2021 Lincoln Nautilus Pros vs Cons. Should You Buy?
With an an all-new redesigned interior, more exterior color choices, and a host of tech upgrades, the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus comes in strong as a lead contender in the mid-size luxury SUV segment. Having replaced the MKX back in 2019, the Nautilus brought with it a more contemporary sense of luxury. The MKX wasn't selling well due to its bland, outdated nature. Now, the Nautilus is making Lincoln the class-leading luxury automaker it was years ago. But just what is there to like about the Nautilus? And what is still holding it back from perfection? Let's go over that and compare it to a few top contenders in its segment to see how the 2021 Nautilus stacks up - and whether it is the right SUV for you.
What's New for 2021?
New for 2021 is a revised interior with a longer, lower dashboard that generates a better sense of space. Lincoln's designers have expressed how this style choice was inspired by a view of the ocean's long, vast horizon. A few new color options open up this year as well: Sandstone (a neutral sandy tone) and Black Ebony with Roast accents (in other words, black and deep brown) are both new. There is also the Sync 4, which is new alongside a 13.2-inch infotainment screen. This system is designed to be more like a smartphone than anything, which should make it even easier to use than the out-going Sync 3.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Lincoln Nautilus – The Pros
1. A Quiet Cabin
There is no doubt that Lincoln is a luxury automaker given their skill at creating a quiet cabin. The only time you will hear the optional V6 turbo engine is when you take the Nautilus for a spin on the highway. Around town, it is tranquil and well-mannered. Road, tire, and wind noise are all kept to a bare minimum with a superb amount of insulation.
2. An Abundance of Space
Fore and aft, the Nautilus has a spacious design that can comfortably seat five adults. There is plenty of legroom all around, which is something taller occupants will appreciate. Nobody will be having to scoot a front seat up just to free leg space for folks in the back. Even the cargo area is more spacious than average with 37.2 cubic feet of cargo space that maxes out to 68.8 cubes when the rear seats are folded down. Bulkier cargo is easy enough to load and unload too.
3. Cozy, Highly Adjustable Seats
The seats are all sculpted for comfort. The front seats have a wide range of power adjustments, and there is plenty of lumbar support packed into them. Bolstering also feels appropriately shaped. Want some extra comfort? Opt for the massaging function. It is one of the better massagers we've come across in a luxury vehicle. If you make long trips every day, these seats are optimal for comfort.
4. The Optional V6 Turbo Engine
The standard 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine is a snooze-fest, but the optional V6 turbo engine is rather exciting. It delivers a smooth supply of power from the transmission to the wheels. You have to upgrade to the Reserve or Black Label to get it, but its 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque is a stark difference when pitted against the 4-cylinder's miserly 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.
5. The New Sync 4 and 13.2-inch Screen
The Sync 4 infotainment system is one of the better ones around. It is a rather all-encompassing one, and what's more is that its features work well. Its smartphone-esque design should help users feel accustomed to it from the get-go, and the 13.2-inch touchscreen means that you get bigger buttons with clearer graphics. Over-the-air updates come standard, and natural voice recognition actually lives up to its name, recognizing natural speech patterns and using them to work multiple controls.
6. More Interior Color Options
Who doesn't love having options? The returning Chalet color scheme is gorgeous, but there are now more options with the additions of Black Ebony with Roast accents and Sandstone. You also get a ton of options on the Black Label, ranging from a gunmetal hue to creamy white. You can even get the Aviator's Flight treatment for the first time ever on the Nautilus.
7. Lincoln Co-Pilot 360
Lincoln offers a standard array of driver aids bundled into the Co-Pilot 360 (or, if you upgrade, Co-Pilot 360 Plus) package. This gives you lane departure mitigation, forward collision warning, and a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert. Opting for the Plus package adds on automatic lane centering, adaptive cruise control, automatic perpendicular and parallel parking, and a 360-degree surround-view camera system. Either way, you get a lot of features packed in to help keep you safe on the road. And, to demonstrate their skills, Lincoln has made sure that these features work well without being invasive.
8. A Redesigned Front Fascia
If you notice some exterior changes this model year, it could be due to the revised front fascia. The grille is newly sculpted, and the headlights have also been reshaped. Together, the front end looks way more up-to-date than it used to and is more reminiscent of what you see on other Lincoln SUVs.
9. Great Outward Visibility
Whether you're looking forward, to the side, or in the rear-view, you get a pretty clear view of what is around you without needing to rely on the back-up camera or surround-view system. Blind spots are minimal, and the slender roof pillars ensure a nice, wide view. The taller seating position up front also helps with that, which is beneficial for shorter drivers.
10. LATCH is Easy to Use
If you have small children, you might know the pains of dealing with a cramped rear seat. Child safety seats can be bulky and difficult to install. But even rear-facing child seats can easily be put into the Nautilus' back seat. The anchors are not buried between the seat cushions, which makes the bases easier to install and remove as necessary.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Lincoln Nautilus – The Cons
1. The Base Engine's Lackluster Performance
The 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine is pretty bland when stacked up against the competition. It is slow to accelerate and requires a lot of patience from the driver. Trying to pass other vehicles on the highway is a chore. That is why many drivers will spend more on the higher-powered V6 engine.
2. The Optional Panoramic Sunroof Cuts Down Rear Head Space
If you opt to get the panoramic sunroof, it will take off head space in the rear seat. This is because of the way that it is positioned on the roof and how the roof gently slopes downward. Taller occupants might be a bit bothered by it even though everyone else should be fine. Still, you might want to stay away from it if you plan on having taller folks in the back seat a lot.
3. An Obnoxious Push-button Gear Selector
The push-button gear selector is annoying, to say the least. A standard gear selector makes more sense, as these buttons are prone to wearing down over time and can be frustrating to have to mash on. Switching to a standard gear selector would make more sense and drive fewer drivers crazy while trying to operate it.
4. Unimpressive Fuel Economy
The V6 is a spunky enough engine, but it compromises fuel economy. It gets an EPA estimated 21 mpg combined, and really averages more between 14-15 mpg on longer, more rigorous jaunts. The V6 has a great amount of midrange thrust that makes the drive enjoyable, but you will soon find yourself wondering how you burned through so much gas.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Lincoln Nautilus vs. 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class is a segment leader, showcasing all of MB's latest tech and styling achievements. It prices more competitively than the Nautilus and offers a brilliant blending of performance and comfort - typical of MB indeed. Its design is sheer elegance and comes off as being even more expensive than it really is. Even in the rear seat, adults have plenty of room to stretch out and relax. And the fuel economy from the base 4-cylinder is strong for the segment. On the downside, the GLC-Class doesn't have as competitive storage space, towing capacity, or warranty coverage.
2021 Lincoln Nautilus vs. 2021 Acura RDX
The 2021 Acura RDX is another strong contender this model year. Its price point is also lower than the Nautilus', and its cargo area and cabin are remarkably spacious. Steering and handling are also engaging on the RDX, making for a spirited performance overall. The cabin is adorned with gorgeous trim befitting a luxury SUV, and there is a vast amount of standard and available tech that rivals what Lincoln offers. Unfortunately, you cannot choose another powertrain, so there aren't any sporty V6s here. Also, the options all get bundled into expensive packages instead of giving you affordable stand-alone options.
Overall, the 2021 Lincoln Nautilus is a welcome revision to a model that was once vastly outdated and - dare we say it - boring. With the V6 equipped on one of the upper trim levels, you can really have some fun with this mid-size luxury SUV. We would recommend staying away from the 4-cylinder and not adding the panoramic sunroof since you will likely want to keep interior space at a maximum. But you certainly won't be at a loss for comfort or luxury here. And don't forget about those optional massaging front seats! Your spine might thank you for adding them if you do a lot of driving.
• Why buy a 2020 Lincoln Nautilus? w/ pros vs cons