Ford’s premium brand Lincoln refreshed the MKX. Although the Navigator is probably the most well-known Lincoln, MKX has been the best seller of the brand. It was first introduced in the 2004 North American International Auto Show as a successor to the first gen Aviator. It is the first Lincoln SUV which is in production since 2007. Second generation MKX went on sale first in 2016 and underwent mid-cycle revision this year.
Lincoln decided to phase out the “MK” model names, it adopted the Nautilus name in 2019. Although there is no radical change in terms of exterior and interior, it adopted front design from the Lincoln Continental. Rear design and taillights look similar compared to the previous year. Overall, exterior design looks great, especially refreshed front design along with the headlights and new grille used by other newer Lincoln models. The “Reserve” trim comes with LED headlights along with turbine style 21-inch wheels, and we think it makes the car look so much better than the base trim.
Interior of the MKX/Nautilus isn’t changed that much in 2019. There are minor changes, but the main design elements stayed the same. Of course, vertical shift buttons for gear selection is the signature of Lincoln interior design. It takes a little bit time to get used to, but once you get used to it, you will love it. And it saves a lot of space in the middle console too. The interior with a combination of soft-touch plastics and real wood has high-quality craftsmanship. Reserve trim level comes with leather seats, with massage function.
The massaging function adds more comfort to the driving experience especially in long drives, but the design of front seats isn’t the best. The base part of the seat is narrow so it may not be good for overweight people. Luckily, base trim offers wider seats, but you must opt out of massage seat option. You need to visit your Lincoln dealer and see if it works for you before deciding. Not only that, but the center console also has a floating design, which looks amazing, but it takes a lot of space. We felt cramped while driving which may be a deal breaker for some people, as it is one of the most appealing features in the SUV market. Rear legroom is excellent and there is no problem when it comes to the trunk size at all.
The refreshed Nautilus comes with the 4 cylinder 2.0L Ecoboost turbo engine as a base option, produces 245 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. This engine replaces the MKX’s 3.7 V6 engine, which was also used in many Ford vehicles. If you are willing to pay extra $3000, you can still choose V6, which is a 2.7L twin turbo Ecoboost that has 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with new eight speed automatic transmission and it works extremely smooth. Our tester has the 4-cylinder option, which is good on gas, and it also has start-stop feature. The acceleration and overall power are adequate for daily driving and as long as you stay within the speed limits, we think that you may not need the V6 engine, as the inline 4 turbocharged engine has plenty of torque in the mid-range and it also offers extremely silent and smooth driving experience with no turbo lag. All wheel drive system works pretty well, it is FWD biased system, but it works flawlessly on slippery surface. The tester also has an adaptive suspension system, we tried different driving modes, but it didn’t make a huge difference as there is always tons of body roll if you push it to its limits. Comfort driving mode is the way to go.
As expected from a luxury brand, Lincoln Nautilus is great when it comes to comfort. Sound isolation is at S-Class level, and it is full of features. Our tester has adaptive cruise, heated-cooled seats, infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, digital instrument cluster, adaptive suspension system, parking assistant, lane keep assist, front collision warning, 360-Degree camera, keyless entry, wireless charging pad, active noise control, blind spot monitoring and so on. We are surprised with the sound system and you should get that feature with the car. Revel Ultima Audio system has 19 speakers with 20-channel amplifier, and we think this is one of the best sound systems we ever tried so far. As always, we are not a fan of Ford’s infotainment system, it is not the worst, but it works slowly and the 360-degree camera belongs to 1990s, the resolution is not acceptable for a luxury SUV. Fortunately, they decided not to use same screen specs for the digital cluster, it works perfectly, and the screen resolution is great.
Lincoln MKX/Nautilus is one of the most successful SUVs in Ford-Lincoln’s SUV lineup and we think there is a reason for that. It has a lot of space, it is all wheel drive, luxurious, comfortable, and practical for families while offering everything in a premium packaging. It is the underdog alternative of premium luxury 2-row SUV class, as it has really strong competition. The refreshed MKX a.k.a. Nautilus starts at $48.950 CAD with the Select trim and goes all the way up to $54.050 CAD if you choose the Reserve trim. Since it is a luxury SUV, you should also add some optional features, so the total comes up to $65.000 level which is a bargain compared to its German rivals.
Things the Nautilus is good at
+ Excellent premium sound system – but optional
+ Smooth and fuel-efficient engine
Things the Nautilus needs to improve
– Front legroom
– Infotainment system and screen resolution
Article by Dan Gunay, pictures by Varol McKars