For 2021, Lincoln’s Nautilus SUV is updated with an upgraded cabin that brings it into line with the rest of the family. Gone is the narrow, outdated cockpit of the outgoing model, replaced by a sweeping instrument panel endowed with a wide-aspect touchscreen, stretched air vents and wood appliqué that runs all the way across the dash. A lower control panel allows easy access to climate control functions and allows passengers a redundant way to access settings on the large screen.
We’ve been fans of Lincoln’s designs since the Navigator concept first swung open its gullwing door five years ago at the New York Auto Show. Since then, Lincoln has hit it out of the park with the production version of that flagship SUV, and later the handsome Aviator.
Now the midsized Nautilus, which competes with the likes of the Audi Q5, Cadillac XT5 and Lexus RX, gets a similar interior treatment with broad, horizontal lines, which designers say mimic the horizon and give occupants a sense of calm.
“You can see how we’ve brought it in line with the Aviator and Navigator,” says Robert Gelardi, Lincoln’s chief interior designer. “Everything from the position of the instrument panel, where we have the largest display in our lineup, to bringing in the Lincoln signature piano-key shifter. It was all about getting that cockpit to make you feel like you’re in this mental-sanctuary space.”
As before, the standard Nautilus is powered by a 250 hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine, but the one to get is the top-of-the-line Black Label (starting at $65,090), powered by a 335 hp, 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V-6. In addition to the power bump, the Black Label version of the Nautilus gets a few extra styling details inside and out, with interior themes such as “Chalet,” which clothes the cabin in cream-colored leather with perforations in the shape of the brand’s star emblem.
Black Label customers also get Lincoln’s suite of upgraded perks, such as personalized concierge services, at-home pickup and delivery and a premium four-year maintenance plan. We also drove the Nautilus prior to the interior redesign and found the 2021 Nautilus Black Label nearly silent in comparison, with no noise from the tires and only slight wind from the A pillar at high speeds.
The design of the interior now flows seamlessly with the exterior design, which was updated for the 2019 model year. The result is a midsize crossover that’s equally at home in front of Nobu in Malibu or at the In-n-Out Burger drive-through. With the row of shifter buttons tucked discreetly beneath the center stack, the center console is free to hold our milkshakes and phones as we drive up Pacific Coast Highway, and makes for a handy shelf when we park to enjoy our Double-Doubles. Despite the light-colored upholstery and elegant appointments, the Nautilus retains a sense of day-to-day livability not always found in luxury vehicles.
“What we tried to imbue in Nautilus is the authenticity and the right combination of those ingredients, so that when you get out of the car, you want to get back in,” Gelardi says. “Just like the perfect orchestra with the perfect combination of instruments.”