2024 Lincoln Nautilus First Drive Review

Advanced technology, a luxurious cabin, and a fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain take this midsize SUV to a new level.

A silver 2024 Lincoln Nautilus ReservePerry Stern


Years ago, Lincoln sold cars, not trucks. Today, Ford's luxury brand specializes exclusively in SUVs, the latest of which is the redesigned 2024 Lincoln Nautilus.

A five-passenger midsize crossover, the 2024 Nautilus sits between the compact Corsair and three-row Aviator in the company's lineup. Prices range from the low $50,000s to the high $70,000s. Two powertrains are available, including a new fuel-efficient hybrid, and every Nautilus has a standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

Because Lincoln redesigned the 2024 Nautilus from the ground up, the vehicle showcases the automaker's latest high-tech features, including a BlueCruise hands-free driving system. But the new Lincoln Digital Experience technology really brings the wow factor.

In the Nautilus, the Lincoln Digital Experience includes the largest display the company has ever used in a vehicle. The massive panoramic screen spans the base of the windshield, supplemented by an additional center touchscreen display.

As beautiful as this new screen was, I was concerned it would be distracting while driving, but that worry proved unwarranted. The display works well to present relevant information at a glance, effectively making it a widescreen head-up display.

Lincoln has taken the updated Nautilus to a new level of luxury. Surrounded by premium materials, ensconced in comfy seats, and immersed in sound from the high-end audio system, I could have happily spent all day hanging out in the Nautilus. Unfortunately, the driving experience was not as pleasing, as the optional hybrid powertrain felt underpowered, and the handling was not as crisp as expected.

View of the new Lincoln Digital Experience dashboard in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus Black Label.Perry Stern

The New Nautilus Boasts a Fresh Design

For the 2024 model year, the Nautilus gets a fresh face, sporting Lincoln's new signature grille flanked by slim, stylish LED headlights. A light bar that connects the headlights and illuminates the Lincoln logo adds to the SUV's presence.

The rear styling is much cleaner than what's on the outgoing Nautilus, with smaller LED taillights that feature animated turn signals. A similar light bar spans the SUV's liftgate, with Lincoln spelled out in large letters.

Though the styling is fresh, the most significant updates are inside, where clean lines, a redesigned steering wheel, and elegant ambient lighting align with Lincoln's emphasis on "quiet luxury." But the star of the show is the 48-inch wide, high-resolution Lincoln Digital Experience display.

There are also changes under the hood as Lincoln puts a hybrid powertrain in the Nautilus for the first time and makes all-wheel drive standard on all trim levels.

View of the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus hybrid powertrain as seen under the SUV's hood.Perry Stern

The 2024 Nautilus Is More Fuel Efficient but Less Powerful

Since a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 250 horsepower carries over from the previous Nautilus, I spent most of my time driving hybrid versions of the SUV. In addition to the optional hybrid powertrain, my test vehicle had Reserve trim, the Reserve III option package, and 21-inch wheels. Those upgrades brought the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $68,350, including the $1,595 destination charge to ship it from the Hangzhou, China, assembly plant to your local dealership.

Nautilus hybrids use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor to deliver 310 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. While it is the most potent drivetrain available today, it represents a noticeable drop in horsepower and torque compared to the twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 Lincoln offered in the previous version of the SUV.

Acceleration could be quicker from a stop, and passing on a two-lane road requires some planning as it takes a few beats for the speed to build. Granted, Lincoln doesn't bill the Nautilus as a performance SUV nor are its customers expecting the power and responsiveness of a Ford Mustang. However, a luxury vehicle should consistently deliver satisfying performance, and the Nautilus doesn't quite meet that mark.

Rear view of a silver 2024 Lincoln Nautilus Reserve parked on the pavement near Palm Springs, California.Perry Stern

Fortunately, the hybrid powertrain redeems itself when it comes to fuel efficiency. According to the EPA, a 2024 Lincoln Nautilus hybrid gets 30/31/30 mpg in city/highway/combined driving. That is a healthy jump from the standard Nautilus, which returns 21/29/24 mpg.

During my drive in the hybrid, the trip computer indicated 27 mpg in combined driving. That is short of expectations but still a respectable figure.

While it might not provide the desired level of performance, the Nautilus delivers a comfortable, quiet ride thanks to a suspension that nicely absorbs most bumps in the road. Cruising at 70 mph on the freeway is where the Nautilus feels most at home, with almost no road or wind noise.

I wasn't as enamored of the Lincoln's behavior on the twisty roads that lead out of Palm Springs, California. That cushy suspension is a little soft when traveling on tight and twisty roads, resulting in some body lean. Similarly, the steering is not as responsive as I prefer. However, as I spent more time driving the Nautilus, I grew used to its overall feel and became more comfortable with its handling.

A driver is using Lincoln BlueCruise in the 2024 Nautilus SUV.Perry Stern

Technology Advancements Abound in the 2024 Nautilus

Every 2024 Lincoln Nautilus comes standard with Lincoln Co-Pilot360 Vision 2.2, a remarkably complete suite of advanced driver-assistance features. There are too many to list here, but besides the ones you expect to find on any modern luxury SUV, the collection includes evasive steering assist, intersection assist, a 360-degree surround-view camera, and automated parking assist.

In addition, for the first time, Lincoln includes its BlueCruise hands-free driving system on every Nautilus. It uses the standard adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assist to provide hands-free driving on approved limited-access highways.

While BlueCruise is a hands-free system, drivers must pay attention to the road, and a driver-facing camera ensures they do not become distracted. Trial subscriptions to BlueCruise give you a taste of the tech, but after they expire, you'll need to pay to use it.

I tested BlueCruise on Interstate 10 near Palm Springs, and it works well, keeping the Nautilus centered in the lane, maintaining speed, and keeping a set distance from the car ahead. When the SUV caught up to slower vehicles, I activated the left turn signal, and the Nautilus automatically moved to the left lane, resuming its set speed and passing the slower car.

View of the Lincoln Digital Experience panoramic display and separate infotainment screen in a 2024 Lincoln Nautilus Black Label.Perry Stern

My favorite feature of the Nautilus is the new 48.0-inch panoramic display screen nestled below the windshield. It puts driver information and navigation on the left side, while the right side features three large tiles you can customize to display information such as fuel economy, weather, media, and trip information. Surprisingly, it isn't distracting while you're driving.

Lincoln also installs a Google-based 11.1-inch infotainment touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. It controls most vehicle functions and includes Google Maps and Google Assistant, an excellent digital voice assistant. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are also standard, and when using them, the navigation display defaults to the smartphone platform. Multiple themes are available, changing the appearance of the displays and the cabin's ambient lighting.

While most interior features are easy to find and use, the ventilation controls may be too high tech. For example, to adjust airflow from the dashboard vents, you must make changes within the infotainment system.

However, you can select specific programs that oscillate the airflow or provide direct or indirect air to the cabin. Initially, the system was fun to play with, but moving the vent manually would have been much more straightforward when driving.

A new available Lincoln Digital Scent feature adds to the overall interior ambiance. You can choose from Mystic Forest, Ozonic Azure, and Violet Cashmere fragrance and select how strong they are. I found them pleasing in small doses, but the aroma can become overpowering if you leave it on too long.

The 24-way Perfect Position front seats in a 2024 Lincoln Nautilus Black Label.Perry Stern

Aside from the high-tech screens, the Nautilus features a comfortable cabin. The available 24-Way Perfect Position front seats offer, you guessed it, 24 available adjustments. In addition, the heating, ventilation, and massagers make this a seat you don't want to leave. The optional 28-speaker Revel Ultima 3D Audio System is a treat, too, providing incredible sound and another reason to stay put in the Nautilus.

The comfort continues into the rear seat, where there's plenty of legroom and headroom, both of which are more generous than in the previous Nautilus. In addition, the seats have excellent padding and good support.

Despite this luxury and technology, the Nautilus is still an SUV with proper utility. With up to 36.4 cubic-feet of space behind the rear seats and 71.3 cu-ft with the rear seats folded down, this Lincoln offers plenty of room for suitcases, groceries, or other cargo.

A silver 2024 Lincoln Nautilus ReservePerry Stern

Nautilus Faces Some Tough Competition

From the stylish exterior to the spacious, elegant, and tech-forward cabin, the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus impresses, especially as a road-tripping machine. Hopefully, Lincoln will add a more powerful drivetrain option in the future, making the Nautilus more satisfying to drive and more appealing in a competitive vehicle segment.

Still, thanks to its numerous improvements, including the Lincoln Digital Experience technology, the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus is worth considering when compared with other midsize five-passenger luxury SUVs such as the BMW X5, Cadillac XT5, Genesis GV80, Jaguar F-Pace, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and Range Rover Velar.

Lincoln provided the vehicle for this 2024 Nautilus review and paid for airfare, lodging, and meals during the evaluation period.

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Perry Stern
I have loved cars and trucks since childhood, and that fascination with anything that drives is just as strong today. As a teenager, I knew I wanted to become an automotive journalist, and during the past three decades, I have driven, written about, and photographed all manner of automobiles ranging from affordable econocars to exotic supercars. With the idea that there is a perfect car, truck, or SUV for everyone, my goal is to help consumers determine the right one for their wants and needs.