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2006 Lincoln LS reviews

April 9, 2006 10:06 PM EST | Lincoln , Sedans | Email to Friend

View large imageA smooth and comfortable entry-level luxury sedan that lacks the refinement and athleticism of its newer competition.

Confidence-inspiring steering and handling, standard V8 delivers plenty of smooth and quiet power, comfortable and roomy interior, optional THX-certified sound system.

Lack of a manual transmission keeps it from true sport sedan status, build quality lags behind German and Japanese competitors, not as nimble as other sport sedans in its class.

What's New for 2006
Lincoln has discontinued the V6 engine for 2006 and trimmed the car's remaining styles down to a single V8 Sport model, which includes a chrome grille with body-color surround, round foglamps and body-color rear license plate trim. Updated wheel designs and two new option packages round out the changes for '06.

Introduced for the 2000 model year, the midsize, rear-drive LS is Lincoln's most advanced vehicle in terms of technology and engineering, and it has attracted a much younger clientele than Lincoln dealerships are traditionally used to seeing. Unfortunately, it has never attracted these buyers in the numbers that Lincoln would like.

From the start, Lincoln aimed the LS squarely at the European brands and, specifically, BMW and Mercedes buyers. In 2003, the LS benefited from extensive updates that saw its 3.9-liter V8 pick up an additional 28 horsepower for a total of 280. Minor transmission and suspension improvements were added for 2004 to further refine the Lincoln's road manners and shift quality. The 2004 model year also saw interior improvements designed to give the car a more upscale ambience (real walnut trim found its way to the options list) along with more storage space. Features like side curtain airbags, a high-grade sound system and an onboard navigation system were also added to the options list.

Plunk down about $40,000 and you get a well-mannered V8-powered entry-level luxury sedan with plenty of room for four adults. That the LS is an agreeable car is not in doubt. More of a concern for potential buyers, though, is what else one can get in the $35,000 to $50,000 price range. It's here that our interest in the LS starts to wane. More power and style can be had from Chrysler's 300C and 300C SRT-8, for instance. And if one doesn't focus on a V8 requirement, there's also the more refined Acura TL or the new BMW 330i and Lexus IS 350. The Lincoln LS is still worth a look, but there are at least a half-dozen competitors we'd look at first.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The midsize Lincoln LS sedan is available in one trim level: V8 Sport. A host of standard features are included, such as 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, auto-dimming mirrors and power seats with driver's memory. Various optional upgrades include a power moonroof, HID headlights, heated and cooled front seats, walnut burl wood trim, power-adjustable pedals and a DVD-based navigation system combined with a THX-certified six-CD audio system. Many of these options are bundled into the available Elite and Premium option packages.

Powertrains and Performance:
The sole powertrain is a 3.9-liter V8 that boasts 280 hp and 286 lb-ft of torque. This V8 is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels.

Traction control is standard across the line, while the AdvanceTrac stability control system is optional. The Lincoln's four-wheel antilock disc brakes are equipped with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and BrakeAssist. Side airbags for front passengers are standard; full-length head-curtain airbags and rear parking sensors are optional. In NHTSA crash testing, the LS scored five stars for protection of the driver in frontal impacts and four stars for front-passenger protection. Side-impact tests resulted in a four-star score for front-seat occupants and five stars for rear-seat passengers. In 40-mph frontal-offset crash testing by the IIHS, the LS received a "Good" rating (the best possible).

Interior Design and Special Features:
Materials quality is not up to the level of import competitors', but real wood, faux titanium and chrome accents add some visual interest to the LS cockpit. The leather upholstery is soft to the touch, and although the well-cushioned chairs provide excellent comfort during highway cruising, their lack of lateral support makes them unsuitable for more spirited driving. The backseat offers more room than most entry-level luxury sedans, as even 6-footers will find ample head-, leg- and foot room.

Driving Impressions:
Smooth and gutsy off the line, the V8 remains quiet while providing strong acceleration from almost any speed. The Lincoln's handling is commendable considering its size, but as the turns get smaller, the LS begins to feel bigger. Out on the highway, the Lincoln LS plays the part of a touring sedan almost perfectly, offering both a smooth ride and secure handling. But as a sport sedan, it's average at best.

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