- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2003

We described the Lincoln LS as the best domestic luxury car in modern history when it was introduced in 1999 as a 2000 model. Four years later after a week behind the wheel of the LX V-8, it remains the top domestic luxury car and a true challenger to the best from Europe and Asia.

Strong words but we’ll stand behind them. The LS appearance is dignified rather than sexy, but its design has stood the test of time.

The current model has been refined and features new front and rear treatments. All new headlamps, grille and fascia provide a more modern look. High-intensity-discharge headlamps are optional.

Lincoln’s designers have provided a cleaner appearance to the rear deck lid, tail lamps, license plate surround and rear fascia.

The LS is again offered in V-6 and V-8 configurations. Both engines pack additional horsepower for 2003. The V-6 offers 232 horses and 220 foot-pounds of torque. This is 12 added horses over the previous model.

The 3.9-liter V-8 produces 280 horsepower and 286 foot-pounds of torque.

It is not an overpowering engine but there is plenty of strength when it is needed in passing situations.

It also produces excellent midrange torque. Surprisingly it is also quite thrifty with an EPA rating of 18 miles per gallon city and 24 highway. During driving that included city streets, freeways and two-lane highways, the test car averaged 22.1 miles per gallon.

Mated to the engine is an extremely smooth five-speed automatic transmission.

The engine also benefits from electronic throttle control (ETC) with throttle pedal position sensor and an electronic control algorithm, replacing the traditional cable system.

Lincoln claims its system is superior to others because it provides quicker response and more uniform acceleration from gear to gear.

Our driving experience was that the LS is an extremely smooth customer under way.

It doesn’t claim to provide true sports sedan performance but it took the tight turns on mountain roads without complaint.

A new ZF speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering system provides significantly stiffer handling and provides improved road feedback to the driver.

The suspension dampers have been made larger for better control of the body motion and the front suspension has been retuned.

Not included on the test car was the optional AdvanceTrac active vehicle dynamic system that provides the driver with assistance for improved control of understeer and oversteer.

Safety hasn’t been overlooked. In addition to the standard dual front and side-impact air bags there is an optional Safety Canopy side-curtain air-bag system.

One of the nice features that we enjoyed was the electronic parking brake that replaces the hand or foot emergency brake. Just push it down or up and the job is done.

We look forward to seeing this feature on future products from Ford Motor Co.

The new touch-screen DVD navigation system was installed on the test car. It lifts electrically to expose a six-disc in-dash CD changer.

If you have little use for a navigation system, and most people don’t, not ordering that option will save you $2,995.

As befits a luxury car, the LS makes good use of American burl oak for trim on the interior.

The front seats offer numerous adjustments including heating and cooling units within the seats that work in conjunction with the air conditioner/heater.

There is little not to like on the LS and our claim that it is the best domestic luxury car still stands.

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