Take your pick


A poll taken by the Surface Transportation Policy Project shows that Americans are eager to walk more, and are actually willing to pay for the privilege through federal spending to create more walkable spaces. Should we believe it?

Hard to tell. The poll was released on April Fool’s Day. What’s indisputable is that we are a nation of couch potatoes who would drive to the convenience store even if it was only two blocks away.

And we like to go in style. One of the big differences between the Jaguar S-Type and the Lincoln LS (two Ford-built cars that share the same platform) is the elegant leaping cat mounted on the former’s hood. The poor kitty didn’t look quite so refined last week, when the hood ornament caught a fast-food napkin as I drove it down Route 1, but I figure that little mascot has to be worth $10,000 — the price difference between the entry-level Jag and the Lincoln.

There was a time when the Lincoln name stood for glamour, power and sophistication. Try to picture a 1936 Lincoln V12 town car with body by LeBaron. Or imagine yourself behind the wheel of a 1956 Lincoln Mark II, an understated beauty that cost an unheard-of $10,000 back then. Glory days.

Today’s Lincoln is more modest, but the LS is still a pretty sophisticated ride whose rear-wheel-drive platform (featuring a base 232-horsepower, 3-liter V6 or a 280-horsepower, 3.9-liter V8) was built not only to accommodate the Jaguar S-Type but also potential buyers in Europe and Japan. It has advanced safety equipment, including dual side airbags, ABS brakes and traction control, and even a rear sensor to let you know you’re about to back into something.

The engineers really went to town with the Premium Sport Edition of the LS, which should appeal to Sharper Image subscribers. There is an eight-way adjustable power driver’s seat (with both heating and cooling), power-adjustable pedals and dual-zoned climate control. The five-speed automatic offers optional manual controls.

I loved the space-age stereo, built by Lucasfilms THX. The DVD-based navigation screen lifts up at the push of a button to reveal a six-disc changer underneath. It refused to show my kids Monsters, Inc., however.

I thought the Lincoln was a very nice sports sedan, especially for the $43,995 it costs with the premium package. You’d pay more for competitors like the Cadillac CTS, BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz C class or Audi A8. I happened to drive the LS back-to-back with its sister Jaguar S-Type, which is a rather spartan vehicle for the same money. The Jag’s prettier, though.

My wife considered the S-Type’s lack of heated seats to be an unforgivable breach in a luxury car, especially one from chilly Britain. If you want to keep the price in Lincoln territory, better forget about a warm bum. Only the top-of-the-line 4.2 R ($61,755) comes with them as standard.

The S-Type has been on the market since 1999, and I see a lot of them around in the upscale suburbs. I’m sure James Bond wannabes will enjoy its combination of brutishly elegant looks, excellent road-holding and traditional wood and leather ambience. If it is to be faulted, it’s in its comparatively tight quarters, challenged interior storage (neither the door pockets nor the console bin will hold a CD properly) and smallish trunk.

The Jaguar starts at $41,850; the Lincoln, $31,860. The Lincoln delivers 18/25 fuel economy in V6 mode; the Jaguar V6, 18/26.