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Refreshed 2021 Lincoln Nautilus gets a new interior aimed at elevating the model

The Lincoln Nautilus has gotten a substantial interior upgrade as part of a mid-cycle refresh.

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

Lincoln replaced the MKX with the Nautilus in 2019 and now, at the three-model year mark, the SUV is undergoing a refresh that aims to up the ante on the elegance inside the two-row midsize SUV.

"Nautilus plays a critical role in bringing new clients to the brand, especially those who are looking for the flexibility of a larger midsize SUV and appreciate the luxurious features and design that set Lincoln apart," said Michael Sprague, North America director, Lincoln. "The intent for the new Nautilus was refinement, rounding out our distinct lineup of SUVs – truly creating sanctuary."

2021 Lincoln NautilusThe Nautilus now offers the largest infotainment screen in its segment.Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

The new interior is designed to draw the eye side-to-side, emphasizing the wide proportions of the SUV. At the center of the dashboard is a 13.2-inch infotainment screen, the largest available across the Lincoln lineup and the largest in its segment. Below that are the SUV's piano key shifters, a feature carried over from the Lincoln Navigator.

The screen is the home to the SYNC 4 operating system, making the Nautilus the first Lincoln vehicle to adopt the tech. Phone is Key comes to the SUV as well, a technology Hyundai has also marketed this year that allows drivers to use their phones to start and drive the vehicle for a designated period of time, without the physical key present.

SYNC 4 will operate with a Lincoln-exclusive Constellation appearance theme that is inspired by the night sky. The scheme features blue tones with pops of orange.

The system allows for wireless communications and over-the-air updates. SiriusXM with 360L and a digital owner's manual are offered as well.

2021 Lincoln Nautilus

2021 Lincoln Nautilus

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

Lincoln is giving buyers an additional Black Label themes to choose from for 2021 - Flight. It joins Chalet, Thoroughbred, and Gala in the Black Label theme lineup.

Buyers are able to get their 2021 Nautilus with the new Sandstone color family inside, featuring high color contrasts from light to dark. The Black Ebony interior returns for 2021, but with added Roast accents on the seats, doors, and console armrests.

Lincoln has refreshed the Nautilus's exterior color options as well. Asher Gray is a new choice and is available with the Monochromatic Package. Green Gem and Lincoln Flight Blue round out the new paint options.

Lincoln will continue to offer the Nautilus with a 335-horspower, twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 or a standard 250-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Lincoln Co-Pilot360 comes standard on the SUV and Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Plus is available. The Plus version adds a 360-degree camera with front sensing system, adaptive cruise control with lane centering, distance alert, enhanced part assist, and evasive steering. This technology is the rebranded version of Ford's Co-Pilot360 tech.

Nautilus will continue to be built in Oakville, Ontario, for North America and will arrive in dealerships in early 2021.

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Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.

Lincoln

TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

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Lincoln updated the flagship Navigator SUV for 2022.

Lincoln

Evie was smitten at first glance. If my ‘mini-me’ granddaughter who loves cars could have whistled through her teeth, I’m sure she would have. Eve Marion Judge, aka “Evie” was 7 when she first saw a Lincoln Navigator. It was clear that the exterior bling caught her ‘crow eyes’. The large and luscious grille. The bejeweled trim elements. The bulbous tires beset with wheels that twinkled. Paint that sparkled and invited a palm swipe. Evie was already a discriminating auto enthusiast who was in the habit of seeing a new car parked in my driveway each week. It wasn’t simply about things that glitter—for her, the rubber would meet the road when she climbed aboard her car seat and took stock of the second-seat passenger roominess and amenities. A monitor to access technology? Check! Window and illumination controls within easy reach-check. Her own climate and audio controls-double check!! And, now, the cherry on top: “how many of my friends can ride in here?”, she asked. “Seven riders total,” I said. “Fine, will you buy this for me when I get my driver’s license?! Now, this is my favorite car ever!

That was last year. I took Evie to the Chicago Auto Show recently. Now 8, she was already aware from some television commercials that the 2022 Lincoln Navigator had some upgrades and made a beeline to the updated Navigator on the show floor. She visited repeatedly during our time at the CAS and sampled the second-row massaging seats and learned how to use audio commands to obtain directions and other useful information. She was thrilled at the 10-inch rear screen that features live streaming provided by Fire TV. Her love interest held steady!

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe three-row Navigator shares quite a bit with the Ford Expedition underneath.Lincoln

I had the opportunity to drive the updated version of Lincoln’s crown jewel on a ride and drive program in Arizona recently and to speak with Lincoln engineers and designers. I was enamored with this full-sized luxury yacht that won the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury’s top award as the Car of the Year in 2018 and I share many of the same passion points as Evie. But, I too was looking forward to sampling what is new. Let’s take a closer look at the 2022 Navigator, plus a couple of new concepts that Lincoln has developed to stand apart in the ever-growing premium segment where the Navigator competes. Although Lincoln considers the Cadillac Escalade its only true rival, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Range Rover, BMW X7, and a couple of Mercedes vehicles sit in this class.

We started the day at the first Lincoln Boutique in the country, Sanderson Lincoln in Scottsdale. This new concept will give customers a unique experience by visiting an upscale, quiet space to have a latte and light snack as well as learn more about this luxury automaker that is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, plus have a new kind of dealership experience. The luxury automaker is also developing its new Lincoln Loyalty and Access Rewards programs that let buyers and lessees earn points redeemable for service, maintenance and purchases and also participate in “world class experiences”, such as the new pilot for a new Mobile Vehicle Spa Service!

While the 2022 Lincoln Navigator shares its mechanicals with the Ford Expedition, its sheet metal is unique from the front door forward and the flagship sport ute boasts a sumptuous cabin that is beset with exclusive, high-end materials and a lengthy list of standard comfort, convenience and technology features. New styling updates bring a refashioned grille and new exterior lighting elements. Interior enhancements include a new infotainment display with updated Sync 4 software, and two new Black Label design themes: Central Park sports a tasteful and clever laser-etched map of the park's pathways on the IP while Invitation adds an open-pore Kai wood trim with an overlayed geometric motif as well as black leather upholstery with brandy-colored stitching.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorLincoln fitted a new infotainment system for 2022. Lincoln

Also new is Active Glide, a hands-free, semi-autonomous driving mode, along with other updates that include improved massaging seats and an option for second-row massaging seats; new interior chimes and alerts recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; a larger 13.2-inch display; and an adaptive suspension that is programmed to react to a forward-facing camera to read bumps in the road and prepare the suspension to minimize impact and improve ride comfort.

The Navigator comes in a standard wheelbase or a “L” long wheel-based version and has seating for up to 7 or 8. It’s available with 2WD (rear-drive) or 4WD (AWD) and can tow up to 8,700 lbs. Trims include Navigator, Reserve, and Black Label. Pricing starts at $76,710 and tops out above $105,000.

I sampled different trims on a drive of close to 200 miles, with stretches of city traffic and twisting two-lanes that ascended to Payson, situated at an altitude above 5,000 ft. Slipping inside posh cockpits, my drive partner and I found supple leather, high-end wood trims, knurled metal knobs, 30-way power-adjustable front seats that make the Navigator easy to tailor for drivers and passengers of varying sizes. As a short-statured tester, I particularly appreciated the power-retracting running boards, adjustable pedals, and power-adjustable steering wheel and loved the heated/ventilated seats. I also liked the ease of access to the third-row seat and the overall comfort, roominess of the cabin, and the good stowage, with the third-row seat folded.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe Navigator offers great space across all three rows of seating.Lincoln

The Navigator is powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and has quick acceleration with 440 hp and 510 ft.-lbs. of torque. The 10-speed tranny works seamlessly on up and down-shifting duties and aids in the fuel economy of this nearly 6.000-lb. SUV. Despite its heft weight and wheelbase, it drives more lightly on its feet than I imagined and has well-weighted steering and good brakes. We tried out the hands-free driving and found it reliable on the bustling freeways in the Phoenix environs.

The Navigator is set up to be a mobile technology hub with a standard 13.2-inch touchscreen, standard Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with standard over-the-air software updates. There are USB ports in every row and it is a rolling 5G Wi-Fi hotspot. Standard is a 14-speaker Revel stereo system, with an optional 28-speaker Revel Ultima 3D system that also comes standard on uplevel trims and with the Luxury Package.

Standard safety features with Lincoln’s Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assist technologies bring blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection among other features. Of note are adaptive projector headlights and active park assist 2.0.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorActive Glide, a new semi-autonomous driving assistant, is available for 2022. Lincoln

**EPA fuel economy ratings: rear-wheel-drive 17 city/ 23 mpg highway/ 19 combined; 4WD 16 city/22 highway/18 combined.

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