Ford Hopes to Revive Lincoln Nautilus SUV With ‘Soothing’ Design

Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln luxury line hopes some interior redecorating will revive its slowest selling sport-utility vehicle: the mid-sized Nautilus.

Lincoln has built itscomeback onbrash behemoths like theNavigator SUV. But sales of theNautilus, with two rows of seats, have fallen 31.2% this year even as the brand’s total SUV deliveries rose.

So Ford overhauled the Nautilus interior with what it says is a more soothing design. It also loaded in new technology, including over-the-air software updates and an expansive 13.2-inch touchscreen, the largest in Lincoln’s lineup and among the biggest on the market. The idea is to create a serene environment that could lure empty-nest baby boomers and others who don’t need the three rows of seats in the similarly sized LincolnAviator.

The two-row luxury SUV market is dominated by international players includingToyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus RX,BMW AG’s X5 model,Volkswagen AG’s Audi Q5 andDaimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz GLE.

“Nautilus kind of got lost in the middle between” the Aviator and the compactCorsair SUV Lincoln launched in the last 18 months, Michael Sprague, the brand’s North American director, said in a media briefing Tuesday. “We expect in the spring when we start to focus on Nautilus, we’ll see a Nautilus sales pick-up.”

The new Nautilus arrives in North American showrooms early next year and will be built in Ford’s Oakville, Ontario, factory. Ford also will build it in China, making it just the third Lincoln to be produced in the Asian nation that is the world’s largest auto market. Ford has said it expectsChina to become Lincoln’s biggest market, surpassing the U.S.

Lincolnfinished last in a closely watched reliability survey from Consumer Reports released Nov. 19. Jake Fisher, the magazine’s senior director of automotive testing, said Lincoln took on too much by introducing too many new elements at the same time in Aviator and Corsair.

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