2019 Lincoln Nautilus, Image: Ford Motor Company

Perusing sales data for the month of November, something popped out from the always entertaining Ford Motor Company file. While the company as a whole saw its volume fall 6.9 percent, year over year, last month, Lincoln finished November on a high note — something it hasn’t seen much of this year, Navigator sales notwithstanding.

Compared to the Ford brand’s 7.3 percent YoY drop, the Lincoln brand saw a 3 percent increase. Still down since the start of the year (a trait it shares with the Blue Oval brand), Lincoln’s November sales increase wasn’t just fueled by the hulking Navigator. A new nameplate appeared last month, tacked onto a pre-existing vehicle. Were buyers holding out for a new grille?

That nameplate would be Nautilus, the steampunk-sounding moniker applied to what was once the MKX for the 2019 model year.

Combined Nautilus and MKX sales last month rose 20.4 percent, year over year. That’s no statistical fluke, either — sales in November 2017 were in line with the other months of that strong-selling year, which proved the MKX’s best since 2007. With 3,155 vehicles moved last month, November was the model’s best month since December 2016 (which was a barn-burner of a sales month for almost all brands).

For 2019, the renamed model adopts a Continental-inspired corporate grille, a new base engine, plus a helping of new content and revamped Black Label themes. Gone is the split whale waterfall grille that dates back, in revised form, to the first-generation model’s 2011 refresh. The theme carried over to the second-gen model in 2016.

2019 Lincoln Nautilus, Image: Ford Motor Company

Of course, one month does not a trend make. Who knows what some Lincoln dealers did to move those 2018 MKX models off the lot (the brand’s consumer site shows an extra $500 in customer cash for buyers and lessees starting in early November — pretty small potatoes). Regardless, the showing is notable given the MKX’s rocky year, with company execs no doubt hoping the new face will continue turning new heads and opening new wallets.

Year-to-date sales are still down 10.1 percent, while the brand itself is down 8.4 percent.

Elsewhere in the lineup, the compact MKC, which arrived this summer with a similarly refreshed look, posted an 11.1 percent year-over-year sales increase, though it’s not a marked departure from previous months. Through the end of November, MKC sales are down 4.4 percent. Lincoln’s sedans didn’t reverse their downward sales trajectory — a fact that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

As for the range-topping margin king (the Navigator), Lincoln’s largest ute saw sales stats catch up to it. The redesigned model went on sale in November 2017, so increases of the triple-digit percentage variety are now a thing of the past. Still, the model’s continuing to gain ground, with last month’s sales up 27.3 percent.

Sprucing up the MKX into the Nautilus was something of an afterthought compared to the late-2018 introduction of the Navigator and the looming release of the all-important Aviator, Lincoln’s biggest-ticket items and the keys to its future success. Still, if the Nautilus sales bump continues, it goes to show that paying even a little bit of attention to a denizen of the crossover realm can pay off.

[Images: Lincoln Motor Company]



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