2024 Lincoln Nautilus Up Close: How About a Mobile IMAX?

lincoln nautilus 2024 22 exterior front angle scaled jpg 2024 Lincoln Nautilus | Cars.com photo by Steven Pham

The Lincoln brand has struggled over the years, often being the recipient of lavish spending and attention then suddenly finding itself an apparent afterthought in parent company Ford’s product planning. The introduction of the 2024 Nautilus, the brand’s mid-size premium SUV offering, points to the investment money flowing again.

The redesigned model is not only bigger, more stylish and better equipped than the outgoing model, but it also features some truly stunning, new display technology that’s never really been seen before in this segment. It has resulted in the Nautilus going from being a thoroughly competent but relatively unremarkable entry in an extremely crowded field to being a standout player that’s likely to really attract some new buyers. This is exactly Lincoln’s goal with the 2024 Nautilus, and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t achieve that aim. Let’s talk about why that could be.

Related: 2024 Lincoln Nautilus Preview: A Stunning Display of Stunning Display

Improved Looks

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The first and most notable aspect of the new Nautilus is indeed its exterior styling, which has gone from attractive-but-largely-generic to a much more distinctive and cohesive design. There’s a much greater emphasis on horizontal lines with the 2024 model, as evidenced by the full-width LED light bar up front and the full-width “bird wing” taillight strip out back.

That visual cue, combined with an actual 2-inch increase to the vehicle’s width versus the 2023 model, makes for a more planted, less top-heavy design that looks more like a tall station wagon than a proper trucky SUV. That’s not a bad thing, as the new design looks sportier, more sophisticated and features more flowing lines that result in a cleaner aesthetic. Simply put, the new Nautilus looks good from the outside.

Coast-to-Coast Screen

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The exterior styling is really just the window dressing to get your butt in the seat, which is where the true show starts. The refreshed Nautilus has the automotive equivalent of an IMAX theater: a 48-inch (sort of) continuous coast-to-coast display screen mounted below the windshield at the far end of an expanse of flat dashboard that looks perfect for resting a McChicken sandwich on as you drive.

Regardless of the numbers, there’s nothing like it in this segment; the closest thing you’ll find is present in the Mercedes-EQ electric vehicles that have the Hyperscreen feature, but we have found that to be overwhelmingly intimidating and complicated to operate. There are no such issues with the Lincoln display, as everything is controlled from a simple 11.1-inch touchscreen that’s within easy reach. Reconfiguring the displays, turning them off and changing themes are a breeze. It’s not as flashy or bright as the Mercedes display, but it doesn’t have the same kind of massive level of video vomit that the Hyperscreen does, so it feels much more easily managed.

There are only two bugaboos with this new setup that will require some real-world testing in order to verify whether or not they’re true issues. First, we need to see how this display looks outside in bright, direct sunlight. While easy to see inside the darkened presentation space in which I viewed it, I wonder how light streaming in through the windshield might wash it all out, or if it’s bright enough to survive that kind of interference.

Second, we’ll need to see how the public responds to the steering wheel and relative gauge positions. The steering wheel isn’t a circle but more of a rounded-off rectangle that you look over to see the speedometer and other gauges. This is exactly the approach Subaru and Toyota have taken with some of their new models and with mixed results — depending on how you sit and position yourself, you’re either fine with this arrangement (meant to basically do away with the head-up display) or you hate it because you can’t put the steering wheel as high as you’d like to, lest you obscure the gauge cluster entirely. Lincoln says it’s tested it with all kinds of body shapes and people, and I’m sure it has, but that doesn’t mean that it’s tested it in the various bizarre ways that I know people like to sit in the driver’s seat.

Overall, the Nautilus has gone from being a snoozer to a looker for the 2024 model year, something that it desperately needed to do to try and attract some new life and customers to the Lincoln brand. If Lincoln can hold the line on pricing and not get too ambitious, conquest sales are a real possibility with this redesigned SUV. The updated Nautilus arrives in showrooms in early 2024, but for those who’d like to go ahead and reserve one, it’s available to order now.

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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

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