Lincoln is well-known for large, luxury sedans marketed towards an affluent, older generation. Recognizing the need for a long overdue shot-in-the-arm, engineers at Lincoln created the sporty, luxurious LS.

The freshly designed chassis carries no components over from existing platforms. A 50/50 weight distribution comes from aluminum control arms and uprights and mounting the battery in the trunk. The front and rear short long-arm suspensions seat the rear spring and shock absorbers against the frame rail, giving a rigid anchor that minimizes body pitch during hard acceleration and braking. Fluid-filled front suspension bushings allow independent tuning of both the mount’s stiffness and degree of damping provided.

Power-assisted four-wheel-disc brakes provide the stopping power behind the LS. Dual-piston aluminum front calipers minimize unsprung weight. The dual-piston design packages allows large, vented front rotors to be used.

The power behind the LS comes in two forms — a 3.0-liter V6 and 3.9-liter V8. The V6 powerplant mates to either a five-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic, while the V8 links with the automatic tranny. The manual transmission is the first being offered in a Lincoln since the 1951 Cosmopolitan. An optional SelectShift transmission uses an H pattern to provide two different shift modes. The left leg of the H is used to select park, reverse, neutral, D5, and D4 positions. When the lever is moved to the right of the H, the manual shift mode engages. Tapping the lever forward upshifts while a downward tap downshifts. If the lever isn’t moved, the transmission stays in the selected gear up the redline. However, if wheel speed, engine rpm, and accelerator position are above the programmed limit, the engine-control module overrides the manual shift by shutting down the fuel supply.

All-speed traction control is standard with the V8, and optional on the V6 with the automatic tranny. The powertrain-control module senses wheel slip through the ABS system’s wheel-speed sensors. An interactive vehicle dynamics system, called AdvanceTrac, has its roots in Formula One racing. The optional system monitors driver inputs such as steering, throttle, and brakes, and vehicle responses such as yaw, lateral acceleration, and wheel speed to control brake force and vehicle stability. It maintains vehicle stability at the limits of tire adhesion by a combination of a yaw rate sensor, the antilock-braking system, and the traction-control system. Data from the yaw rate sensor, a steering-wheel position sensor, a lateral acceleration sensor, and wheel-speed sensors are monitored through the steering wheel by a control computer. The system applies the brakes at one or more wheels to correct excessive body yaw. For example, if the yaw rate is excessive in a turn, brake force on the outside front wheel helps keep the vehicle on the road. If the yaw rate is lower than intended by the driver, force is applied to the inside front brake.

For safety, engineers gave the LS a double-rail, double-torque-box body. They claim it helps dissipate impact loads throughout the structure. Computer simulation and analysis helped in directing body panel welds and positioning high-strength steel where it was most effective. Steel beams in the door cavities help protect in side impacts. The fuel tank is tucked away under the rear seat with a steel rear subframe for added protection. Also, an inertia switch automatically stops fuel delivery during a rollover or major collision.

In the comfort zone, leather seats are standard, with manual or power adjustments for lumbar support, head restraint height, and backrest recline. A metal-foam support pan in the seats reduces vibration. Also, a dual automatic temperature-control system uses electric actuators and an electrically controlled water valve operated by an electronic control module (ECM) instead of vacuum actuators and a blend door to mix hot and cold air. A pair of sensors located at the windshield base detects sun load differences between the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle, allowing the ECM to factor in the necessary adjustments for the right cabin temperature. Air routes to the windshield defroster outlets, side-window demisters, four midlevel vent registers in the instrument panel, and to rear-passenger ducts in the center console.

Last but not least is the price issue. Competing with the likes of the Cadillac Seville with a hefty base price of $53,000, LS models range from $31,000 to $35,000, a rather friendly alternative.