L.A. Auto Show 2017: Lincoln doubles down on small SUVs

Lincoln is pushing deeper into SUV territory with newly minted versions of the MKX, now known as the Nautilus, and the new MKC, seen here. Lincoln will sell the 2019 models in mid-2018, starting from the mid-$30,000 range.
(Lincoln Motor Co.)

Lincoln is more known for big touring cars (Continental! Navigator!) than small SUVs, but the Ford Motor Co. luxury brand is going where the customers are by delivering a pair of upgraded entry-level crossovers for 2019.

What are they?

The newly reconfigured MKC and MKX, now known as the Nautilus, are affordable SUVs that retail from the mid- to high-$30,000 range, offering consumers a chance to mix a little Lincoln luxe with crossover capability. This is the MKC’s first substantial face-lift since its 2014 introduction. Since then, the national obsession with SUVs has skyrocketed, and the luxury SUV market has bloomed, suggesting a rosy retail future for both Lincoln’s new crossovers.

Why they matter

The SUV segment continues to be the hottest American car-buying niche, and it’s getting hyperactive in other territories where sales are growing. (I’m looking at you, China.) Lincoln says these entry-level cars are gateway vehicles to the brand. The MKC is a conquest vehicle that draws more than half of its buyers from other brands. Moreover, it’s pulling women: Lincoln says half of MKC buyers are female. The Nautilus puts new life into the vehicle that Lincoln calls its “best selling midsize luxury SUV.”

2019 Lincoln Nautilus
Lincoln's MKX is now the Nautilus, with a new name and a new grille. James Lipman / Lincoln

What's new?

The MKC gets a new face and new design elements that indicate a brand-wide design change for Lincoln. Inside, it’s tech time: The car also gets heated and ventilated seats and, for drivers using the Lincoln Way phone app, it can be turned on, turned off, locked, located and pre-warmed or pre-cooled remotely.

The Nautilus, in addition to its new name, gets new technology such as improved cruise control, lane-keeping assist, pre-collision assist, active parking assist and an auto-hold feature that allows the driver to ignore the brake pedal during stop and go traffic.

The competition

What nameplate doesn’t make a medium-priced, mid-size luxury SUV? Hardly anyone. So Lincoln is fighting for customers with Mercedes (GLA and GLC), BMW (X1 and X3), Audi (Q3 and Q5), Jaguar (E Pace and F Pace), Lexus (NX and RX), Volvo (XC40 and XC60), Acura (RDX and MDX) and Cadillac (XT5). How to choose?

The details

The new MKC will be offered with a 2-liter or 2.3-liter turbocharged engine, the larger one making 285 horsepower and 305 pound feet of torque. Both engines will be mated to an all-wheel-drive system.

The Nautilus also gets two engine options under the hood. The five-seater will now be available with the standard 2-liter four-cylinder engine and an optional turbocharged 2.7-liter engine that makes 335 horsepower and 380 pound feet of torque.

Both vehicles will be in Lincoln dealers by next summer.

The L.A. Auto Show runs Dec. 1-10 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Times coverage begins Nov. 25 at

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