People envy my job, thinking all I do is drive cars and trucks around. Their thinking is not entirely correct, but I do feel fortunate when I get behind the wheel of a luxury sedan like the 2001 Town Car STS. Minor modifications to the 2001 model include no-charge maintenance for three years/36,000 miles, and power adjustable accelerator and brake pedals. And, while the powerplant in the 2000 model provided 215 hp at 4,500 rpm, the 2001 4.6-liter V8 squeaks out an extra 20 horses, or 235 hp at 4,750 rpm, and 265 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

But driving a Lincoln is really all about the ride. This rear-wheel-drive beauty carries a Watt's linkage rear suspension with air springs for improved side-to-side stability, as well as less squat and lift during accelerating and braking. An SLA independent front suspension soaks up potholes and bumps for a smooth ride. To test this, I drove the Town Car across the nastiest set of railroad tracks I know. It glided over the uneven tracks, passing the test with flying colors. Contributing to the easy ride are modified coil springs and monotube shocks, as well as a 30-mm front and 18-mm rear stabilizer bars. Speed-sensitive steering works with the Town Car's smooth ride, making tight corners nearly effortless. All-speed traction control is standard fare.

To keep noise where it belongs, outside, engineers triple-sealed the doors and equipped side windows with 4.7-mm-thick glass. Wind noise, even at highway speeds, is nearly undetectable. Speaking of interiors, the Town Car is cloaked in luxurious leather. The heated front seats have power lumbar support as well as side-impact airbags. Controls for positioning and heating seats are on the doors for easy, intuitive adjustments. Heated seats are a $400 option which I consider a necessity in a luxury vehicle. There are more controls on the steering wheel than I prefer audio, cruise, and climate but they are small enough not to be too intrusive.

Let's talk about the trunk, which is nothing short of incredible. It boasts 20.6 ft3 of cargo space and is the deepest trunk I've ever seen. Over a weekend trip to Home Depot, I managed to pile five 40-lb bags of topsoil and 8 ft3 of mulch into the trunk with plenty of room to spare. Also, trunk-mounted air extractors, which are one-way valve flaps, sit near the bumper and pull interior air from the cabin. They help air conditioning and heater performance, according to Lincoln. I think they helped keep my plants alive during the hour-long drive home from the nursery.

Our test vehicle was outfitted with a $2,130 premium package which includes a power moonroof and a trunk-mounted six-disc CD changer. Base price for the Town Car STS is $41,315. With options, destination charges, and discounts, the final tally is $44,740.

Sherri Koucky