2024 Lincoln Nautilus First Drive Review: Is ‘Good’ Good Enough?

2024 Lincoln Nautilus First Drive Review: Is ‘Good’ Good Enough? photo
2024 Lincoln Nautilus First Drive Review: Is ‘Good’ Good Enough? photo

“Bigger is better” has been the unofficial motto of American luxury cars—and, arguably, America itself—since at least the Cadillacs and Lincolns of the 1950s. These days, though, it’s screen size we’re concerned about rather than exterior dimensions, and fittingly, Ford’s luxury arm has set out to conquer that frontier with a 48-inch panoramic display in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus.

Stepped into the dash and sitting at roughly eye level, the Android Automotive-powered ultra-widescreen is the centerpiece of Lincoln’s redesigned and now Chinese-built midsize crossover. It’s a clever and surprisingly unobtrusive piece of kit, but I’m not sure it’s enough to save the Nautilus—and Lincoln as a whole—from the throes of mediocrity.

2024 Lincoln Nautilus Black Label. <em>Maddox Kay.</em>
2024 Lincoln Nautilus Black Label. Maddox Kay.

The Basics

OK, maybe mediocrity is a bit harsh. The Lincoln Nautilus is a nice car. And it should be, with a starting price of $52,655 which swells to $77,990 when you select the range-topping Black Label hybrid model.


The Nautilus comes in three main trim levels: Premiere, Reserve, and Black Label, all of which offer two powertrain choices: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, or the same 2.0-liter configured as a conventional hybrid with two electric motors and a continuously variable automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is now standard.

All models come with the panoramic display from the get-go. The Premiere and Reserve trims offer optional “II” packages which unlock four years of Ford’s BlueCruise hands-free highway driving aid, a 14-speaker Revel sound system, and Lincoln’s new “Digital Scent” experience, among other features. The Reserve’s optional “III” package bumps the speaker count to 28 and adds 24-way “Perfect Position” front seats—both standard equipment on Black Label cars. Other Black Label upgrades consist mostly of exclusive interior and exterior themes and style features.

Driving Experience

I drove both powertrains in Black Label trim, and the hybrid is the one you want. For a nominal $1,500 upgrade on any trim level, you get 50 more horsepower and six additional combined mpg. It’s not that the gas-only Nautilus is bad, but the power difference off the line is noticeable, as are the engine’s higher revs and effort level without the aid of electric motors.

The eight-speed automatic offers no means to manually select gears apart from a “low” button, and it hunted for the right gear on our mountainous test loop. By contrast, the hybrid’s e-CVT kept the engine and my heart rate relaxed, as they should be in a Lincoln.

Body motions are well-controlled through sweeping turns thanks to adaptive damping, and the Nautilus’ steering is accurate and well-weighted for daily driver duty. I noticed a slightly squishy, hard-to-modulate brake pedal around town in the hybrid, but by the end of my drive, I’d gotten used to it and could manage smooth stops.