2000 Lincoln LS
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
If you think Lincoln's idea of American luxury is big, floaty cars for older folks, you're in for a surprise. Yes, the smaller-sized LS is a comfortable car, as any Lincoln should be. It has some sporty traits too, and it's hard to beat some of the performance-and-value packages Lincoln offers in this sedan. Let's hope quality is up to snuff, too.
Ambitious buyers wanted
You're moving into the right neighborhood. You're somewhat athletic. Maybe you're even looking to buy a timeshare. And, for the first time in your life, you're considering a luxury car.
You're a perfect candidate for Lincoln's newest sedan, the LS, according to Jim O'Sullivan, Lincoln group brand manager. A luxury car is a piece of that jigsaw puzzle in these buyers' lives, O'Sullivan said.
This car is smooth riding on the highway, but sporty feeling on the switchbacks. It feels refined amid city congestion but welcoming, even a bit exhilarating, on jaunts into the country.
Smooth, yet some sportiness
You get good response from the LS power-assist rack-and-pinion steering, and the car really does have a sporty feel compared with what you'd expect from a Lincoln.
In sweeping turns, the test LS with sport package keeps body sway to a minimum and what sway I did feel was predictable and not unsettling. On tight turns, the LS surprised me with its tenacious yet forgiving handling. In slalom maneuvers, the car didn't bobble, and the rear of the car, where engineers worked to reduce unsprung weight—weight of the wheels, brakes, tires and other mechanicals between the road surface and the suspension—was impressively well mannered.
Shares platform with a Jag
Suspension got special attention
The LS rear suspension, which includes toe-control links, is patented and has a unique geometry to reduce lift and dive.
"We have a light chassis that's rigid," said Jonathan Crocker, suspension and steering design supervisor. "It helps keep the suspension geometry consistent. On cars where you don't have rigidity, the suspension doesn't have a chance to retain alignment."
But Lincoln also worked to balance the weight distribution of the LS to as close to 50/50 as possible for best handling. In fact, the battery is in the trunk, which Lincoln officials estimate meant a two percent weight shift from front to back, and the hood also is weight-saving aluminum.
V6, with a 5-speed, if you want
The 3.0-liter double overhead cam V6 is a version of Ford's Duratec engine and is pleasingly powerful without being overtly muscular. Maximum horsepower is 210 at 6500 revolutions per minute and torque is 205 lb-ft at 4750 rpm. These compare with 194 horses at 5800 rpm and 195 lb-ft of torque at 4600 rpm in the Mercedes-Benz C280 sedan.
And, take note: The LS V6 is offered with choice of automatic or 5-speed Getrag manual transmission. It's the first Lincoln, in fact, to have a manual transmission since the 1951 Cosmopolitan and contrasts with competitors such as the Lexus ES 300 that don't offer manual transmissions. Even if you get an LS V6 automatic, though, you can choose to shift manually, without a clutch, via the LS SelectShift mode in the gearshift console.
V8 choice, too
Pleasing style, mostly
Honestly, the front is more appealing to me than the rear. The back just doesn't seem to have a richness or distinctiveness about it.
Still, this rear-wheel-drive car is comfortable, with seats you sort of sink into. It's not the same sinking feeling as in the seats of Town Cars of old, but it's certainly not like the firm riding seats of Audis and BMWs.
Inside, wood all around is fake, but nicely done. It's even on the steering wheel, a la Jaguar. Leather is rich looking but not overly tufted or fussy—another departure for younger buyer's tastes. The radio controls seem particularly Lexus-like, with large, tactile-pleasing quality.
Is this the way to build luxury?
Outside, the rocker panel by the driver's door was coming apart from the car body, and on the front passenger side, the window seal was sticking out in unfinished fashion. Moreover, the sunroof rattled in cold weather.
Room for passengers—and cargo
Front legroom is a bit below that of the ES, but rear legroom is better than in either the LS or the C280. The Lincoln's 114.5-inch wheelbase is longer, officials noted. Trunk space, too, is larger, at 13.7 cubic feet.
Three adults might sit a bit closely in back, but all get 3-point safety belts. There are child-seat tethers in back as well as Ford's standard trunk release mechanism.
Too bad, though, that it's a tight squeeze for the driver to reach down to the seat controls on the side of the seat, by the door.
Lincoln has high hopes for the LS, projecting sales of 30,000 in the United States in the first year and as much as 60,000 in regular-production years. The car will also be sold in Japan and Europe.