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2024 Lincoln Nautilus

First Drive: Tech-forward luxury.

The new 48-inch screen in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus is arguably the most notable thing about this next-gen midsize SUV. It's the first thing you see when you sit behind the wheel, and you can't not see it from any position in the vehicle. Therefore, it's easy to see why people are concerned about how distracting it would be.

Spoiler alert: It's not distracting. So, let's dig into that as well as look at some of the other cool tech features you'll see on the new Nautilus.

Screen overload?

I don't know how Lincoln did it, but they managed to find the exact right position for this gargantuan screen that stretches the length of the windshield. It's just below your line of site, and the speedo and map in front of you almost operate as a head-up display. When driving, it didn't get in my way or distract me. At all.

The screen on the passenger side all contains static information, like weather, fuel economy, music and trip information. So, even though it's colorful, it's not distracting. The graphics are large, and if you want to see the exterior temperature, all you have to do is give a quick glance at the widget and put your eyes back on the road.

While you have seven widgets you can swap out on the passenger side, the information in front of the driver can't be changed. You'll get a speedometer, safety information and a map. If you use your cameras, it pops into the space where the map is located.

That frees up the 11-inch screen for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and things like climate or audio controls.

Play games in park

If you are someone who spends a lot of time sitting in your car waiting on kids or spouses, you'll appreciate some of the options you have while in park. First there's a Vivaldi browser, so you can do things like internet searches or watch videos. Of course, this means you'll need the internet subscription.

But you can also download video games and connect a gaming controller. Sure you could play games on your phone, but the 11 inch screen provides a nicer, larger backdrop to get your game on.

Get rejuvenated in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus

One of the more interesting features isn't available just yet - but it's coming as an over-the-air update by the end of the year - and that's the rejuvenate feature. Say you've had a tough day at work, you get home, and you're not quite ready to go inside to deal with whatever tough thing is waiting for you inside. You can opt to sit in your car for a few minutes and rejuvenate.

Kind of like a guided meditation, this feature uses soothing music, visual imagery, reclining seats, massage and scent to help you relax and shake off the day. But since, presumably, your day isn't over, you're going to have to wake back up. So, midway through the program, the music switches to something more upbeat, your seat goes upright, and the visual imagery changes.

If you act as a caregiver for a loved one, you'll totally understand why this feature is amazing.

Driving & screen impressions

Overall, I really like the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. To be fair, I only drove the top tier trims, but build quality is well done, and the overall sense of calm and quiet that encapsulates you when you shut the doors is impressive. The seats are comfortable, and the available 24-way perfect position adjustments are great for both tall and small drivers.

Both powertrains - the 250-horsepower 4-cylinder turbo and the 300-horsepower hybrid - provide smooth and seamless acceleration. Plus, with a lot of attention paid to noise deadening materials, very little of the engine noise creeps into the cabin. And that's what you'd expect from a luxury vehicle of this caliber.

Now on to the 48-inch elephant in the room. I've gotten a lot of questions about the panoramic screen visibility and distraction. Let's start with the visibility issue. The screen is situated in a way that it falls below the hood line, so I can look over the wheel, see the screen and still see over the hood of the vehicle. That's coming from someone on the petite side of the spectrum.

In terms of distraction, while the screen is colorful and filled with bold graphics, the images are static, so they don't grab your attention while you're driving. The entire screen operates like more of a head-up display. The speedo is just at the bottom of your sightline, so it's easy to know how fast you're driving at all times, and if you want to look at one of the widgets on the right side of the screen, the information is large, bright and easy-to-see with just a glance.

However, if you truly hate the screen or it's too bright at night, there is the ability to turn it off, you just have to go into the widget screen, and slide the "calm" button on.

A few misses

While the general experience of the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus is overwhelmingly positive, there are a few things that could have been done better. Though the 48-inch screen isn't terribly reflective, the 11-inch screen on the center console is. It's hard to see while driving, and on a bright day, it's shiny. There is some color adjustment that can be done to make it better, but it's still not great.

Additionally, with all the things you need to adjust through that 11-inch screen (like the HVAC system), I found that if my hands were cold, it took me a couple of jabs at the screen for the command to take. If you aren't going to give me buttons, the screen needs to work better.

Finally, there's this weird toggle switch that's not a toggle switch but should be a toggle switch. On the center console area, there's a silver button that activates your drive modes. But rather than allowing you to press, press, press through the modes using the button, you have to switch to the touch screen (which you may or may not be able to see) to select your drive mode. In other Lincolns, that button has been a toggle, and the information pops up in the behind the wheel cluster. This is surely the something the owner would get used to, but it's an unintuitive operation.

One other odd thing I noticed: Even though heated rear seats are available, there are no rear-seat climate controls.

Price points

For a luxury vehicle, the $50k starting price of the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus is reasonable. But assuming you want all the goodies, that price increases quickly. At a base level, you'll get that 48-inch screen, heated-and-ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, the hands-free Blue Cruise system (90-day free trial, then a subscription) and the gasoline engine. The hybrid adds $1,500. If you level up a trim, adding about $4k you'll get more premium materials, bigger wheels and chrome jewel accents on the grille - among other things. Then the big daddy Black Label with all the things will add (gulp) $24k over the base.

Something to note: Color is optional. Black or silver paint will be included in the price, but if you want a bright red, blue or a deep red, you'll add $750 to the bottom line.

The price breakdown is as follows (including $1,595 destination and $645 acquisition fees):

* Premiere: $52,655
* Reserve: $56,990
* Black Label: $76,490

For my money, I'd probably opt for the Reserve trim, add the Reserve III package with the 24-way adjustable seats and premium Revel audio, and call it a day at $67,745. Would I add the hybrid? Nope. For me, it's not enough fuel savings or power. The 4-cylinder gas engine is excellent without the hybrid boost.

The bottom line

I think Lincoln Motor Co. is an underrated brand. It has all the luxury you could possible want, a lot of quiet and calm features and plenty of power. If you want more spirited driving, go with BMW, but if you're looking for smooth comfort, Lincoln wins.

At the end of the day, even if you go all in at $76k, you'd be hard pressed to find another luxury vehicle that gives you all the features the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus does.