The LS is a new rear-drive, European-style sedan that is a marked departure from Lincoln's traditional luxury liners like the Town Car and Continental. Lincoln is touting the LS as a "driver's car," stressing its dynamic abilities over soft, cushy accoutrements.
With the LS, Lincoln hopes to attract younger buyers like those who flocked to its Navigator sport utility vehicle. Navigator buyers average 46 years old, while Town Car buyers average 68.
Lincoln and Jaguar are owned by Ford, and the LS shares its platform with the Jaguar S-Type, though you probably can't tell by looking at the radically different styling on the two cars.
A vertical-bar grille capped by a chrome strip maintains a family resemblance to the Town Car and Continental, but the LS has crisper lines and trimmer dimensions than its teammates. The LS has a 114.5-inch wheelbase and 194-inch overall length. The Town Car is 21 inches longer and the Continental 14 inches longer.
A gentle slope to the roof pillars and slight wedge profile are a major contrast to the S-Type's classic Jaguar styling cues.
Unlike in other Lincoln cars, you won't find a front bench seat in the LS. It has front buckets and a floor-mounted shift lever only. The front seats accommodate tall occupants well, and a power tilt/telescopic steering column helps tailor the driving position.
Taller folks will find adequate space in the outboard rear seats, but the middle rear position is higher, firmer and split by the driveshaft tunnel. The shallow trunk has a wide, long floor and holds a modest 13.7 cubic feet of cargo. The split rear seatbacks fold for additional space.
Under the Hood
The base engine is a 3.0-liter V-6 with 210 horsepower, and in another departure from Lincoln's norm, it is available with a five-speed manual transmission, the first Lincoln to offer stick shift since 1951. Most buyers are expected to choose the five-speed automatic transmission. The LS also comes with a 252-horsepower 3.9-liter V-8 engine and automatic transmission. Both engines require premium gas.
Besides the federally required front airbags, standard safety features include side-impact airbags for the front seats, anti-lock brakes and all-speed traction control.
The V-8 is smooth as butter, refined and potent, giving the LS quick launches and great passing power. The suspension and tires are firmer than expected from Lincoln, especially with the optional Sport Package, but the payoff is in the LS's athletic, surefooted handling.
The LS is a breath of fresh air for Lincoln and a worthy rival for luxury sedans in the $30,000 to $40,000 range.