Family life on LA's Westside


A family drive with elegance, in the Lincoln Nautilus

Test driving the awesomely equipped Black Label Nautilus

Summer in LA and a chance to cruise around for a week in a 2019 Black Label Lincoln Nautilus. Sweet is an understatement. This classy, cushy ride made me feel like a queen on the streets of Los Angeles. My normally underwhelmed 12-year-old son and his friends even said it was “fire,” and apparently that’s a good thing. The reason this ride is so lux is that it’s everything you want in an SUV, with the comfort and maneuverability of a luxury sedan. It also has solid heft and just about every safety feature known to the auto industry, so I felt not only like the coolest mom in LA but as secure as in my own tank.

The aforementioned military vehicle comparison should not be construed as meaning this car rides heavy. Despite its size and roominess, this mid-size five-seater SUV, which is a step up in size from Lincoln’s compact MKC and one down the three-row Aviator, has nimble steering and is easy, precise and pleasurable to drive. A notorious bad navigator in small spaces, even I managed to effortlessly slide into a tight garage parking spot in a friend’s tiny garage. With active park assist offering graphic guidance from all angles on a 360-degree camera, it was actually fun to park it.

The Nautilus’ tech practically does the driving for you – of course not literally, but that’s probably coming soon. My favored features on this SUV are blind spot detection, forward collision warning, lane keeping, auto-emergency braking, pre-collision assist, and the all-important feature for LA driving – pedestrian detection.

Since not everyone likes the same kind of ride and handling, you get to choose from all-wheel-drive select, with the modes of comfort, normal and sport. I enjoyed all three, depending on the terrain, driving conditions and my mood. In all three modes, the 2.7 GTDI V6 engine revved up powerfully, matching the grandness of the size of this SUV with might.

Besides the tech, it also has great exterior styling that impresses without being overly showy. As a designer friend of mine said, many newer cars are so over-designed they are hard to look at. Perhaps that’s an over-dramatic statement, but I understand his drift. This SUV styling stops before going overboard with the details, looking elegant with its gorgeous front-end lines and shiny grill, chrome-tipped dual exhaust system, welcome and farewell lighting elements, and gala trim.

The bespoke interior is also worth bragging about. The ambient lighting inside the cab offers a feeling of VIP chauffeuring, along with a Pretty Woman panoramic vista roof, a cargo area cover – which is a necessary feature in LA if you ever need to leave and conceal items in your car – and not to mention the Venetian leather trim seats.

If you wonder what else the Black Label edition gets you, besides the lovely embroidered Black Label insignia, the package includes a 50,000-mile premium maintenance plan, anytime car washes, annual detailing, and culinary and travel collection memberships.

The standard model starts at $41,335, which would suit most people nicely; but if you really love extra trim, the Black Label outfitting is worth the investment at $57,890.