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2022 Lincoln Nautilus Test Drive Review

The 2022 Lincoln Nautilus is an exercise in aging gracefully. Is this Ford Edge-based model the five-seat SUV for you?

7.8 /10
Overall Score

The 2022 Lincoln Nautilus is a five-passenger crossover SUV based on the same platform, and using the same powertrains, as the Ford Edge. However, the Nautilus gets the full Lincoln design treatment, from its upscale exterior to its mid-century modern interior. Though the Nautilus is getting old (it was last redesigned for the 2016 model year as the Lincoln MKX), a continuous program of improvement means it is aging gracefully.

Look and Feel

8/ 10

The 2022 Lincoln Nautilus is an attractive SUV. There’s nothing awkward or out of balance, but the styling isn’t plain. Lincoln adds enough detailing to ensure the Nautilus has plenty of character.

Approach the SUV after dark, and a Lincoln Embrace lighting sequence greets you. Our test vehicle featured light gray premium leather upholstery, while sandstone, dark brown, and black interior colours are also available. (U.S. specification shown; some features are not offered in Canada.)

The end result is decadent in many ways, but the centre console design and some of the chrome-plated plastic pieces look a little cheap.

You can buy a 2022 Lincoln Nautilus Reserve, the sole model offered in Canada, for a Manufacturer’s Retail Suggested Price (MSRP) of $59,800, not including the $2,395 destination charge to ship it from Ford’s Oakville, Ontario assembly plant to your local dealership.

Our test vehicle had the optional Ultra Comfort 22-way power-adjustable front seats with Active Motion massage ($1,900). They were perfect for a 14-hour round-trip drive.

Performance

8/ 10

A turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is standard making power specs of 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is all-wheel drive (AWD) in Canada, while front-wheel drive (FWD) drivetrain is not offered in our market.

A twin-turbocharged 2.7-litre V6 engine producing 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque is available for $4,000 more.

Comfort, Normal, and Sport driving modes are available, and in addition to calibrating powertrain behaviour and steering effort level, they adjusted our tester’s adaptive suspension, which in Canada is packaged with the V6. Lincoln delivered the Nautilus with Comfort mode activated, and it makes the SUV feel woozy enough to cause motion sickness. Sport mode makes the steering too heavy. Normal mode proved just right.

We left our point of origin on a dicey weather day. A mix of rain and snow fell as we made our way, gunking up the windshield and front end enough to render the Lincoln’s driving assistance features unusable. That didn’t last long, though, and once things cleared up our drive in drier conditions was comfortable and cozy thanks to the massaging and heated driver’s seat and the heated steering wheel.

The Nautilus has a 68-litre fuel tank and the twin-turbo V6 carries an official Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption rating of 11.2 litres per 100 kilometres in combined driving (12.6 city, 9.3 hwy). The maximum range based on the highway rating is 730 kilometres. Over 1,400 kilometres, the SUV averaged 9.4 L/100 km. On a short mixed-driving loop, it returned 11.8 L/100 km.

During the drive, the Nautilus proved to be the perfect road-tripper, quiet, comfortable, and filled with our favourite music thanks to the 19-speaker Revel audio system. Perhaps inspired by the so-called Constellation theme on its infotainment system, we even pulled off at an exit to recline the seats, open the panoramic sunroof, and gaze at the Milky Way well away from city lights.

Before returning the SUV to Lincoln, we took it for a drive in the mountains. Switching to Sport mode, the twin-turbocharged V6 and eight-speed automatic transmission go on high alert while the suspension firms up to quell about 95 percent of unwanted body motions. And while the 21-inch wheels wear all-season tires, they provide impressive grip.

Unfortunately, the steering is not engaging at all. It’s a shame because the Lincoln Nautilus is unexpectedly graceful and athletic on a mountain road. Plus, the twin-turbocharged V6 is terrific, and if you listen closely, you might hear faint downshift rev matches.

This might be surprising, but underneath its skin, the Nautilus shares its engineering with the Ford Edge, and the ST version of that SUV is a laugh-riot to drive. In our opinion, there is some of that spirit baked into the Lincoln Nautilus.

Form and Function

7/ 10

Upon entering the Nautilus, you’ll find smooth and supple leather, warm and inviting ambient lighting, and a quiet drive thanks to the standard Active Noise Control and acoustic windshield and front door glass. Both front seats are heated and ventilated, and the power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel is heated.

We recommend the optional 22-way power front seats. In addition to multiple massage programs, they include adjustable thigh extensions and head restraints, making it easy to find a perfectly comfortable driving position. They proved exceptionally comfortable even after hours on the road.

Lincoln heats the outboard rear seating positions and provides air conditioning vents for the rear passengers. The high-quality materials evident in the front continue in the back, but the Nautilus is unexpectedly cramped in terms of its accommodations. You sit rather high, which is great, and the seatbacks recline for napping. But legroom is tight for a midsize SUV.

Practical storage space is adequate. The larger locations behind the stereo and climate controls and under the centre console bridge are hard to see and access, so that leaves the covered bin forward of the cupholders which isn’t very big. In fact, that curved pod containing the stereo and climate controls looks tacked on, but when Lincoln redesigned the SUV’s interior last year, this was the solution.

A hands-free power liftgate reveals a nicely finished luggage compartment. The Nautilus supplies 1,055 litres of cargo space behind the rear seat and a maximum of 1,948 litres when you fold the back seat down.

Tech Level

8/ 10

In addition to a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation display, the 2022 Lincoln Nautilus features a 13.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system running the latest Sync 4 software.

Sync 4 offers over-the-air update access, allowing Lincoln to keep the system current over time. It includes Bluetooth, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Lincoln Connect connected services, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and SiriusXM 360L satellite radio with more stations than is typical. Our test vehicle also came with a connected navigation system, wireless smartphone charging, and a 19-speaker Revel premium audio system.

This system was helpful during our road trip and features an intuitive user interface and a wide range of menus and settings. We like that Lincoln offers separate, physical stereo and climate controls, even if the pod on which they reside looks a little cheap. The natural voice recognition system works well, too, and the Revel speakers produce excellent sound quality.

Another technology available on the Nautilus is Phone as a Key. Essentially, this turns your smartphone into a digital key that can unlock and start the Nautilus. Given the size of the SUV’s remote keyless entry fob, you might be inclined to actually use Phone as a Key.

Safety

8/ 10

Every 2022 Nautilus has the Lincoln Co-Pilot360 1.0 suite of driver-assist features. This package of safety features includes forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Additionally, the Black Label includes Lincoln Co-Pilot360 1.0 Plus. This package adds adaptive cruise control, lane-centring assistance, evasive steering assist, a surround-view camera system, and rear parking sensors.

We didn’t use (thankfully) the standard post-collision braking system that brings the Nautilus to a stop as soon as possible following a collision. We did experience many of the SUV’s other safety tech during our extensive time behind the wheel. And on this particular trip, in the areas where we used them, the driving assistance systems proved effective without causing irritation in the driver.

For example, the standard rain-sensing wipers were nice to have during the winter weather conditions. We made extensive use of the adaptive cruise control and lane-centring assist features, and on the return trip wished the Nautilus came with the new ActiveGlide technology we experienced in the refreshed 2022 Navigator earlier in the day.

In crash tests, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Nautilus a five-star overall rating. In fact, the only four-star rating it earns is for rollover resistance, and that’s a common score for SUVs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2022 Nautilus as a Top Safety Pick.

Cost-Effectiveness

8/ 10

There are two kinds of five-passenger luxury SUVs. There are the models based on a rear-wheel-drive platform that offer significant performance (Audi Q8, BMW X5, Genesis GV80, Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Range Rover Velar, Mercedes-Benz GLE). And there are the models based on a front-wheel-drive platform that offer significant value (Cadillac XT5, Lexus RX, Lincoln Nautilus).

In the FWD-based segment, the Lexus RX is the best-selling model. Proven to be reliable and luxurious over its nearly 25-year history, the RX seems to offer the right combination of style, quality, and dependability for people shopping in this segment. Plus, it is available as a fuel-efficient hybrid, which in early 2022 is suddenly a very big deal.

Still, of the trio of front-drivers, we like the Lincoln Nautilus. To our eye, it looks better than the Cadillac and Lexus, feels more luxurious, and offers the kind of acceleration and passing power that only a twin-turbo V6 can deliver. However, the most appealing features of the Nautilus are also the most expensive.

Nevertheless, as a new vehicle, the Lincoln represents a relative bargain compared to similarly equipped SUVs from BMW, Mercedes, and others.

Note: Images show a US model.

Updated by Christian Wardlaw

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