2001 Lincoln LS

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2000 Lincoln LS

This 2000 review is representative of model years 2000 to 2002.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Rating: 6.5
Pros:
  • Smooth ride, yet some sporty handling
  • Five-speed manual transmission available
  • Competitive V6 power, and strong V8 offered, too
Cons:
  • Is quality up to luxury-car standards?
  • It's a Lincoln, but the wood is fake
  • Rear-end styling

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 between 30 and 50 years of age, and ambitious—aggressive, even. You might be a manager right now, but you want to be a company vice president.

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.

Distinctly different
If this doesn't sound much like the traditional Lincoln buyer who's 65, gray-haired and retired, you're catching on that the LS is intended for a much different crowd than the loyal Lincoln Town Car and Continental set. This younger crowd is why Lincoln engineers truly sweated the details in the development of the 2000 Lincoln LS. And it shows.

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
“Smooth” is just the start. Road bumps are cushioned to keep out roughness but not in a numbing, isolated way. You still feel the road as a driver, especially with the optional sport package that adds larger, performance tires and firmer suspension.

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
In fact, the LS has the same platform as the 2000 Jaguar S-Type. But the Lincoln LS delivers a perceptibly sportier ride than its undercarriage sibling. Indeed, I had to constantly remind myself I was in a Lincoln during test drives of the LS.

Suspension got special attention
Much of the stable handling, of course, stems from a rigid new body and the fully independent suspension, which has a host of aluminum parts, including front and rear control arms, to minimize that unsprung weight. Reducing this weight helps the tires maintain better road contact on uneven, pitted roads.

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 LS comes with one of two engines, both of which are new applications for Lincoln's parent company, Ford Motor Co.

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
The LS V8 is also a new engine, pumping out 252 horsepower at 6100 rpm and 267 lb-ft of torque at 4300 rpm. Many competitors in the segment don't even offer V8s, and Lincoln officials boast that their starting price for an LS V8—just over $35,000 including destination charge—is less than the price of some V6-powered luxury cars.

Pleasing style, mostly
The LS styling inside and out is largely formal, as you'd expect in a luxury car. But there are some sporty, expressive cues, such as the short overhangs front and rear, wide stance of the tires and the shiny chrome grille that seems a toned-down version of the one on the brutish Lincoln Navigator.

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?
Too bad the quality on the test car wasn't up to snuff. Inside, the glovebox door was hung so a gap at one side was bigger than on the other. Meanwhile, one part of the center console was attached sloppily, so the seam between plastic pieces wasn't consistent. And the center piece of the steering wheel, where the airbag resides, wasn't centered.

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
Still, there's good headroom, front and rear. In fact, the LS without moonroof has more headroom than the Lexus ES 300 and Mercedes-Benz C280.

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.

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BB03 - 9/18/2014 11:17:50 PM