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2019 Lincoln Nautilus Preview

It's still a Lincoln MKX (so it's still a Ford Edge), but the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus manages to improve in the most important ways, with more style and technology.

The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus is Ford’s latest take on the mid-size, two-row premium crossover segment, replacing the MKX nameplate without ditching the Ford Edge-based underpinnings. It arrives in dealers in spring 2018.

As of this writing, Lincoln has only announced a pair of trim levels—the mid-grade Reserve and the range-topping Black Label—although that’s likely to change between now and its on-sale date. We expect a base Premiere and a volume Select trim will join the range, mirroring the rest of the Lincoln lineup.

While the Nautilus name is new, the vehicle it’s attached to isn’t, really. This is essentially a facelifted version of last year’s MKX, and as such, it already feels very familiar. The new front and rear fascias take heavy inspiration from Lincoln’s most recently redesigned models—the Continental and Navigator—with prominent rectangular grilles with the same chrome-laden pattern featured on the Nautilus’ larger siblings.

The shapely headlights look like carbon copies of the Continental’s lamps, but feel like a more natural fit to a vehicle the Nautilus’ size. They sit above a sliver of glass that houses the turn signals—this look comes from the Navigator, although we aren’t as certain it works here. The slim turn signals look too much like whiskers, giving the front of a car a borderline feline appearance. In back, Nautilus-specifc changes are kept to a minimum—that’s a good thing, since the MKX was always most attractive from behind.

In the category of things that haven’t changed sits the Nautilus’ profile. That’s not unusual for a mid-cycle update like this, but it’s also not a bad thing. The long, low profile works well with the new front and rear clips, to the point that it’s even more difficult to connect the dots back to the mainstream Ford Edge on this car than on the MKX.

The cabin update isn’t quite as successful. While Lincoln attached new and improved materials to the seats, dash, and doors, it seems to have forgotten the center stack, which is still just a large sheet of hard, black plastic with a touchscreen in the middle. It’s a wart on the face of an otherwise attractive interior.

The Nautilus’ cabin remains a roomy, functional place. As this is a refresh, the Nautilus’ interior dimensions are identical to the MKX, which means there’s a healthy 39.6 inches of second-row legroom. The Nautilus’ second-row folds totally flat, although it’s unclear if that improvement has any impact on the MKX’s max of 68.6 cubic feet of cargo space. With the second row in place we don’t anticipate any change in the 37.2-cu-ft trunk.

The Nautilus has plenty of tech working in its favor, starting with cushy 22-way front seats that offer a huge range of adjustability and a fatigue-reducing massage function. An available 19-speaker Revel audio system and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster take care of the ears and the eyes. The standard Sync 3 infotainment system boasts Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Active safety equipment is a huge part of the Nautilus package. While Lincoln hasn’t released specifics on which technologies are standard on which trims, it has announced that virtually every piece of driver assistance tech on the market will arrive on the Nautilus. That includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality and a lane-centering system, evasive steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, active park assist, and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist.

Lincoln is going with an all turbocharged engine lineup for the 2019 Nautilus, dropping the MKX’s old base engine—a naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V-6—in favor of the familiar 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder from the MKC. Look for 245 horsepower and around 280 pound-feet of torque in this application. For those in need of extra power, a 2.7-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 pumps out 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Each engine works alongside an eight-speed automatic transmission and features stop-start technology as standard.

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