Car Buying

Are Lincolns Reliable?

Lincoln upholds a strong tradition of luxury and prestige as the sophisticated arm of the Ford legacy. Find out more about Lincoln's reliability ratings.

Read time

9 minutes

Date

01.25.2024

Share

Key takeaways

  • Lincolns balance luxury with capability, excelling in safety, cost of ownership, and dependability, but lag in fuel efficiency and repair costs.
  • The 2023 Lincoln Nautilus stands out in the luxury mid-size SUV category for its affordability, boasting a five-year cost of ownership of $61,770, surpassing competitors like Cadillac XT5 and Acura MDX in value.
  • Lincoln models, including the 2024 Aviator and Corsair, consistently earn high safety ratings from NHTSA and IIHS. Key safety features include advanced Driver-Assist Technology, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot information systems, reinforcing Lincoln's commitment to passenger safety.

Lincoln Motor Company opened in 1917, but another man also named Henry would save the founding father and son duo, Henry and Wilfred Leland. Henry Ford purchased the company in 1922 for a whopping $8 million, and the two brands have been inseparable ever since. 


Named for Abraham Lincoln and even featured in several presidential limousine collections, Lincoln carries the torch of prestige with it a century later. Like many other luxury brands, Lincoln suffers in reliability ratings that consider fuel efficiency and average repair costs, but in safety ratings, cost of ownership, and dependability, it exceeds expectations. 


What if there was a way you could test-drive a Lincoln without having to stake anything on the purchase? With a FINN car subscription, you can. Subscribe to a Lincoln for anywhere from six months to two years to determine if it’s the car for you. FINN even includes maintenance, registration, insurance, and depreciation in your monthly subscription fee. 

Are Lincolns good cars?

Among American automakers, Lincoln produces a reliable car if you’re looking for more sophistication from Ford's already established solid base. Many Lincolns include features not found on more affordable Ford models and technological advancements that enhance the ownership experience. What Lincoln lacks in reliability, it more than makes up for with capability. 

How car reliability is measured

Ford and Lincoln may share similar space in the automotive history books, but each brand treads its own path regarding reliability. In comparing the two manufacturers, Lincoln retains the edge in style, advanced features, and sumptuous creature comforts. If that same excellence translates to reliability ratings, it requires information from the following sources: 

  • J.D. Power dependability rewards 
  • FuelEconomy.gov’s fuel efficiency ratings
  • Safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Average repair costs reported by RepairPal
  • Kelley Blue Book’s (KBB) 5-Year Cost to Own


Past ownership experience can also inform the reliability ratings for brands like Lincoln. Vehicles remain an area where personal preferences heavily inform ratings. However, it’s essential to balance reported negative experiences with those highlighting ownership's perks. 

5 factors contributing to Lincoln’s reliability

Determining Lincoln’s reliability isn’t much different than determining whether BMWs, Hondas, Toyotas, or Volkswagens are reliable. Read on to learn more about Lincoln’s average repair costs and costs of ownership, dependability, and safety and fuel efficiency ratings. 

1. Cost of ownership

The 2023 Lincoln Nautilus won recognition from KBB for a low cost of ownership in the luxury mid-size SUV/crossover segment. Costing a total of $61,770 to own for five years, the Nautilus narrowly beat out the Cadillac XT5, Acura MDX, and Buick Enclave, each of which cost around $63,000 to own for the same amount of time. 

2. Dependability

J.D. Power awarded the 2022 Lincoln Nautilus the highest award in quality among competitors in the midsize premium/luxury SUV segment. Several other competitors included the INFINITI QX60, the Land Rover Defender, the Cadillac XT5, and the Lexus RG and RX. The 2022 Nautilus scored 88 out of 100 in quality and reliability. 

3. Safety features and ratings

As premium SUVs, the bulk of the Lincoln lineup tests well when it comes to safety:  

  • 2024 Lincoln AviatorFive-out-of-five-star overall safety rating and “Good” ratings in all categories 
  • 2024 Lincoln Corsair: Five-out-of-five-star overall safety rating and “Good” ratings in all categories except the Side: updated test (“Marginal” rating)
  • 2024 Lincoln Nautilus: Not yet rated by the NHTSA but a 2023 Top Safety Pick from IIHS (“Good” ratings in all categories)
  • 2024 Lincoln NavigatorThis model has yet to be rated by either the IIHS or the NHTSA


Many new Lincolns also incorporate Driver-Assist Technology to keep everyone on the road safe. Notable features include a rearview camera, Pre-Collision Assist, Blind Spot Information System, and Automatic Emergency Braking. 

4. Fuel efficiency

With a small lineup like Lincoln’s, characterizing the brand in terms of fuel efficiency doesn’t take much. Below are the fuel efficiency ratings for various Lincoln models as reported by FuelEconomy.gov:

  • 2023 Lincoln Aviator AWD: 17 city and 24 highway miles-per-gallon (MPG)
  • 2023 Lincoln Nautilus AWD: 20 city and 25 highway MPG
  • 2023 Lincoln Corsair AWD: 21 city and 28 highway MPG
  • 2024 Lincoln Navigator 4WD: 16 city and 22 highway MPG 


While Lincolns aren’t necessarily the most fuel-efficient, these SUVs surely bring style and sophistication to the scene. Each SUV also hosts a turbo—and plenty of horsepower—beneath the hood.  

5. Average repair costs

Ranking 24 out of 32 car brands according to RepairPal, Lincoln isn’t necessarily a show-stopper when it comes to average repair costs. However, that’s somewhat indicative of its luxury status. More advanced equipment comes with higher repair costs.

RepairPal estimates $879 in average annual repair costs for Lincoln, with 0.4 visits to the shop yearly. However, Lincoln has a 15% chance of a severe repair, which is significantly high compared to all cars and among luxury brands. Perhaps that’s why the brand earns a three-out-of-five-star rating. 

What are common Lincoln problems?

As a luxury brand, Lincoln suffers from a few glitches here and there. Check out the common problems listed below before you buy a Lincoln to make a more informed purchase. 

1. Air suspension leaks

According to RepairPal, leaks from Lincoln’s air suspension plague many owners. In particular, the Lincoln Aviator suffers from these suspension issues. Diagnosing the responsible component can be challenging, but replacing it can be even more stress-inducing based on the cost of parts. 

2. Coolant leaks

A leaking cooling system can spell disaster for all engine parts, especially at higher temperatures. The 2011 MKX suffered from a rash of coolant leaks that could destroy an engine if not addressed. If you purchase a used Lincoln, check the cooling system to ensure no leaks are present. 

3. Takata airbag recall

Unfortunately, Lincoln was one of the many brands contracted with Takata and was subsequently subject to the national recall issued by the NHTSA. These airbags featured several issues, the most prominent of which was a failure to deploy as intended. Ensure this recall has been performed on any used Lincoln you may consider purchasing. 

4. Engine issues 

Some Lincoln owners have reported engines that shut down entirely without warning. Lack of engine power often leaves them struggling to control their vehicle once power steering and brakes have effectively been disabled. Failure of the water pump impeller can also cause issues with Lincoln engines, mainly overheating. 

Are Lincolns expensive to maintain?

Lincolns can be expensive to maintain, as is the case with any luxury brand. The average of $879 yearly repair costs can strain anyone’s annual budget. However, purchasing a certified pre-owned Lincoln with extended warranty coverage can help reduce the cost of out-of-pocket maintenance expenses. 

Which are the most reliable Lincoln cars?

Lincoln makes some of the best commuter cars if you want to drive comfortably. The most reliable Lincoln models are listed below. 

Lincoln Navigator

The Lincoln Navigator, particularly the 2020 model, ranks high in reliability. Although it only earns a 2.5 out of five-star rating from RepairPal, the model ranks fifth out of 19 luxury full-size SUVs. This model visits the repair shop 0.4 times annually and costs just over $1,000 yearly to maintain. 

Lincoln MKX

The MKX ranks ninth out of 14 luxury midsize SUVs with a three out of five-star reliability rating. The 2016 and 2018 models are of particular note for reliability. In addition, the model costs $811 annually to repair, according to RepairPal

What are the least reliable Lincolns?

The least reliable Lincolns have since been axed from the lineup, but you may recognize some of the nameplates listed below. 

Lincoln Mark LT

Despite the flop of an earlier luxury pickup (the Lincoln Blackwood), the brand tried again with the Mark LT. This gussied-up F-150 only lasted until 2008. Both times, Lincoln trucks faced steep competition with the Cadillac lineup, particularly the Escalade EXT pickup, which was a relative success. 

Lincoln Aviator

The Lincoln Aviator initially didn’t have it so easy and continues to struggle with certain gremlins. Models from the early 2000s suffered from power equipment failure, steering and suspension issues, in-car electronic glitches, and peeling or bubbling paint. Early 2020 models aren’t upholding a high standard either, but hopefully, new vehicle models will address these issues as they roll out. 

So, are Lincolns reliable?

Lincolns can be reliable vehicles if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to keep them in shape mechanically, cosmetically, and everything in between. As a luxury brand, Lincoln suffers from high average repair costs and low fuel efficiency ratings. However, many customers are happy to trade extra miles to the gallon for creature comforts that make every drive feel special.

Are Lincolns reliable FAQs

With more advanced technology and classier features, Lincoln treads carefully between luxury and capability regarding reliability. Read on to learn more about how reliable Lincolns really are. 

The best Lincoln can be described as the vehicle that suits your lifestyle with the most efficiency, vehicle dependability, safety, and affordability. Finding the best Lincoln requires researching and figuring out which models best fit your needs. 

Finding Lincoln's most reliable model year can be challenging, even with a smaller lineup. The most reliable years change from one model to the next, depending on what you’re comfortable with overcoming as an owner. 

A look at RepairPal’s ratings of Lincoln and Cadillac can tell you a lot about how both brands compare. While Cadillac ranks 26th out of 32 best car brands, Lincoln jumps two more spots up the chain, albeit with a matching reliability rating. Cadillacs are nearly $100 cheaper to maintain, but they have a 17% chance of a severe repair. 

Final thoughts

Treating yourself to luxury cars like Lincoln vehicles can make even driving to run errands feel like a getaway. Lincoln scores high in reliability ratings compared to other luxury brands, even though it’s not the most fuel-efficient or affordable nameplate. Lincoln is the way to go if you like the Ford platform but want more from the Blue Oval. 


If you’re unsure that a Lincoln is right for you but want some time behind the wheel to figure it out, check out a FINN car subscription. Your subscription features a monthly subscription fee, including insurance, depreciation, maintenance, and registration. Flexible terms meld to your lifestyle, and you can have your new Lincoln delivered straight to your door. Subscribe to a new car from brands like Lincoln, Tesla, Volvo, GMC, Kia, and more to see the difference a FINN car subscription can make in your final decision. 

Are Lincolns Reliable
Are Lincolns Reliable

Final thoughts

Treating yourself to luxury cars like Lincoln vehicles can make even driving to run errands feel like a getaway. Lincoln scores high in reliability ratings compared to other luxury brands, even though it’s not the most fuel-efficient or affordable nameplate. Lincoln is the way to go if you like the Ford platform but want more from the Blue Oval. 


If you’re unsure that a Lincoln is right for you but want some time behind the wheel to figure it out, check out a FINN car subscription. Your subscription features a monthly subscription fee, including insurance, depreciation, maintenance, and registration. Flexible terms meld to your lifestyle, and you can have your new Lincoln delivered straight to your door. Subscribe to a new car from brands like Lincoln, Tesla, Volvo, GMC, Kia, and more to see the difference a FINN car subscription can make in your final decision. 

You may also like

10 Tips for Buying Your First Car

10 Tips for Buying Your First Car

Everyone approaches buying their first car differently. Here are 10 tips for buying your first car that you can use to make the experience a positive one.

Read more
Hybrid vs. Electric: Which Should You Choose?

Hybrid vs. Electric: Which Should You Choose?

Hybrid and electric cars are taking the world by storm. There is a huge demand for both vehicle types, but the question is, which should you choose? We’ll help you make an informed decision.

Read more
How Long Can You Get a Car Loan For? Things to Consider Before Applying

How Long Can You Get a Car Loan For? Things to Consider Before Applying

Depending on the bank, you can get a car loan for up to 96 months. However, there are some steps to consider before applying for a long-term loan. In this article, we break down how financing a car works.

Read more