2024 Lincoln Nautilus First Drive: This Luxury SUV Will Change How You See the Road, and Your Time On It

An expansive screen, a flat top steering wheel and digital fragrance may seem like a lot to take in. But in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus it's more intuitive than intrusive.

Taking A Moment With The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus
Taking a moment with the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. Photo: Scotty Reiss

So Many Ways to Breathe Deep, Relax and Enjoy the Ride

The first time you get into the Lincoln Nautilus, give yourself a moment. There’s a lot to take in.

You’ll no doubt be wowed by the “coast to coast” screen that spans from one side of the dash to the other. And you’ll want to immediately tap the center touchscreen to see what delights it holds.

You might focus on the leather seats, which in many of the trim packages have a massage option (tap the center of the dial on the side of the seat to turn them on quickly). And the textured metal and crystal controls on the center console will catch your eye; it’s sort of like peering into a jewelry box.

And there’s a fragrance diffuser in the center arm rest that allows you to choose one of three fragrances and swap them out when you like. I can’t say enough how much I love this feature.

Yes, it’s a lot, but it’s not overwhelming or distracting, which is sort of surprising, since the entire design is new and in many ways, groundbreaking.

That’s because in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus, a 5-passenger luxury SUV, which has a starting price of about $50K and and top price of about $75K, combines luxurious surroundings with cutting-edge technology in a way that is less intrusive and more intuitive. Which is, in itself, a luxury.

Related: Meet Lincoln President Dianne Craig As She Leads Lincoln Into Its Next Era

The View From The Driver'S Seat Is Really Clear And Open Due To The Flat Top Steering Wheel And Low Screen

The view from the driver’s seat is really clear and open due to the flat top steering wheel and low screen. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A New Vision From the Driver’s Seat

Like everyone else, you might first focus on the multimedia screen. Yes, it’s large, sweeping across the entire dashboard and displaying everything you need and want to see. But it’s really just part of the puzzle that creates a new way of viewing the road, and this is something you’re going to see in other new cars soon. The Lucid Gravity takes a similar approach and we’re seeing versions of these ideas in the Volvo EX90 and newer Lexus models: An enhanced view of the road ahead and technology that supports, rather than distracts, the driver.

There are three components to this new way of viewing the road: The wide screen, a steering wheel that is flat on top and bottom, and a center screen that serves up most of the function in the car.

Until you sit behind a wheel like this you don’t realize just how much of it you look at — instead of the road.

The wide main screen is positioned low on the dashboard so it doesn’t extend above the windshield. Even shorter drivers won’t see it impeding their view. Then, the steering wheel’s flat top and bottom serve to mostly keep it out of view.

The 11” center touchscreen is positioned to be at your fingertips. It’s low and while it does demand that you shift your view from the road to the screen, you should not need to do that very often.

Related: How does the 2023 Lincoln Nautilus Compare?

Digital Scent Control Screen

Digital Scent control screen. Photo: Scotty Reiss

More Function at Your Fingertips — Or, at Your Command

While the center screen is where you’ll find all the car’s functions, including climate, drive modes and more, two functions will give you quicker, less distracting access to things: Hey Google voice activated assistance and touch-sensitive steering wheel controls.

First, Lincoln has updated the multimedia system with Google’s operating system which has voice activated assistance. Once you’ve turned on voice assistance in the vehicle settings, you can say “hey Google” and the assistant asks how she can help. Personally, I really love this feature. Once you learn to use it you’ll only tap the touch screen when you need more than quick access.

Then, Lincoln has added touch-sensitive controls to the steering wheel. Just swipe your finger across the pad on the left side of the wheel for driver assist features such as adaptive cruise control. The pad on the right side controls media  — volume, station and more.

You can also connect your phone to the system with a cord or wirelessly to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The great news is that if you use Apple Maps, you’ll be able to see your Apple Maps navigation on the main screen.

If you use Google Maps, you’ll already have that function on the main screen — just ask Hey Google for directions. One caveat, which is a bit of a speed bump for me, is that I use mostly Google Maps and tend to look up my destination on my phone before I get into the car; once I connect CarPlay, my destination is already pre-set in my maps. To do this in the Nautilus, you’ll need to log into your Google account on the system; your map searches won’t automatically port to the system from your phone.

Related: See How the 2023 Lexus RX 350h Compares

How To Move The Airvents In The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus

How to move the air vents in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Few Caveats About the Multimedia Screen

Glare on the 11” center screen, which sits at an angle, can be significant. At first, trying to change the drive mode from normal to sport (Lincoln calls this “Excite” mode) I found it impossible to see anything on the screen. Later, though, I turned up the brightness on the screen and it was much easier to see.

Setting up your preferences before heading out on the road is always a good idea; in the Nautilus, even more so. This includes setting the air vent direction, which can only be done through the touch screen. It’s pretty cool — drag your finger across the vent image to shift up, down or side to side, or tap the preset mode for on body, off body or even just close the vents altogether.

Related: 7 Wonderful 7 Passenger Luxury SUVS

The Panoramic Sunroof In The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus

The panoramic sunroof in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Let’s Talk About These Seats

Lincoln has really innovated its seats in the last decade. They are more like a modern lounge chair than than a car seat, and look more like a designer handbag with layers of color and texture designed to cradle your tush and relax your back. Our Black Label test model, the fully-optioned top-of-the-line edition, had the ultimate seats, including a very nice, very relaxing massage function.

Rear seat passengers won’t be spoiled with massage, but they’ll enjoy the layers of leather and design just as much as front seat passengers. In some trims, rear seats are heated, too. Rear seat passengers will be delighted by their own climate controls, a fold-down armrest with cupholders and a storage cubby, and 4 USB-C ports tucked into the seat backs.

The Roomy Rear Seat In The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus

The roomy rear seat in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Will Kids Car Seats Fit?

Well, of course, but it’s better than that: You can fit two rear facing car seats. Lincoln says the rear seats have up to 41” of legroom, though with my seat positioned for my driving comfort (I’m 5’8″), I measured about 33” of legroom. That’s more than ample for a rear facing car seat and that means that you can position one behind the driver’s seat even if the driver is tall.

Another nice feature is that the rear seats are on rail and can be positioned forward or back. It’s rare that 5-passenger SUVs have movable rear seats, which we love because it gives us more flexibility in how we position kids car seats.

Last, the center seat is about 17” wide, meaning that three kids car seats can be installed. There are two full sets of LATCHes and an upper tether for the center seat, typical of a 5 passenger SUV.

The Fragrance Diffuser Under The Center Armrest

The fragrance diffuser under the center armrest. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Every Sports Mom Needs This: Rejuvenate Mode, Digital Scent and Cabin Refresh!

Bringing many of the Nautilus’s features together — massage, music, the digital screens, fragrance, air and seat temperature —  in a single function is the idea behind Rejuvenate Mode (this will be available via over the air update later in 2024). Tap ‘Rejuvenate’ on the app screen, tap start and you’re on your journey. The mode reclines your seat, lifts the steering wheel, activates the fragrance diffuser, music and massaging seats and adjusts the cabin and seat temperatures. Expansive screen images and ambient lighting complete the experience.

You can customize the settings, set your own music or use the default soundtrack and decide if you want a 5 or 10 minute experience.

I can see this feature as a daily meditation in the after-school pickup lane where of course, you arrive early so your kiddos will make it to dance class on time. This is a wonderful way to spend that 10 minutes waiting for them.

And when they get into the car and bring with them the *fragrance* of the school playground, tap the cabin refresh option on the climate control screen. The system will expel all the air in the cabin and replace it with fresh filtered air from outside. Then, fill the cabin with your favorite digital scent. There are 7 choices, they cost just $30 each and are designed to last for 30 days of use — just tap the app on the screen. Refills will be available at dealerships or on line through Lincoln.

The Front Of The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus

The front of the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Power Options, Trim Levels, Packages and Pricing

This may be the best news of all: Lincoln Nautilus offers two engine options, three levels of pricing and packages so you can get the features you want.

The standard gas-powered engine is a 4-cylinder turbo that generates 250 HP and gets about 24 MPG. The hybrid option, a $1,500 addition, generates 310 HP and gets about 30 MPG. From there, buyers can pick a model and extra features:

  • The Premiere edition starts at $50,415 and includes leatherette seating, CoPilot 360 driver assist and safety systems, digital phone as key, the 48” Coast to Coast display and 11” center screen, wireless phone charging, heated and vented seats, multiple modes, digital phone as key, all wheel drive, surround view camera, Blue Cruise hands free driving trial period, 1,750 lbs. tow capacity and “Nautilus” style wheels;
  • The Reserve Edition, which starts at $54,750, adds leather seating and the option of the Reserve II package
  • Premiere or Reserve editions can add the Reserve I package with a sunroof, hands free lift gate, 4 years of Blue Cruise (which is available by subscription afterward) and a Revel sound system for $5,775
  • Reserve models can select the Reserve II package, which adds heated second row seats and digital scent $5,775
  • Reserve III adds 24 way massaging seats and a 28 speaker Revel 3D sound system for $10,005
  • Black Label, at $74,250, has every feature and adds leather Chalet or Redwood interior
  • All models can add the Jet Appearance package, with dark exterior accents, for $3,000
The Coast To Coast Screen In The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus

The coast to coast screen in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Driving the Lincoln Nautilus

On the road the Nautilus was simply lovely. I drove all day with the seat massagers on — they didn’t shut off after a while, like most do, which I appreciated— and enjoyed the wide open view of the road. The steering wheel was easy to adapt to, the screens were easy to see with information clearly and simply displayed.

And the hybrid version we drove — which I highly recommend simply for the added power — was great. Not overly powered but ample, enough for confident merging onto the highway, powering up a hill and around a curve on our test drive.

We took it out on the highway to test out Blue Cruise, also a great system. The system has been advanced so it also has lane change assist; just tap the turn signal and when it’s safe, the car will change lanes for you. The entire effect is to make tense driving less tense and to let you relax a bit behind the wheel, It works only on certain mapped highways such as interstates. If it’s not available adaptive cruise with lane keep assist will be available. You can tell which system is active via the driver display which lights up in blue.

Blue Cruise, like everything else that is novel and new in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus, may seem like a lot to learn. But, it’s worth it. Once you take it in and figure it out, you’ll find it all to be more intuitive than intrusive. And completely luxurious.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Lincoln for this test drive. Travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.

Taking A Moment With The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus

Taking a moment with the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss