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2002 Lincoln LS

     Judging from the new LS sedan, Lincoln learned something simple but profound.
   A new generation of Americans wants to buy American luxury cars that don’t feel American. Rather than the stereotypical marshmallowy, boat-like feel of big Lincolns and Cadillacs, they want cars that feel European — tight, fast and precise.

    That’s exactly what the new LS portrays, a distinct departure from the stodgy feel of its big brother, Town Car. It corners like a slot car and has a responsive throttle, precise steering and even is available with a manual transmission.
    It’s also highly refined. Highway trips are smooth and quiet, as bumps and potholes are softened nearly as well as in the road yachts. It has plenty of power with a 3.9-liter V8, but you wouldn’t know it from the dead silence when you turn the key.
    And, like any Lincoln, it’s luxurious. Consider:
    — Power bucket seats are covered in supple leather that rivals the best from Europe.
    — A memory driver’s seat, standard on the V8, can accommodate three different seating, steering wheel and mirror positions.
    — Optional heated front seats are available, and theater-style seating provides better visibility for rear-seat passengers while creating extra room under the vehicle for a larger fuel tank.
    — An electronic message center allows drivers to access vehicle information, including maintenance requirements and fuel economy. It even tells you how far you can drive before needing to fill ‘er up.
    — A dual-zone climate control system filters the incoming air. Lincoln claims it keeps out more than 90 percent of dust, pollen and other particles.

    Windshield wipers activate automatically when they detect moisture on the windshield.
    The real hallmark of the LS, though, is its performance. It has sportscar-like 50/50 weight distribution that improves breaking and handling at the limit. Like in Mazda’s Miata roadster, the battery is mounted in the trunk to help balance the weight perfectly.
    Steering is very precise and communicative, although it can feel a bit heavy at slower speeds. It has speed-sensitive steering that provides more help at slow speeds for easy maneuverability and less resistance at high speeds for a sporty feel.
    The V8 engine is a sweet, silent powerplant — at least with the doors closed. It produces a mountain of torque at low RPM and keeps pulling to the redline to make a peak 252 horsepower, perfect for spirited driving. The standard LS comes with a 215-horsepower V6, also a nice choice for its performance and refinement.
    Styling is understated and elegant, with clear influence from the BMW 5-series in its front end. A classy split grille with taut, creasing lines looks blatantly European to mirror the car’s handling and performance. Its rear is too bland, though, to fit with the subtle athletic look of the rest of the vehicle.
    Headlamps are integrated into the body surface, and the fog lamps have a complex reflector design that helps improve visibility in poor weather. The dual exhaust pipes curve down at each lower rear corner and are concealed by the rear bumper fascia.
    The interior is a showpiece of style and quality, as panels and controls feel tight and well-constructed. Burl walnut veneer and a long, flowing center console give it a warm, inviting look.
    Overall, the LS is a clear winner as it appeals to younger customers without alienating its incredibly loyal, yet aging, Town Car buyers.
    Way to go, Lincoln.  

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