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First Drive: 2024 Lincoln Nautilus Hybrid: Common Scents

by | March 14, 2024

Once one of America’s most exclusive automotive brands, Lincoln has been little more than an also-ran in recent years. But Ford Motor Co.’s upscale marque is on a mission to rebuild itself — and not just by becoming a clone of luxury market leaders like Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW or crosstown rival Cadillac. And the complete makeover of the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus gives a good sense of what’s in store, as Headlight.News discovered during a day behind the wheel of the midsize crossover in Palm Springs.

2024 Lincoln Nautilus - side clouds v2

The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus brings a complete makeover for the midsize luxury crossover.

First introduced in China late last year, a complete makeover of the Lincoln Nautilus is getting ready to roll into U.S. showrooms in the coming weeks — and while Ford’s luxury brand has fallen off the radar for many high-line buyers, they’d be making a mistake not to check out this midsize crossover.

The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus delivers some significant new features, including an upgraded powertrain line-up, standard all-wheel drive and the latest version of the BlueCruise hands-free driving system. It’s all contained in a handsome exterior package that stands out in a sea of near-lookalike SUVs. But one of the most distinctive features is the new digital display that stretches from pillar-to-pillar atop the crossover’s instrument panel.

Lincoln has also introduced a new way to make you feel like Nautilus is your own “sanctuary,” to the point owners just might want to spend a little time relaxing in the new crossover, even after they reach their destination.

2024 Lincoln Nautilus - front 3-4 details

While it doesn’t stray far from the outgoing model, the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus gets some nice touches, such as the crossbar lighting.

The basics

The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus gets an all-but total ground-up makeover, with a heavily updated version of Ford’s C2 platform — which is shared with models as diverse as the Escape SUV, Maverick pickup and Bronco Sport.

The second-generation Lincoln crossover doesn’t stray far from the outgoing model in terms of either size or design – though it does get enough of an exterior makeover to stand out more than before. There’s a subtle bit of sculpting to the door panels that give it a bit more sensuous feel. And a new grille — bisected by crossbar lighting — is more distinctive and modern.

Each trim package features subtle exterior tweaks — and, depending upon the package, the 2024 Nautilus is available with up to 22-inch wheels. The 21s and 22s use foam fillers to help reduce road noise.

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2024 Lincoln Nautilus - cabin

A 48-inch digital display tops the instrument panel.

A “reimagined” cabin

It’s the completely redesigned cabin that stands out, however. There are some welcome new features, such as the new steering wheel that’s flattened on both top and bottom, as well as Lincoln’s now-signature piano-key shifter buttons. Wrap-around, driver-adjustable ambient lighting enhances the feel, especially at night. And an all-new center console offers plenty of useful storage space.

Front occupants get 10-way heated seats, though high-trim packages upgrade to a 24-way power adjustable heated and ventilated driver’s seat.

Lincoln Digital Scent Packs

Lincoln expands its scent collection to seven digital in-cabin scents for the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus SUV.

But what will immediately catch the eye is the crossover’s new display technology. This panoramic 48-by-5-inch display is set back atop the instrument panel and is divided into a series of zones. The usual gauges sit directly in front of the driver. To the right side are three additional zones that can display any of an assortment of widgets. I chose one readout detailing what was on the audio system, another displaying the latest weather, and a third showing the fuel economy of my test vehicle’s hybrid drivetrain.

There’s another, 11.1-inch display atop the center stack. This touchscreen allows you to adjust those widgets, the ambient lighting and pretty much every other feature and function of the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus — though there’s a large and elegantly detailed volume knob and six manual controls atop the center console.

Tech, tech and more tech

That volume knob can be linked to an optional 28-speaker Revel Ultima 3D audio system.

2024 Lincoln Nautilus - rear 3-4 following dinosaurs v2

Nautilus adds a variety of new tech features, including a 5G WiFi hotspot.

Like a number of other automakers, the Nautilus now uses a Google operating system that is not only quicker but adds improve navigation with real-time map upgrades. The voice control system, triggered by the command, “Hey Google,” is far more intuitive. The system also allows you to use Amazon’s Alexa – say, to open a garage door or turn on the lights at home when coming home from work.

Wireless versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and the new infotainment system features SiriusXM, Spotify and more audio sources. The panoramic display will allow you to watch videos or use the Vivaldi web browser — with the Chrome browser set to come later through an over-the-air update. Those features only operate when the vehicle is parked. Notably, Lincoln is one of the first automakers to upgrade from 4G LTE to 5G wireless technology. It helps make for faster mapping and for those using the onboard WiFi hotspot.


2024 Lincoln Nautilus - side clouds

The Nautilus now adds Ford’s hands-free BlueCruise system.

One of the most significant tech features added for 2024 is the Ford BlueCruise system. It allows a motorist to go completely hands-free on more than 100,000 miles of U.S. and Canadian roads — though the driver needs to be ready to immediately retake control if there’s an emergency or when the Nautilus drives out of a “geofenced” area.

The latest version of BlueCruise adds some nice new features. You can, for example, tap the turn signal and, where safe, the system will automatically execute a pass. Also new: Lane Repositioning automatically slides you over in the lane when passing large vehicles, such as an 18-wheeler.

Ford’s BlueCruise is an impressive technology — though it’s not quite as sophisticated as General Motors’ Super Cruise, nor does it cover nearly as broad a network of roadways. GM recently announced it’s soon to expand to about 700,000 miles of highways and local roads.

New powertrain options

2024 Lincoln Nautilus

The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus offers two powertrain options, including a 300-hp turbo-hybrid.

For 2024, the Lincoln Nautilus offers two powertrain choices:

  • A 2.0-liter inline-4 making 250 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired to an eight-speed automatic and delivers an EPA-rated 21 mpg city, 29 highway and 24 combined;
  • A 2.0-liter turbo-hybrid making best-in-segment power: 300 hp and 310 lb-ft. Mileage jumps to 30 city, 31 highway and 30 combined.

All models come with all-wheel drive.

And motorists can opt for any of five different powertrain modes.

Taking the stress out of driving

The Nautilus badge first appeared in 2019, replacing the largely forgettable Lincoln MKX. It offered a more distinctive design, while helping the luxury brand’s broader strategic shift. Rather than trying going one-for-one with the more successful European and Japanese luxury brands, Lincoln put an emphasis on “quiet luxury,” with the sort of products and features designed to take stress out of driving.

2024 Lincoln Nautilus - white front 3-4 clouds and graffiti

All powertrain packages, including the base I-6, come with AWD.

The 2024 Lincoln Nautilus takes things to a new level with what the automaker describes as the “Lincoln Embrace.” That’s designed to cover every aspect of ownership, starting with what is promised to be a less confrontational buying process. And when service or repairs are required, the automaker will even schedule a swap, bringing a loaner to home or office, even sending a mobile service van to deal with a problem on the road.

But what captured my imagination was the new “Lincoln Rejuvenate.” Think of it as a zen sanctuary. You reach your destination. You choose from any of seven scents, such as Cloud Balsam or Twilight Embers, and select either a 5- or 10-minute session. That reclines and then activates the massaging seats, turns on soothing music and displays a serene video on the 48-inch screen.

There is one catch: the Rejuvenate software isn’t quite ready. It should be in time for the arrival of the 2025 Nautilus models. The good news is that Lincoln will use its smartphone-style OTA technology to update the ’24 crossovers at no additional charge.

Driving impressions

It’s great to have a Rejuvenate session to look forward to at the end of your drive. But I was more interested in finding out what the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus was like on the road. I wasn’t disappointed.

The crossover lives up to Lincoln’s hype. With the additional help of noise canceling technology, the cabin proved to be near tombstone quiet — until I fired up the Revel sound system which delivered audiophile quality music, depending upon the source.

I stuck to the Nautilus Hybrid which, to my mind, is the option of choice. The gas-electric driveline is smooth and reasonably quick, with the electric motor side of the package delivering near-instant torque for quick launches and smooth passes.

Steering is fairly predictable and, in the “Excite” setting — Lincoln’s take on “Sport” — it avoids the overly boosted feel that can take the fun out of driving on twisty roads.

Nautilus is by no means the sportiest midsize luxury crossover, but it has come a long way from the numb, boring MKX Lincoln used to offer.

Wrapping up

Prices for the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus start at $50,415 for a base package and run to $74,465 fully loaded.

Some potential buyers will look at the 48-inch display as a gimmick — and Lincoln clearly has yet to fully find the best uses for it. But it’s one of a number of distinctive features that set Nautilus apart in a crowded market segment.

For those looking for a midsize luxury crossover that offers plenty of new technology, and which can help ease your stress during and after your journey, the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus should be on your shopping list.


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