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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Lincoln LS Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Lincoln LS Overview

Lincoln's Import Fighter is Ready for a Second Round

The LS is Lincoln's answer to the rising tide of mid-level luxury cars that are flooding in from Europe and Japan. When it was introduced in 2000, the LS was aimed squarely at the 40-somethings who usually buy BMW, Mercedes and Lexus cars and was the first Lincoln vehicle to feature a 5-speed manual transmission. Whether it was the size, the price, the styling or a combination of all three, the Lincoln LS took off and became a hit, leaving Lincoln's longtime rival Cadillac scrambling to match their move.

With the LS well established, Lincoln was set about making improvements to the 2003 vehicle without changing its overall appearance and mission. There will be no bloating for this sedan, no loss of power or handling, no garish trim or interior appointments; this time around, the evolution of a classic Lincoln product will only get better with time.

Right out of the box, the LS has one big advantage over most competitors; it shares a common platform and engine with the stunning Jaguar S-Type sedan. With genes like this, how can you go wrong? Lincoln wisely did not try to copy the Jaguar styling and opted for an edgy, angular design that is both poetic and athletic. The 2003 Lincoln has a more streamlined design with a cleaner taillight and grille treatment and new side mirrors with built-in puddle lights; also new are a series of standard and optional 17-inch alloy wheels. The result is an LS that is still easily recognizable, but upon second glance, displays a somewhat more mature appearance.

Inside, Lincoln has truly gone to town with the LS. New interior colors grace the seats, dash and door panels, augmented by a new front seat design and stitch pattern. Mimicking the new Navigator's stunning cockpit, the LS will offer the option of American burl walnut and nickel finish on the dash, center console and doors. You can order your LS with heated front and rear seats or—for those who live in climates that experience both sweltering summers and chilly winters—a heated and cooling front seat. To make the driving experience as comfortable as possible, the LS now offers power adjustable pedals as standard equipment. Other improvements include one touch up/down power windows for both front doors, rear reading lights, an electronic parking brake that replaces the traditional console mounted hand brake and an 8-way adjustable power driver's seat. A few other high-end options worth noting include the Lucusfilm THX audio system, available DVD-based navigation and a canopy side airbag protection system (available later in the model year).

Lincoln has also improved the interior materials, with a heavy use of soft-touch surface to replace the hard-edged plastic in the previous car. The new material covers the dash, door panels, center console and overhead lining.

Once the interior details were squared away, the Lincoln team was cleared to tackle the last and possibly the most important element that makes an LS an LS: power. The standard V6 engine is now more powerful, thanks to the inception of variable valve timing, which allows the engine to breathe better and thus, produce more power without an increase in fuel consumption. Engine output is now up to 232-horsepower, but sadly the 5-speed manual transmission is no longer available, replaced by a 5-speed automatic with Selectshift manual shifting. The big 3.9-liter V8 produces 280-horsepower, making a great engine even greater. If it can be said that the LS V6 is a fun car to drive, then the LS V8 is nothing short of a thrill ride.

Hopefully by now we've convinced you that the 2003 LS looks as good on paper as it does on the showroom floor; but we both know that cars don't spend their days sitting behind glass walls looking pretty. It's on the open road that the LS goes from pretty pinup to brilliant scholar. Its nearly 50/50 weight distribution gives it both balance and a dynamic ability to tackle tight turns with minimal lean. Rear wheel drive—the hallmark of a great performance car--is enhanced on the LS by the optional AdvanceTrac traction control system that kicks in whenever the onboard computer senses wheel slippage. Lincoln has improved the overall steering feel with a new ZF steering box that telegraphs more road feel back to the driver. Even in the tightest switchbacks, the LS stays planted and when you do push it too far and too fast, it does not overreact, giving you plenty of time to bring the backend inline and continue on your merry way.

Of course, not everyone will drive their LS as though they were auditioning for a spot on the next COPS TV show. For those who want their LS to ride like a Lincoln, never fear. For all its performance capabilities, the LS still returns one of the smoothest and quietest rides in the Lincoln stable. Is buying an LS like getting two cars for the price of one? We can't answer that; maybe you should ask one of the many men and women who already own one.

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