2019 Lin­coln Nau­tilus boosts fuel econ­omy, safety fea­tures

Texarkana Gazette - - AUTO - By Mark Phe­lan

SANTA BAR­BARA, Calif.— Re­named, restyled and sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved, the 2019 Lin­coln Nau­tilus will of­fer loads more stan­dard safety equip­ment and sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter fuel econ­omy when it re­places the MKX mid­size SUV in deal­er­ships this Oc­to­ber.

Lin­coln has strug­gled for years to get buy­ers' at­ten­tion, due to a small and some­what for­get­table prod­uct line. The Nau­tilus's sim­ple, mem­o­rable name and new front styling con­sis­tent with the wildly pop­u­lar Nav­i­ga­tor big SUV should help with those prob­lems. In ad­di­tion to the grille, the Nau­tilus's hood, head­lights and fend­ers with Con­ti­nen­tal-style name­plates are new. The rest of the body is un­changed from the MKX.

The Nau­tilus com­petes with five-pas­sen­ger lux­ury SUVs in­clud­ing the Cadil­lac XT5 and Lexus RX. Prices start at $40,340, be­low the XT5 and RX, base-priced at $41,695 and $43,570, re­spec­tively.

I spent a day driv­ing Nau­tiluses on the hills and high­ways of Cal­i­for­nia's Cen­tral Coast. Most of my time was at the wheel of a 335-horse­power V-6 Nau­tilus AWD Re­serve that cost $65,120. All prices ex­clude des­ti­na­tion charges.

Black La­bel magic

The Nau­tilus is quiet, smooth and lux­u­ri­ous—par­tic­u­larly in top-of-the­line Black La­bel trim. Black La­bel prices start at $56,895 for a fron­twheel drive mode with a 2.0-liter en­gine. Black La­bel ac­counted for about 5 per­cent of MKX sales. Based on my time in a $65,640 Black La­bel with all-wheel drive, V-6 and the Chalet color scheme, that may rise in the Nau­tilus. The Chalet in­te­rior has white leather seats per­fo­rated in a pat­tern rem­i­nis­cent of Lin­coln's star badge, black leather on the dash and con­sole and striped wood trim.

The Nau­tilus has plenty of pas­sen­ger room, stor­age bins and an ex­cep­tion­ally ac­com­mo­dat­ing cargo com­part­ment. Ac­tive noise can­cel­la­tion, acous­tic-lam­i­nated rear side win­dows and other in­su­la­tors keep the in­te­rior quiet at high­way speed and over rough sur­faces.

The blue and gray Nau­tilus Re­serve I drove first was roomy and com­fort­able, but im­me­di­ately for­get­table once I got into the Black La­bel Chalet.

All Nau­tiluses have a touch screen that in­cludes An­droid Auto and Ap­ple CarPlay. The in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem also uses Ap­pLink to work with Waze nav­i­ga­tion, Ama­zon's Alexa and more.

Lat­est and great­est safety fea­tures The Nau­tilus is the first ve­hi­cle with Lin­coln's CoPilot360 pack­age, which in­cludes ef­fec­tive safety fea­tures like pedes­trian de­tec­tion, au­to­matic front emer­gency brak­ing, au­to­matic high beams and blind spot alert.

Other avail­able safety and driver as­sis­tance fea­tures in­clude adap­tive cruise con­trol and lane cen­ter­ing. In com­bi­na­tion, they take much of the work out of high­way driv­ing.

The Nau­tilus is the first Lin­coln with eva­sive steer­ing as­sist. It in­creases the boost to the power steer­ing sys­tem when the Nau­tilus's radar de­ter­mines a col­li­sion is im­mi­nent and the driver be­gins to turn the wheel. The ob­ject is to make the car re­act more quickly, avoid­ing or re­duc­ing the ac­ci­dent's sever­ity. Eva­sive steer­ing as­sist works in con­junc­tion with the au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing.

Hap­pily, I didn't ex­pe­ri­ence ei­ther of those fea­tures dur­ing my drive, but the ACC and lane cen­ter­ing worked un­ob­tru­sively and ef­fec­tively. Own­ers will al­most cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate on them dur­ing long drives.

New driv­e­trains, higher fuel econ­omy

All Nau­tiluses have a new eight­speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion that's quick, smooth and im­proves fuel econ­omy sub­stan­tially.

A new 250-hp 2.0L en­gine re­places the 303-hp 3.7L V-6 that was the MKX' s base power plant. The 2.0L Nau­tilus's fuel econ­omy in­creases 3 mpg in com­bined city and high­way driv­ing with the 2.0L and eight-speed ver­sus the 3.7L V-6 and six-speed trans­mis­sion.

An op­tional 335-hp 2.7L V-6 car­ries over from the MKX, but the eight-speed im­proves that EPA rat­ing too, adding 2 mpg test­ing for mpg city, high­way and com­bined driv­ing.

In AWD mod­els with ei­ther en­gine, the en­gine dis­con­nects from the prop shaft to the rear axle when there's no wheel spin. That re­duces fric­tion and helps fuel econ­omy.

The Nau­tilus isn't in­tended to be a sporty ve­hi­cle, but the AWD 2.7L I drove had plenty of power to climb hills and pass on high­ways. The steer­ing was lin­ear and well-weighted. I used the sport mode for most of my driv­ing.

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