2003 Lincoln LS
This 2003 review is representative of model years 2003 to 2006.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The Lincoln LS sports-luxury sedan has major improvements, but continues to lack the pizzazz to be truly competitive with foreign rivals such as BMW and Jaguar.
Lincoln says that more than 500 LS parts are new or redesigned for improved performance, more refinement and greater comfort and convenience.
Significant changes to the 2003 model include revised styling, more powerful V6 and V8 engines, a revised interior and improved handling and braking. There's also more useful standard features, such as power-adjustable pedals and a Jaguar-style switch-operated parking brake.
The LS was introduced in 1999 as a 2000 model and was meant to be a competitor to foreign sports-luxury sedans; however, styling was ordinary, and the car's V6 was underpowered. The interior was almost painfully plain.
That's somewhat curious because the LS has the same basic platform as the Jaguar S-Type and has a rear-drive layout and nearly 50-50 weight distribution for good balance. One problem is that the LS can do things such as tackle twisting roads, but doesn't really encourage sporty driving, as does a BMW.
It's also questionable if the majority of Lincoln dealers know how to properly sell the LS, especially when it's in showrooms with the gigantic Town Car sedan—and when the average age of Lincoln buyers is approximately 65.
Manual Transmission Gone
The LS now is offered only with a responsive 5-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift feature—not the same thing as a "pure" manual.
I drove the LS with both dual-overhead-camshaft, multi-valve engines—and found that the V6 provides much livelier acceleration. The previously acceptable V8 delivers stronger acceleration.
Variable valve timing and electronic throttle control help provide smoother and more accurate power delivery.
Most Want V8
Estimated fuel economy is decent with either engine: 20 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway with the V6, and 18 mpg and 25 with the V8.
The LS V6 comes in base $31,860 trim and $37,420 Premium trim. The V8 is sold in $40,220 Sport trim and as the $43,520 Premium Sport sedan.
Lots of Equipment
The V8 versions add a sport suspension and slightly larger wheels and tires to more capably handle the added horsepower. Those items don't much affect the car's comfortable ride.
The Premium Sport has a power sunroof, wood interior trim and chrome alloy wheels. Those items are optional for other trim levels.
Other options include a $2,995 navigation system, which isn't as complicated as some such systems, along with $400 heated rear seats and a $295 rear-obstacle detection system.
Among safety features are front side air bags, anti-lock brakes and optional side curtain air bags.
The spruced-up interior is a definite improvement, with available burl walnut and satin nickel trim, but some materials aren't as good as those in rivals. The available wood-and-leather steering wheel looks good, but its wood surface is slippery. The cockpit is quiet, although wind noise is noticeable at highway speeds.
The power front bucket seats are supportive and come heated and cooled in all but the base trim version. Gauges can be read quickly, and the ignition switch is easily reached on the dashboard.
A small parking brake release lever in the console replaces the traditional hand brake lever. It looks like an ashtray cover and frees console space for a fairly deep storage bin and sliding center armrest—and two good-sized cupholders.
Climate controls are large, but there is no radio-tuning knob, and sound system controls are only moderately sized.
The long trunk has a low opening, but only small suitcases can sit upright and bulky manual lid hinges eat into cargo space.
It remains to be seen if the LS improvements will increase the car's sales. It's definitely improved, but is in a very competitive market.