2003 Lincoln LS

Introduced in 1999 as a 2000 model year vehicle, the Lincoln LS was based on the Ford DEW98 platform which was also shared with the Jaguar S-Type and the Ford Thunderbird. This platform was a rigid chassis that featured independent double wishbone front and rear suspensions for ride quality and excellent handling. The LS also featured a large 114.5-inch wheelbase that enhanced ride quality while also increasing interior space. Ford's AdvanceTrac traction control system was available as an option to improve driving control while four-wheel antilock disc brakes were standard.

The successor to the Lincoln Mark VIII coupe, the LS was the first Lincoln in decades that offered an optional manual transmission. Produced until 2006, the LS was a rear wheel drive, mid-size sedan and was originally going to be called the LS6 and LS8 depending on engine choice. These variations were instead replaced with LS V6 and LS V8 following concern from Toyota's Lexus division regarding potential naming confusion with its Lexus LS.

The Lincoln LS was the original entry-level vehicle that was owned by a Ford brand since the XR4Ti and the Merkur Scorpio which had been introduced in 1989. The LS was devised with the hope of being a popular alternative to Japanese and European luxury sport sedans, so with this in mind, the LS had available V8 power, near 50/50 weight distribution and rear wheel drive. The Lincoln department hoped to appeal to a younger crowd interested in the luxury market, and also those who would have originally picked Mercedes-Benz or BMW when searching for a luxury sport sedan.

Hoping to appeal to an entirely different market than before, the LS was somewhat ‘related' to the Jaguar S-Type, which was introduced in the same year, but plenty of differences separated them. Both vehicles had their own design teams and the Lincoln LS was ‘distinctive in style and content'. German born chief designer, Helmuth Schrader designed the LS to be competitive in its segment and able to handle its own alongside Mercedes and BMW. Schrader designed the LS to have a functional, no nonsense image, but still make it recognizable as a Lincoln vehicle.

The completed Lincoln LS was a very modest vehicle with a well-proportioned outside design with squared-off edges, similar to the S-Type. Also on the exterior were trapezoidal headlight housing and rectangular fog lights. The LS had a very sporty and athletic body with a tightly sculpted profile. The short front and rear overhand to emphasize the LS and well-rounded wheel housing were made purposely small to give the appearance that the vehicles wheels were larger than actual size. Found on the front and rear fascias were subtle chrome accents as well as Lincoln's signature waterfall grille.

Inside the Lincoln LS was an extraordinary amount of headroom and was accentuated by a very sleek arch roofline. Unlike the outside of the vehicle, the inside of the LS was quite similar to the Jaguar S-Type and shared a similar dashboard layout, gauges and controls. Everything inside the LS was easily manageable and convenient for the driver, with large knobs on the gauges that made them simple and straightforward. Other controls like audio and climate control were placed in the center of the vehicle to provide optimum convenience for both the driver and the co-pilot. The steering wheel was wooden, wrapped in leather and wood accents peppered the interior on the door panels and dashboard area. Standard models included leather seated and front power bucket seats that were bolstered for a firm feeling, just like the competitors the LS was up against. Other standard accoutrements included power locks with keyless entry, power door locks, power heated mirrors, automatic headlights, AC with automatic climate control, cruise and AM/FM cassette radio. Available options included a power moon-roof, a universal garage door opener and a six-disc in-dash CD changer.

To save weight on the vehicle, a variety of suspension components, in addition to the deck-lid, the hood and front fenders were all comprised of aluminum. Standard on the LS were 16 inch alloy wheels, though 17 inch wheels were available through an optional sport package. The battery was placed in the spare tire well that was found inside the vehicles trunk rather than in the engine bay.

For the base model, an all-aluminum 3.0 L DOHC V6; a variant of the Ford Duratec 30 engine was utilized. The LS also offered an all-aluminum 3.9 L DOHC V8 as optional, which was a de-bored variant of the Jaguar 4.0 L AJ-26 V8. To get the best possible performance, both engines required premium-grade gasoline. Unfortunately Lincoln ended production of the manual transmission model LS following 2002 and a particularly slow sales season. Only 2,331 units were produced.

One could purchase a fully equipped Special Edition V8 LSE trims in 2004 for around $450,000 or a more basic V6 model for around $30,000 in 1999. By 2006 prices had leaped to $36,945 for a base model and $49,100 for a top-of-the-line LS model. The entry-level V6 was deleted from the lineup which caused the huge increase in price. The now V8-only LS went from entry-level luxury segment to the mid-level luxury segment.

The Limited Special Edition package was introduced in 2002 and was available in both V6 and V8 variations. The LSE came with a revised fascia that included round fog lamp openings along with a unique metallic grille treatment and a enlarged lower body rocker panels, twin dual exhaust tailpipes and very unique wheels.

The V8-equpped Lincoln LS was tested at 0-60mph at just seven seconds by Motor Trend and Car and Driver while the V6 model could achieve 0-60 mph in seconds. For 2000 the Lincoln LS was dubbed Motor Trend's Car of the Year, and was also nominated for the North American Car of the Year award. All Lincoln LS models were built at Ford's Wixom Assembly Plant. On April 3, 2006 production of the Lincoln LS was ended, with a grand total of around 262,900 LS models constructed.

By Jessica Donaldson
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