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Lincoln toads, not?


Joel Ashley:
I thought some here might be considering new vehicles that were towable, and would be interested in my experience with Ford.  Since growing up on a farm with a '52 8N tractor and Dad's '53 Ford station wagon, and my first car being a '53 Ford Customline, I've been a Ford fan.  I've had other brands, used and new, foreign and domestic, but now have a '97 F150 and a '97 Explorer.

The air suspension Explorer has logged thousands of miles behind the Beaver, and may continue in that regard.  But a new car for everyday stuff would sure be nice at our age.  Dad used to say, when he bought his new Olds Toronado not long before he passed, "a man oughta own at least one luxury car before he dies".  I dunno about that necessarily, but for the offered features and such we've been considering a Lincoln Nautilus.  I'm not jumping for joy that its latest rendition is built in China, but a recent review of the new Hybrid version on PBS' Motorweek returned a very good analysis and about 30mpg, which surprised me.

The '23 Nautilus was listed in FMCA's magazine annual article as towable last year, and the new hybrid one as towable in last February's issue.  But when asking my local dealer about aftermarket running boards, because these rigs don't have them as an option, she said her documents say the car is not towable 4-down.  Hmmm... Okay, so I wrote to FMCA and they said they've had issues the last couple of years getting replies out of Ford about their towables... no replies in fact. 

My questioning FMCA brought a reply that included links to the 2024 Lincoln Towing Guide and the Nautilus owners' manual.  Both of those documents include sections on 4-down towing behind a motorhome, etc.   It also included references to Roadmaster, who's looking for a '24 Nautilus to design a plate for (I was kinda hoping to be that customer 😁), and Blue Ox who already has made a baseplate for the 2024 Nautilus.  You'd think major towbar mfrs. would know if a vehicle was towable before going to the trouble of making a compatible baseplate.  Providing all that info to the dealer illicited only a it is strange that two resources say the opposite but do whatever you feel comfortable with response. 

In other words if it might not be okayed by Ford, then the dealer wants no responsibility, but neither is the dealer interested in investigating.  She's just going by resources dealers are provided with and have to stick to.  You'd expect the dealer to have better connections at the manufacturer than FMCA editors have.  So either Ford comes through with clearer guidelines, or we may need to consider other options like General Motors.  but good luck getting to the right people, if any, at Ford;  been there, dun that years ago, and they kept saying that the dealer had to answer such questions.  No biggy - I had a 1 ton, low geared GMC to pull my sport cruiser between Clackamas and the San Juan Islands, and it was a good rig, albeit 9-10mpg. 

I digress a bit.  I just thought I'd bring my issues to the attention of anyone else in the Club that might be thinking of a new "luxury" car that's also towable and gets good mileage.  Be careful if Lincoln is on your list, although I delved only into the Nautilus Hybrid.


Addendum:  upon closer perusal of the owners manual, I’m thinking that the disconnect with the dealership is that the gasoline Nautilus version, unlike last year’s, is not towable, but the newly redesigned hybrid version is.  The dealer may be reading only documents related to a fully gas ‘24 and not realizing there’s separate documentation for towing the hybrid.  The dealer may be getting a tad miffed at my repetitive emails pressing the issue, but it’s the sort of thing Ford is known to believe dealers, not Ford employees, should answer.  So it’s my opinion the dealer should sort out the truth if they want a sale.

Paul Meehan:
Joel, I had a 2020 Lincoln Nautilus (gas) that was flat-four towable.  Two problems I had was one, the process of taking the vehicle out of park.  Not sure what method is used in the new hybrid but my Lincoln had a cable that per the owners manual you sit in he driver's seat and reach under the dash and pull the orange or yellow lanyard towards you and down to the right until the metal bead is caught in the "plastic" pocket.

First problem was there was no way to reach the lanyard.  I had to get on all fours outside the vehicle to reach it.  Secondly, and most important is the "plastic" pocket will wear out after repeated use.  This would permit the cable to slip and place the vehicle back into Park.

After eighteen months of ownership I had the pocket and an integrated two foot long part replaced.  They wanted to charge me $600 to $800.  Fortunately it was under warranty.

I have heard of one instance where the cable slipped just enough through the pocket that the front wheels locked up while under tow.

So this is a cautionary note.  The question in my opinion is not just is the newer Lincoln's towable but also how is the vehicle taken out of park and remains out of Park.  Plastic parts will wear down.

Regards and thanks for the post.


Keith Moffett:
In purchasing a Lincoln to tow we bought a Navigator which became flat towable in 2018.  The trim package also must be right because without the ‘tow package’ it isn’t towable.   The Lincoln goes into flat tow mode at the flick of a switch on the dash. 

Joel Ashley:
Paul, our ‘97 Explorer Limited had a dealer-installed “Neutral Tow” switch (cost $100) that to put in tow mode required only tapping the brake in neutral and holding until a little lamp came on.  I just had to remember to release the parking brake after fastening the Roadmaster auxiliary brake in place.  I could also ease my mind at rest stops, etc., glancing through the driver’s window to make sure the little lamp was still on.

I’m surprised a 2020 model would have a mechanical tow device rather than electronic;  it sounds more like that aftermarket driveshaft disconnect device that many used.  As Keith notes, I think today’s towables use a simple “neutral tow” switch on the dash that may be factory installed.  If I could see a new hybrid Nautilus in person on a lot I could check for its presence, but also the owners manual online should cover its use.



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