2021 Lincoln Nautilus: Subtle Changes, Nicer Digs

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Competes with: Acura MDX, Lexus RX, Infiniti QX60, Genesis GV80

Looks like: The rest of the Lincoln SUV lineup, but mid-size

Powertrain: 250-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder or 335-hp, turbo 2.7-liter V-6; eight-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Early 2021

Lincoln has been having a banner year despite all that’s gone on and wants to keep that momentum rolling into 2021 with an updated version of its mid-size Nautilus SUV. Slotting between the three-row (Ford Explorer-based) Aviator and the compact (Ford Escape-based) Corsair, the mid-size (Ford Edge-based) Nautilus hits the sweet spot of the popular luxury market. Lincoln hopes to keep interest strong by giving the SUV a light styling update, a significantly refreshed interior and a new multimedia system. 

Related: 2020 Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator Try Again and Succeed in Safety Ratings

Exterior

Even Lincoln’s stylists admit that the outside changes to the 2021 Nautilus are extremely subtle. The tweaks help bring the Nautilus’ exterior design more in line with the truly lovely Aviator’s styling and the similarly attractive Corsair. 

The lightly revised front end is pretty much the only exterior change — the rest of the styling has been left untouched, but Lincoln is offering three new colors for 2021: Asher Gray, Green Gem and signature Lincoln Flight Blue. A Monochromatic Package is available for the Asher Gray color. 

Interior

It’s here where the meat of Lincoln’s updates are focused, with a completely new dashboard and instrument panel incorporating Lincoln’s latest Sync 4 multimedia system. The look has been updated to mimic the rest of the Lincoln SUV lineup, with a totally different horizontal scheme that Lincoln calls a “coast-to-coast” horizon view. 

The push-button piano-key shifter returns, and the new multimedia screen sits atop everything in the tablet style that has become common in the industry. The screen is also now a 13.2-inch landscape-style model, the largest available in any Lincoln, and it runs the Sync 4 system with a new Constellation startup theme meant to evoke the night sky. The Phone as a Key technology also returns, allowing Nautilus owners to unlock, start and operate many aspects of the SUV via a smartphone app. 

Some new colors and themes are available inside, with two new standard interior colors (Sandstone and Black Ebony) and two Black Label range-topping themes: Chalet and Flight. Lincoln says that the Chalet theme “evokes contrasting pleasures of mountain slopes and the warm comfort of an apres-ski lodge.” It combines Espresso and Alpine Venetian leather with Silverwood trim appliques. Flight will be a later addition. 

Under the Hood

The two powertrain options are unchanged for 2021: Standard is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 250 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque, mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. The optional power plant is a twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 making 335 hp and 380 pounds-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive optional (AWD is standard on V-6 models).

Safety 

The 2021 Nautilus comes with the Lincoln Co-Pilot360 safety suite as standard and Co-Pilot360 Plus as an option, the latter bringing a 360-degree camera, front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane-centering technology, enhanced park assist and a host of other safety features. 

The updated SUV will be available in early 2021. 

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