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Meet the SUV That’s Made for Scenic Family Road Trips: the Lincoln Nautilus

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)

My husband and I have been going back and forth about whether or not it’s time to get an SUV, especially now that we have a toddler in tow. So when Lincoln reached out with an opportunity to test-drive a 2019 Black Label Lincoln Nautilus, an SUV, I was intrigued. I also had a road trip planned.

Our destination? Massachusetts and Maine. And with a vehicle dropoff and pickup in Brooklyn and am eight-ish hour drive, I knew that I’d have the chance to test not only the parking assist but also the cabin size and how the car handles on the open road. (Route 495, I’m talking to you.)

Here’s what we thought about the experience.

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The price: The version we tested—the fully loaded Black Label, which is a midsize luxury SUV—starts at $57,000. The base model costs a lot less (prices start at $40,000), but you’ll be sacrificing some of the more desirable vehicle features (like the heated steering wheel and panoramic vista roof—more on that later).

The interior: Let me put it this way: While I sat in the back seat sorting through snacks for my cranky toddler, it seemed like I should have to shout to my husband—who was at the wheel—he felt so far away. But the active noise control, designed to reduce ambient outdoor sounds, meant that we could still whisper (clutch when you’re next to a napping toddler) and be heard. I also liked the burgundy interior, which felt luxe and cooled down fast, even in 90-degree heat. But our fave feature was the panoramic vista roof that ended up being the equivalent of an iPad for my 18-month-old. When the car journey got long, all we’d have to do was redirect his attention to the trees above him and it would net us a bit more fuss-free time. (He even added “ees” “ees” to his vocab during the trip.)

The drive: It was smooth. But we also felt a bit jarred by the lane keeping system, which uses a camera mounted behind the windshield’s rear-view mirror to monitor the road and control the steering if you start to drift. (Don’t get me wrong, it was incredibly helpful; just odd to experience a “driverless car” quality when you’re not used to that sort of thing.)

The safety technology: It felt good knowing that the Lincoln Nautilus is equipped with front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and also knee airbags to protect your body’s lower half in the event of a collision. But we especially loved the pre-collision assist, which started beeping if we veered too close to another car on the highway or another vehicle cut us off. (It was a nuisance at times, but overall, a welcome alert.) Also helpful: the LED multi-projector headlamps and fog lamps. In Maine, we were pretty remote (as in the land of no cell service) and street lights aren’t exactly plentiful on those windy roads. Night driving felt a lot less dangerous thanks to the reach of the car’s high beams.

The other bells and whistles: The parallel parking assist was a trip—and had us wedged in a tight space on our block in less than a minute’s time—but so was the adaptive cruise control, which allowed me to actually rest in a traffic jam while the car used sensors to monitor the vehicle in front of us and adjust our speed and distance based on the car ahead of us. I also was impressed by the sound system. There are 19 speakers in total in the car, which meant that when we played white noise for our toddler, we all felt immersed—and Zen—as he drifted off. One feature I didn’t love: The hands-free liftgate for the trunk. The idea is that you kick your foot under the trunk and it will automatically open. I felt a bit foolish doing this and also only got it to work half the time.

Final verdict: I loved the spaciousness of the interior—not to mention the ample trunk space. The Black Label definitely offers an experience, but one that comes with a luxury price point. Still, that panoramic vista roof was worth it. Aside from pleasing my toddler, it was the coolest experience getting caught in a thunderstorm and staying dry while watching the ominous skies above. Would I be able to reliably cram a vehicle this size into a space in Brooklyn? That’s another story.

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