How the Lincoln Nautilus surprisingly won me over with its ride, huge screen

A panoramic screen in a Lincoln Nautilus
Enlarge / In the past, car companies engaged in “horsepower wars.” Now it seems they’re competing in a screen size war.

Jonathan Gitlin

It’s important to try to approach a review car with an open mind, but I’ll admit my preconceptions were stacked against the Lincoln Nautilus. It’s on the larger end of the midsize SUV segment, bigger than I like them, and my last encounter with a Lincoln wasn’t entirely positive. And then there’s the whole giant screen. Not to be outdone by Cadillac and its 33-inch display, Nautilus has a 48-inch screen that stretches between the A pillars, which sounds like a recipe for distraction. And yet, this hybrid SUV won me over rapidly.

We tested the hybrid Nautilus, a $1,500 option for a model that starts at $50,415. The hybrid system combines a 2.0 L turbocharged four-cylinder direct-injection engine with an electric motor in parallel, sending torque to all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission. Total output is 310 hp (231 kW), with a maximum output of 300 hp (223 kW) from the internal combustion engine, or 134 hp (100 kW) from the electric motor.

It’s quite efficient, too. The EPA rates the hybrid Nautilus at a combined 30 mpg (7.84 L/100 km), although a combination of 22-inch wheels and oppressive Washington, DC, summer temperatures meant that I averaged a little bit less than that.

Lincoln hasn’t disclosed a torque figure for the electric motor, but it’s easily sufficient for the task of getting the 4,517-lb (2,049 kg) SUV up and moving, both smoothly and near-silently, before the gas engine thinks about firing up. At city speeds, the electric motor does almost all of the work, at least as long as the weather isn’t too extreme—in the depths of winter and the height of summer, you can expect the engine to fire up more often unless you turn off the heater or AC.

It’s a car that seems to encourage you to relax a bit and not be in quite so much of a hurry behind the wheel. That impression was helped by the seats, which offer plenty of adjustment and one of the best massaging functions you’ll currently find on four wheels. There’s even an optional digital scent diffuser.

Ride comfort was more than acceptable, despite the huge wheels, and the oblong-ish steering wheel never requires very much effort thanks to plenty of assist from the power steering. If the point of a luxury car is to pamper its occupants while they are transported from A to B, then the Nautilus should be considered quite luxurious.

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