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LOS ANGELES, CA: The best news at the Los Angeles Auto Show was good news for Canada.
The newly-named 2019 Lincoln Nautilus – a refined and rebadged new version of the MKX midsize luxury SUV – will continue to roll off the assembly line at Ford’s Oakville Assembly Plant.
This is more than just another step in the gradual replacement of MK product names.
The Nautilus is all new from the windshield forward – new hood, new fascia, new headlight assemblies and, most notably, it comes fresh-faced with a new Lincoln star mesh grille.
It’s been just a couple of years since Lincoln got excited about replacing the MKX’s old waterfall grille with a two-piece split-wing version. But then the Lincoln Continental debuted to critical acclaim with a new one-piece mesh grille that caused enough of a stir for it to be adopted for all vehicles across the lineup.
“With the introduction of Nautilus, Lincoln has a strong, distinctive portfolio with a common and recognizable identity,” according to Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra.
The Nautilus still welcomes owners with the Lincoln Embrace, “warming up” with exterior and interior greeting lighting. The cabin carries over, unchanged for the most part, with transmission shift buttons, classic knobs and controls, a concealed wireless cellphone charging pad and a large centre screen displaying SYNC 3 info with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
And the large 12.3-inch gauge display faces the driver with variable digital cluster configurations available behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Cabin ambiance gets an uptick with the addition of acoustic side glass, reducing wind noise and setting the stage for the refined tones and notes of 13-speaker or 19-speaker Revel audio systems.
Lincoln has added to this soothing riding experience with available Ultra Comfort seats, designed with the input of orthopedic surgeons and offering 22 comfort-variable settings that include lumbar massage.
All these efforts are designed to combine for a “harmonious aesthetic” and reduction of stress and fatigue. But should the driver get a little too mellowed out, the new Nautilus also debuts with Lincoln-first technologies that include an all-new lane-centering feature to help maintain the vehicle’s position in its lane. Another new technology – evasive steer assist – uses radar sensors and cameras to analyze the gaps between slower-moving and stationary vehicles on the road ahead. In a further nod to future autonomous driving, the system will even help the driver steer around hazards if there’s a risk of collision.
These new techs complement a comprehensive suite of other driver assists that include Blind Spot Alert, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Active Park Assist, Lane-departure warning, Lane-keeping and an auto-hold feature, that relieves the driver from holding the brakes in stop-and-go traffic.
The Lincoln Nautilus shifts to an all turbocharged engine lineup for 2019, raiding the shelves of Ford’s EcoBoost offerings, harnessing a standard 2.0-litre four-cylinder (245 hp, 275 lb/ft) or an optional 2.7-litre V6 (335 hp, 380 lb/ft).
Both engines incorporate standard Auto Start-Stop technology and translate power through a new eight-speed automatic that replaces the previous six-speed tranny. All models in Canada come exclusively with all-wheel drive.
Lincoln owners can start, lock, unlock and locate their new Nautilus with the Lincoln Way app, also allowing smartphone-scheduled remote starts and the monitoring of fuel levels, tire pressures and battery status.
The Nautilus, under its previous MKX name, has led the Lincoln lineup in Canada as their best seller. But its numbers pale in comparison to its Oakville Assembly line sibling – Ford Edge.
So, a refreshed Nautilus and a potential future Edge follow-up should bode well for the future security of the 3,000 plus proud Canadians who build them.
Pricing of the 2019 Nautilus will be announced closer to its arrival at dealers next spring/summer.