privileges like pickup and delivery, premium maintenance, vehicle care and travel and culinary concierge services with seriously cool perks. I like what Lincoln is doing these days, becoming the boutique alternative to the mass market premium brands.