Livin’ large. Real large.
by Paul Wiley Cockerham
Lincoln’s Blackwood created the luxury sport-utility truck niche. But as a test drive—and new competition—confirm, the Blackwood seems destined to occupy a sub-niche within this market.
The competition comes from Cadillac’s Johnny-come-lately, the Escalade EXT. While the Caddy—a gussied-up Chevy Avalanche—gives a sophisticated veneer to true truck functionality, the Blackwood—a gussied-up Ford F-150 Super Crew—seems too content to get by on its looks.
Not that there’s anything wrong with this. The Blackwood simply oozes luxury. The cabin seats a party of four in firm, low-slung, Connolly leather-surfaced buckets, and there are huge center consoles fore and aft. The distinctive cargo box, trimmed in simulated Wenge wood, lined with stainless steel, enclosed by a power top and a rather strange pair of vertically-hung doors, imparts an air of concept-vehicle exclusivity.
Cruising around the Pocono roads surrounding the Jack Frost Mountain ski resort here, this 45-year-old white male imagined himself on Hollywood Boulevard and felt as close to being a rap star as he’s ever going to feel.
And cruising is what the black-only Blackwood does best. Although the engine compartment has hosted powerplants as glorious as the supercharged mill powering Ford’s Lightning, Lincoln went with the 5.4-liter, DOHC V-8, a thirsty powerplant providing few accelerative thrills, although it is quiet and smooth. Lincoln claims it does provide enough oomph to handle a Class III (standard) or Class IV (with aftermarket fittings) towing capacity of 8700 lb, good news for the conspicuously consuming horsey set.
Blackwood shows it’s best suited for boulevards and stately driveways by not offering four-wheel drive. It does have standard traction control, but not enough tire (Michelin Cross Terrains mounted on 18x8-in. wheels) to handle its 5637-lb bulk, and the big, black truck tended to plow on the twisty, damp roads leading to and from the ski lodge.
Still, ride and handling are excellent in nominal circumstances. The recirculating-ball power steering system has a good feel to it, and the suspension utilizes unequal-length arms in the front and a leaf spring/adjustable air combo in back. The unique rear setup uses a sensor that activates air bladders, providing a level ride when up to a 1200-lb cargo is carried. Four-wheel discs and ABS provide plenty of whoa when asked.
A tad confused
There is still a minor hint of Blackwood’s body-on-frame truck roots when hitting bumps and little rattles and squeaks ensue. But all in all, the Blackwood experience is extremely civilized. One sits behind a tilting, leather and wood steering wheel; combined with the heated and cooled seats and adjustable pedals, it’s difficult not to find a comfortable seating position. Staying cool is (dare we say) a breeze, thanks to the humongous air-conditioning system borrowed from the Navigator and a heavy window tint.
From the C-pillar back, however, the Blackwood seems a tad confused. The ex-cargo bed can be used best as a 26.5-cubic foot trunk, albeit a very nice trunk. The stainless-steel walls nicely set off the carpeted floor, which is illuminated by LED accent lights. But the power top limits the height of what’s carried back there. If the cargo is limited to high-ticket leather items such as golf bags, luggage and saddles, the storage area meets its mission.
A Ford press rep put it best: the Blackwood “is what it is”—a large pickup transformed into a stylish conveyance. Ten thousand units are slated for the 2002 model year, and I’ll bet there are 10,000 conspicuous consumers that’ll snap ‘em up.
2002 Lincoln Blackwood
Base price: $52,500; as tested, $54,495 (with GPS option)
Engine: 5.4-liter, 32-valve V-8, 300 hp
Drivetrain: Four-speed electronic automatic with overdrive lockout, rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential
Fuel economy: 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway
Wheelbase: 138.5 in
Length: 220.2 in
Width: 78.0 in
Height: 73.6 in
Curb weight : 5637 lb
Safety equipment: Passive anti-theft-system; locking, illuminated tonneau cover with emergency release handle; driver and front passenger front and side airbags; height-adjustable seatbelts with pretensioners; reverse sensing/warning system; four-wheel disc brakes with ABS.
Major standard features: Stainless steel, illuminated truck bed lining with power tonneau cover; dual-door rear gate; 18” aluminum wheels; Michelin P275/55R/18SL tires; four low-back bucket seats with perforated Connolly leather seating surfaces; front and rear leather-covered center consoles; wood- and leather-trimmed tilting steering wheel with duplicate climate and audio controls; simulated “Wenge Wood” rear exterior trim.
Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles
Copyright © 2001 by the Car Connection