The glamour of Lincoln may have peaked in the 1960s, but the all-American brand is spearheading a revival. After spending two years transforming its line-up of cars and SUVs, the Detroit automaker is ready to revamp its bestseller: the MKX midsize crossover. Reincarnated as the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus, the SUV gets new powertrains, upscale packaging, and safety features. But to distinguish itself as a luxury brand, Lincoln needed to throw out last century’s playbook.
“There is a story behind everything we choose,” Marcia Salzberg, Senior Color and Materials Designer, tells us at the car’s global launch in Santa Barbara, California. “Everything needs to have deep meaning.” The car’s milled leather upholstery, for example, isn’t “just put on a belt and stamped on a grain.”
Enter Lincoln Black Label, a high-end treatment to help customers personalize luxury models. Salzberg says, “Black Label is like our runway collection. The whole interior becomes this quiet sanctuary.” The Nautilus will be offered with a trio of Black Label designs, including a brand new, Met Gala-inspired theme with carmine and onyx leather upholstery and aluminum accents.
For our test drive around Santa Barbara and Ojai, we drove a Nautilus customized with Lincoln’s Black Label chalet-themed treatment. The cabin, clad in espresso- and alpine-colored leather and silver wood, aims to evoke the feeling of a cozy après ski session. “We carry the theme all the way through,” Salzberg says. “It’s more about the experience and being outside. It’s your fashion, your energy. Crisp. Pristine.” The third Black Label design takes inspiration from the equestrian lifestyle with venetian leather, Chilean maple wood, and Alcantara microfiber accents.
Nautilus also looks different under the hood, boasting a new turbocharged line-up. Our test vehicle ran on a 335-horsepower, 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost. A 245-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine is standard.
It’s a personal expression, it’s how you arrive.
Lincoln’s concept of luxury extends beyond the car itself and its Black Label customers receive a slew of benefits aimed at making car ownership more convenient. Potential customers can bring the car home to trial for up to 48 hours and buy it online instead of at the showroom. Lincoln will also retrieve and return the car when it needs to be serviced.
Using the Lincoln Way smartphone app, owners can lock and unlock their car, set the temperature, monitor fuel levels and check tire pressure remotely. The app can perform higher-level functions like finding parking, paying for gas at Exxon Mobil stations, and even having Amazon’s Alexa place Starbucks orders in advance.
Lincoln has also partnered with Clear to allow customers to skip long TSA lines if they register beforehand and Black Label owners receive the service free of charge for a year. As part of its Lincoln Personal Driver pilot program the automaker will hire a driver to chauffeur customers living in Miami, Dallas, or San Diego in their own cars.
“It’s a personal expression,” Salzberg tells us. “It’s how you arrive.”
Images courtesy of Lincoln