What's New for 2001
V6 models now come with standard traction control and optional AdvanceTrac. All models receive a glow-in-the-dark manual trunk release and child safety-seat anchor points. The sport package has a new 17-inch chrome wheel design and a mini spare tire and wheel instead of the previous 16-inch nonmatching aluminum wheel (both late availability). Inside, there is an additional power point, a revised cupholder design, an optional in-dash six-disc CD changer and an optional mirror-mounted compass. The height-adjustable rear-seat head restraints have been deleted from V8 automatics. Four new exterior colors are offered. Lincoln now offers complimentary maintenance at no additional charge for the first three years/36,000 miles in service.
Is it possible to create a car that melds American luxury with European driving dynamics? Sure. Witness the Cadillac Catera. But how about one that's actually good?
Fortunately, the Lincoln LS can answer the call. Now one year old, the LS is one of our favorite entry-level luxury sedans. It is Lincoln's most advanced vehicle in terms of technology, and it is attracting a much younger clientele than Lincoln dealerships are used to seeing.
While many entry-luxury sedans are just warmed-over versions of lower-level cars (like the Infiniti I30 and Nissan Maxima, for instance), the rear-drive LS shares its platform with the more upscale Jaguar S-Type.
From the start, Lincoln aimed the LS squarely at the European and, specifically, BMW market. The LS' front end calls attention to this with its tight quad headlights, swooping central grille and clean hood lines.
Buyers can select from one of two engines that both meet LEV standards. The first is a 3.0-liter V6 that produces 210 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 205 foot-pounds of torque at 4,750 rpm. It is offered with either a five-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission. But with a 3,600-pound curb weight, the V6 LS is somewhat underpowered (given the car's sporting intentions), so Lincoln also offers a V8.
This DOHC, 32-valve, 3.9-liter V8 generates 252 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 267 foot-pounds of torque at 4,300. Power delivery is smooth and linear. Zero-to-60 acceleration with the V8 is a quick 7.5 seconds. The engine is hobbled, however, by the five-speed automatic. It is often befuddled, and shifts made using the Sportshift mode (available with the sport package) lag noticeably.
Handling ability is very good, especially when the LS is equipped with the optional sport package. The steering is quick and communicative. Ride quality can sometimes be harsh, but overall, the Lincoln strikes a nice balance between luxury and performance. Traction control is standard and the AdvanceTrac stability control system is optional.
Inside, the LS offers a decent selection of luxury features. The usual suspects are all present, from leather seating surfaces and premium sound to dual-zone climate controls and a driver-preference memory system for seats, mirrors and the steering wheel. The optional RESCU emergency messaging system is definitely worth considering, and there's now an optional six-disc in-dash CD changer. GPS navigation, however, is still MIA. Oh, and can we have more interior storage space and better build quality, please?
Minor points aside, the LS is an impressive car. Plunk down $30,000 to $40,000, and you basically get a European sedan with an American nameplate and interior space. If every American carmaker that tried to take on the Europeans succeeded to the extent the LS does, the world would be a far better place.