Up to the Mountains and Down to the Sea
Homefront test drives the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus along the winding roads of the Santa Ynez river valley in Santa Barbara County, California.
By Helmut Dostal
After putting Lincoln’s Navigator to the test last year, I was looking forward to getting behind the wheel of its smaller sibling, the Nautilus.
The folks at Lincoln selected the scenic San Rafael Mountain region east of Santa Barbara as the location for our test drive. Beautifully winding roads along the Santa Ynez river valley offered great vistas and the nicest of scenery for us to snap some shots of the handsome Nautilus from all angles—and the odd selfie, of course.
With the SUV market as crowded as it is, the Nautilus team certainly has its work cut out for itself in making an impression. Upon reflection, however, it seems to me that they’ve got the market figured out quite successfully with the choices they’re providing.
Lincoln offers the Nautilus in two engine configurations: A turbo-charged four-cylinder and a V6 with twin turbos. There are four trim levels on tap, with the Black Label taking
the high road and the base Nautilus at the entry level.
As with its big brother, the Navigator, I give the Nautilus full marks for its pleasing interior. The dash is well designed and clear of any superfluous chrome bits, and the push-button gear selection is neatly integrated in a tasteful chrome trim. There are 22 ways to adjust the seats, and you can even select a lumbar massage. And the generously sized glass roof ensures a light and airy feel inside.
In 2019, the Nautilus is introducing Lincoln Co-Pilot 360, a new driver-assist feature that will be available with all new models. It combines a number of technologies, such as radar and cameras, to provide the driver with security features including blind-spot detection, cross-traffic alert and pre-collision assist, with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
A high level of connectivity is guaranteed with a standard embedded 4G modem with Wi-Fi hotspot, a wireless charging pad and a well-proportioned touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
All models share the ultra-smooth eight-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with paddle activation and turbo-charged engines. My tester was a Reserve model with all-wheel drive, which I thoroughly enjoyed on those winding roads—all the way from our starting point at the El Encanto in Santa Barbara to our lunch stop at
the charming Porch Gallery in Ojai and down to the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach for a sumptuous dinner.
And the day’s grand finale…
Dinner had to be fairly earned at an all-out sailing regatta off the Santa Barbara Marina and out into the bay. Competitive spirits were flying high and, as the wind finally picked up, our boat was under full sail and hard into the wind. Our team won the race (almost)—coming in second was as much fun as winning. Certainly, it was a great nautical experience to complement a fabulous day on tour.
2019 Lincoln Nautilus, Reserve
Engine: V6, twin turbo-charged
Power: 335 hp
Transmission: eight-speed SelectShift automatic
Price as tested: $69,500
Well-connected Apple Car Play, hot spot
Large, user-friendly touchscreen