New Car/Review

Lincoln

Lincoln LS V8

SEE ALSO: Lincoln Rover Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 34,690
Price As Tested                                    $ 37,870
Engine Type              DOHC 32-valve 3.9 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
Engine Size                                 241 cid/3950 cc
Horsepower                                   252 @ 6100 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               267 @ 4300 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  114.5"/73.2"/193.9"
Transmission                           Five-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3692 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  18.0 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                         P215/60VR16 all-season
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                 85 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
city/highway/average                            17/23/21          
0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
1/4 (E.T.)                          16.0 seconds @ 91.5 mph
Top-speed                                           140 mph

* Sequential multi-port fuel injection                                     

Not content with its stodgy image of providing vehicles that cater to the more "mature" set, Lincoln has embarked on a mission to lure younger buyers and create a new image for the company. Its LS sedan combines sport and luxury in the under-$30,000 range and is set to tackle both European and Asian near-luxury sports sedans. It comes three ways: LS V6 five-speed, LS V6 automatic and as our tester, the V8 with a five-speed automatic.

OUTSIDE -With the exception of the unmistakable grille, which is in the shape of a smile with baleen-like "teeth," it is difficult to determine that this car is really a by Lincoln. The styling theme is relatively conservative but by no means is it bland. Modest amounts of chrome are found on the side windows, the sunroof and across the bumpers on some models, though the rest of the trim is painted body-color. The front overhang is offset by that in back, which is more than twice as long. Its wedged-shaped profile is more muscular than any other modern Lincoln while the slightly bulging haunches give a firmly-planted look. Fascia-mounted fog lamps are standard, as are 16-inch brushed aluminum five-spoke wheels and performance tires. An additional charge brought us the same wheels polished brightly.

INSIDE -The fully-equipped instrument cluster sits in a dashboard that wraps smoothly into the center console. The seats are covered in soft, durable-feeling leather, with a pair of wide buckets up front and a three-across bench seat in back. The power tilt and telescoping steering column, along with a multi-adjustable power driver's seat give it the flexibility to fit almost any size driver. The rear seat folds down in a 60/40 split for access to or from the trunk. The interior is roomy for five, with only the center rear passenger feeling some pinch if the back seat is filled with adults. Simulated wood trim is added to the console, dashboard and each door panel, while the wide console and ergonomically correct layout of the dashboard allow easy access of the controls.

ON THE ROAD -Two different engines are offered with the LS. The first is Ford's Duratec 3.0 liter, dual-overhead-cam V6. With 24 valves and all-aluminum construction, it produces 210 horsepower and 205 lb-ft of torque. Our test car, however, came with a new 3.9 liter V8 that is based on a very sophisticated 4.0 liter V8 that powers the new Jaguar S-Type. It also uses double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, as well as all-aluminum construction. Its 252 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque give it good off-the-line power and plenty of speed for passing. This engine features coil-on-plug ignition, platinum-tipped sparkplugs, and a true dual exhaust system that gives a sweet, muted rumble. The V6 has a five-speed manual transmission available (the first in a production Lincoln since 1951), while both engines can be had with a five-speed automatic. Buyers can opt for SelectShift, which allows manual-like gear selecting for a sporting flair.

BEHIND THE WHEEL -The LS rides on very rigid rear-drive unibody construction, which translates well to spirited driving. It uses full double-wishbone suspension with many parts being made of alloy for less unsprung and overall weight. Thick anti-sway bars are fitted front and rear, as are coil springs and premium tube shocks. Its long wheelbase provides excellent tracking at speed, while wide, "grippy" performance tires keep it sticking to the road during back road antics. Variable- ratio rack-and-pinion steering is standard, and feels linear, precise and very sensitive. The same is true for the four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) which provided short, straight braking without fade during repeated high-speed stops. Advance Trac, Lincoln's name for traction control, is an optional feature that reduces wheelspin on slippery roads.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard and side airbags, ABS and side-impact door beams are standard. Advance Trac is optional.

OPTIONS - Tri-coat paint: $365; Advance Trac: $725; polished wheels: $395; uplevel stereo: $565; CD changer: $595; Destination: $535.

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