The LS sedan is based on the same rear-drive platform as the Jaguar S-TYPE, but the two cars look nothing alike. The S-TYPE has traditional Jaguar styling cues, and the LS wears Lincolns traditional conservative attire (Ford owns Lincoln and Jaguar).
Both debuted for the 2000 model year, and the LS has succeeded in attracting younger buyers to Lincoln and boosting the brands sales though the Town Car is still Lincolns best seller.
For 2001, Lincoln tries to connect with Web-savvy buyers by offering advanced telematics and communication capability in all its models. Using an optional hands-free, voice-activated mobile phone, customers will be able to access features such as 24-hour emergency service (similar to General Motors OnStar system), e-mail, stock quotes, news, weather and sports.
All 2001 Lincoln models also get free scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles, matching a benefit some luxury import brands provide.
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 measures about 15 inches longer.
A gentle slope to the roof pillars and slight wedge profile are a major contrast to the S-TYPEs rounded, sweeping styling.
Unlike other Lincoln cars, you wont find a front bench seat in the LS. It has front buckets and a floor-mounted shift lever only. The front seats have ample space for tall occupants, and a power tilt/telescopic steering column helps tailor the driving position.
Taller passengers 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 Ford 3.0-liter V-6 with 210 horsepower, and in another departure from Lincolns norm, it has been available with a five-speed manual transmission since the 2000 model introduction the first Lincoln to offer a stick shift since 1951. Most buyers choose the standard five-speed automatic transmission. The LS also is available with a 252-hp 3.9-liter V-8 Jaguar engine and the automatic transmission. Both engines require premium gas.
In addition to the federally required front airbags, standard safety features include side-impact airbags for the front seats, antilock brakes and all-speed traction control.
The V-8 is as 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 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.