Looking Back: 2000 Lincoln LS

260,000 examples in a six-year period isn’t bad.

1999 Lincoln LS. Image: motortrend

The LS racked up a few awards, namely Motor Trend’s car of the year 2000 and it was nominated as American Car of the Year, although it was pipped by Ford’s Focus and Audi’s TT. The LS was also Lincoln’s first attempt to fight off its reputation as a car for the nearly dead. That battle is reminiscent of Cadillac’s fight for a younger image, a fight Lincoln is still losing 15 years later.

The LS shared its main elements with the Jaguar S-type and Ford Thunderbird and had a similarly contentious styling. Of the two saloons (while we’re comparing) the Jaguar managed a better job than the Lincoln. The 2000 Car Buyer’s Guide called the design ‘ho-hum’. I’d call it a derivative mash-up of VW Passat, Mitsubishi Diamante, Opel Astra, Ford Edge Design details and Lincoln motifs.

According to Automotive Industries Magazine the car had to look as if it could do battle with well-established German players such as BMW and Audi while also having a passing resemblance to the markedly different vehicles in the Lincoln showroom: the Navigator (a top seller), the Town Car (an icon in the livery trade) and the Continental (uhm…). That was never going to work. It ended up being clearly a committee car.

Ford dearly wanted the LS to be a sport saloon and went to the trouble of engineering a manual transmission. About 3000 customers ordered that, indicating that nearly none of its drivers wanted a sports saloon. They wanted a Lincoln they could afford. The LS price matched the Buick Park Avenue which was still selling well and was cheaper than Cadillac’s ill-starred Catera.

2000 Lincoln LS. It looked questionable when new. Fifteen years later I see Astra wheel arches and crude detailing on the front bumper´s chrome: wikipedia.org
2000 Lincoln LS. It looked questionable when new. Fifteen years later I see Astra wheel arches and crude detailing on the front bumper’s chrome: wikipedia.org

It didn’t tread on the Jaguar’s toes, being about $10,000 cheaper than the equivalent S-type V6 and $13,000 cheaper than the S-type V-8. A base model C-class cost about the same which tells you how excessively cheap the Lincoln was. It came close to the A6 though, in price. In no other way, of course.

The LS is not destined for a happy afterlife. The V6 and V8 engines have a dire reputation for reliability and spares are costly. People write articles like this. It is unloved. A particular problem is overheating due to a worn impeller in the cooling system. And if you don’t get that you get sticky shifts when the engine is at operating temperature in V6 and V8 models. All this despite rave reviews for its value, handling and comfort from Motor Trend  who ran both versions for a year.

2000 Lincoln LS interior. American luxury or Toyota Camry LXE?: autoevolution.com
2000 Lincoln LS interior. American luxury or Toyota Camry LXE?: autoevolution.com

Fifteen years on, the template for Lincoln trying to mix it with the class-leaders is established and despite the plaudits the car got for not driving like a typical Lincoln, it’s a rather clear example of injudicious styling and questionable quality.

Essence of Diamante: autoblog.com
Essence of Diamante: autoblog.com

While the 5 series, A6 and E-class have carried on, gently updating their cars, the Lincoln LS was replaced by the front-drive Zephyr, another new name and another new architecture, related to the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. Absent Jaguar, Ford had no choice but to let Lincoln revert to type as a badge-engineered Ford rather than a twin of a car from another class and quality.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

17 thoughts on “Looking Back: 2000 Lincoln LS”

  1. The LS has always interested me. It made commercial sense to Ford at the time, but in hindsight it was a mistake. Back in the days of TWBCM website, I got bored of the bar room ” The S-Type is just a rebodied Lincoln” jibe, pointing out that more correctly the Lincoln is a rebodied Jaguar, since it would never have existed in that form, had Jaguar not needed a mid-range car.

    But, of course, the knowledge that there was commonality with the Lincoln did affect the S-Type’s acceptance, though surprisingly probably more in the egalitarian US of A than the snobbish Old World. Here we just have a prejudice against cars that look like turds, though I do admit that, viewed next to a Lincoln, the Jaguar seems almost competent – it is really hard to believe that well-trained and well-paid professionals actually design things as clumsy as that.

    Does the S-Type also suffer the Lincoln’s engine and transmission problems, or are they a result of having to assemble similar mechanicals into a car that sells for $10,000 less?

  2. Thanks Richard for bringing this to our attention. I agree that the exterior is ghastly; it must have appeared out of date even at launch. Although I cannot vouch for the materials used, the interior looks like a nice place to spend time. A shame then that the engineering lacks longevity, as otherwise a heavily depreciated LS would make an amusing bargain runabout.

    The LS/S-Type pairing is interesting too, both products being marred by a lack of clarity in their planning and styling processes. Of course, the triumphs and travails of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group is another story entirely.

    1. I admit to having a bit of a guilty crush on this era of Kia Magentis; once going as far as seeing what they were going for on Autotrader. Oh crap, did I actually say that out loud?

    2. In fairness, the facelifted version wasn’t all that bad… oh well, that’s my credibility (assuming I ever had any) shot to pieces. Me and my big mouth…

    3. You think that’s bad? I was once considering buying a Hyundai Sonata…

    4. Come on in Chris, the water’s surprisingly lukewarm, and the liebfraumilch is on me…

    5. I was tempted to look at a bargain LS for sale here earlier this year (Lincoln! RHD! DEW98! Different to a Falcon!) but it was a V6. That didn’t seem appropriate. I just browsed the People’s Encyclopedic Republic of Wikipedia and it turns out the LS was styled by a German and uses Jaguar AJ6 and AJ8 engines. So if we’re thumbing our noses at this woebegone Lincoln let’s remember that Europeans had a hand in stuffing it up, even if they were allowed to by the leadership at Dearborn.

      Still, if you souped-up or replaced the AJV8, and lost some of the fussier chrome trim if it hasn’t already fallen off there’s off-brand Q car fun to be had with an old LS. Wikipedia has some shots of the LS in dark colours without the tacky chrome moustache on the front bumper. I’d rather own a car that looks like a Mitsubishi Diamante rendered by a hungover designer with a blunt set of crayolas than whatever the S-Type is supposed to look like.

    6. “I’d rather own a car that looks like a Mitsubishi Diamante rendered by a hungover designer with a blunt set of crayolas than whatever the S-Type is supposed to look like”.

      That remark made me laugh out loud, Mark. Thank you.

      By the way, I’d still have a Kia Magentis over either of the above. I could at least tell people I was being ironic. How on earth could you possibly justify an S-type?

    7. I have occasionally considered an S-Type, preferably the bustle-arsed facelift with a supercharged V8 under the bonnet. Lesser engined models, and I mean that in relative terms, with a good few miles on the clock can be had for literally peanuts. Although let’s face it, you’ll probably need a lot more peanuts to feed this elephant.

  3. At the time I thought the LS was alright. A necessary styling palate cleanser in the multi course meal of transitioning Lincoln from retiree landyacht Americarna to a globally-acceptable luxury carmaker. Bland styling hadn’t hurt sales of that other LS from that other mass-market carmaker from the other side of the Pacific. Plus, who knew where else that DEW98 platform would end up – maybe a new Falcon? Times were exciting for Ford fans, even if the LS styling wasn’t. We could have had Gerry ‘I’m Gerry McGovern’ McGovern sharp-suited PAG Lincolns in RHD now if it had worked. They coulda been contenders I tell ya!

  4. At the time the LS looked ineffective and it only gets worse with time. A large 1997 Passat feature appears on the flanks. I am with Chris in not hating the S-type though only in its facelifted form.
    The other LS had the advantage of being a properly good car from a brand one can believe in. I have no problems with the Mk1 as its flawless; the Mk 2 is a mish-mash but very well made and the hybridy one looks properly expensively made unlike the S-class or 7-Series (the new Passat seems to achieve the same trick).
    Hello Katejan! Nice to see you here. Yes, Gerry “I’m Gerry McGovern” McGovern’s designs are superb. For five years he and his team showed the way and FoMoCo refused to follow. Nobody knows why. The work still shines today.

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