An all-new interior makes a huge difference.
Lincoln's design revolution continues with the 2021 Nautilus, which received an unexpected but very much welcomed refresh with the interior being the primary focus. The Lincoln Nautilus may look about the same from the outside for the new model year but its interior has been completely redesigned and it is stunning.
This transformation took considerable effort because the 2021 model's cabin looks nothing like it did last year. With design inspiration taken directly from the Aviator and Navigator, the Nautilus now sports an interior design completely different than that of its corporate cousin, the Ford Edge. The Nautilus nameplate only debuted in 2019. Before that, this midsize crossover was known as the MKX. Despite a recent rumor regarding the long-term future of both the Nautilus and Edge, this major interior redesign will no doubt keep the luxury crossover competitive against rivals from Germany, Japan, and South Korea.
Given that the Nautilus nameplate first appeared in 2019, no major exterior design changes have been made for the 2021 model. That's not necessarily a bad thing though we still wouldn't have minded seeing a few tweaks here and there. The front end design has been slightly refined and there are three new exterior colors: Asher Gray, Green Gem, and Lincoln Fight Blue.
The Nautilus' exterior styling still retains numerous design aspects shared with the larger Navigator SUV and the just-discontinued Continental sedan. In general, the vehicle offers a premium look though it's certainly not a segment standout. Standard and Reserve trims come standard with 18-inch wheels while 20- and 21-inch wheels are optional. The top-of-the-line Black Label has standard 21-inch alloys. Other notable exterior design items include standard automatic LED headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights. Full LED multi-projector headlights are standard on the Black Label. There's also a panoramic sunroof available on higher trims and a power liftgate for easier and hands-free access to the cargo area is also standard.
Lincoln spared no expense in this category. With its more Aviator-like dashboard design, the 2021 Nautilus comes standard with a huge 13.2-inch touchscreen equipped with the new SYNC4 infotainment system. Believe it or not, this is the largest screen size for the entire Lincoln brand. Also new is a piano key transmission shifter, also found on other new Lincolns.
The Nautilus also gains an array of new technologies, such as the Phone As A Key technology, which allows owners to use their smartphone, via an app, to start and drive the vehicle without a traditional key. The SYNC4 system, which has a brand-exclusive night sky Constellation theme, includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Sirius XM radio, and over-the-air updates.
Lincoln aims to emphasize a calming and quiet interior environment with its "Quiet Flight DNA". There are two new standard colors this year alongside two Lincoln Black Label themes, known as Chalet and Flight. Chalet has a ski lodge influence using Espresso and Alpine Venetian leathers and Silverwood trim. Flight, which won't be available until next year, exudes a sky-themed ambiance.
There are no changes under the hood for 2021. The Nautilus is motivated by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. The optional engine is the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 with a healthier 335 hp and 380 lb-ft on tap. Both engines come with standard start-stop technology and an eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels with the option of all-wheel drive. Lincoln has no plans to offer the Nautilus with either a hybrid or plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
Safety-conscious buyers will appreciate the standard Lincoln Co-Pilot 360, a technology that has a 360-degree camera with a front sensing system, adapting cruise control, and lane-centering technology. Black Label models get Co-Pilot 360 Plus that tacks on following distance alert, active parking assist, and a surround-view camera.
Lincoln has not announced official pricing for the 2021 Nautilus but it should be very similar to the 2020 model, which began at $41,080 and reached about $64,000 fully-loaded. Production will continue to take place in Oakville, Ontario.
The Nautilus will face stiff competition from the likes of completely redesigned Acura MDX, Cadillac XT5, Audi Q5, and Lexus RX. For those who desire a premium interior with a huge touchscreen and a general emphasis on quietness, the 2021 Nautilus should be at the top of your list.