BY MARK KEAST

That recent Matthew McConaughey Lincoln Nautilus commercial, where he makes the impossible pool table spin shot into a corner pocket while at a dinner party, gives the new SUV a “cool” factor, to be sure.

But how does the vehicle measure up against the likes of the BMW X3, Mercedes Benz GLE, and Audi Q5, SUVs seen as being a notch above on the luxury scale? Pretty well, actually, considering Lincoln is also the brand behind luxury stalwarts like the Navigator and Continental.

We liked it because of its simplicity, starting with its appearance – the new elegant mesh grill, back through the sleek body lines to a handsome tail end, with that horizontal light bar. The vehicle we drove came equipped with 21-inch multi-vaned wheels – giving it an overall lean, muscular, taut presence.

We came away especially impressed with the day-to-day driving abilities, especially its handling in rougher conditions like snow and heavy rain. One day was highlighted by the worst winter snow dump of the season, and there were few people on the city roads, so we could really push the boundaries in its handling abilities. You might be surprised. And that peace-of-mind can’t be underestimated when living and driving in a downtown core as congested as Toronto.

A comprehensive list of driver-assist technologies only strengthens that confidence level while in the driver’s seat. Among the features there: Blind Spot Information System, with cross-traffic alert using sensors to detect traffic in a driver’s blind spot; Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, which uses camera technology to scan the roadway ahead and sounds a warning if a collision with another vehicle of pedestrian is imminent; and a Rear-View Camera which helps the driver maneuver the vehicle while in reverse – a big assist when trying to park in those tight condo building underground parking spot.

Plenty of pep on those open highway drives – 2.0 litre, turbo-charged I-4 engine, 8-speed SelectShift Automatic Transmission, an engine capable of 250 horsepower. Lincoln’s Drive Control allows the driver to control their driver mode selection – Normal, Comfort, or Sport – meaning you can tailor your drive to the road conditions you are on. The body motions of the SUV on our varied drives were always tight.

Courtesy Ford

Courtesy Ford

The Adaptive Cruise Control allows you to set your desired speed, while automatically keeping the Nautilus an adjustable, pre-set distance from the car in front. The Lane-Centring System technology makes sure you remain centred in your lane. That’s if you want your car to do more of the driving for you.

No luxury vehicle experience is set without a whisper-quiet cabin and sound system with high-level acoustics – the Revel Ultima Audio System, with 19 strategically placed speakers throughout the cabin, presenting a live-music-level sound experience. The reclining rear seats have more than generous leg room, with plenty of cargo room in the back to run those weekend errands.

Courtesy Ford

Whether it’s driving through the snow or on a long-distance trip to cottage control, sleek and cool, the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus more than on matches up the dance floor with the other luxury big SUV boys.

JUST THE FACTS (TEST VEHICLE)

  • NAUTILUS AWD
  • 2.0 L I4 ECOBOOST ENGINE
  • 8-SPEED SELECT SHIFT AUTO TRANSMISSION
  • CARGO UTILITY PACKAGE: $350
  • NAUTILUS TECHNOLOGY PACKAGE (360-DEGREE CAMERA, ACTIVE PARK ASSIST, FRONT PARK AID SENSORS): $1,100
  • DRIVER ASSISTANCE PACKAGE (LANE KEEP ASSIST, ACC W/TRAFFIC JAM ASSIST, ADAPTIVE STEERING): $2,500
  • ULTIMATE PACKAGE (LED MATRIX SPD DEPENDANT HEADLAMPS): $5,500
  • 21-INCH ULTRA BRIGHT WHEELS
  • REVEL II AUDIO
  • INTERIOR PROTECTION PACKAGE: $450
  • 22-WAY POWER DRIVER SEAT: $1600
  • CLASS II TRAILER TOW PKG: $500
  • TOTAL FOR TEST VEHICLE: $70,150