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It's Time for Lincoln to Take Another Shot at a Pickup Truck

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author photo by Eric Brandt April 2018

Lincoln is one of my favorite car brands to root for. That's partly because Ford's luxury brand is an underdog that not only has the whole luxury car industry to compete with, but tough local competition with a century-old rival. But it's also because I think Lincoln has been making all of the right moves lately. When a car brand is in a rut, and when it does everything that it should do, I love to see it get rewarded for doing everything right. Lincoln recognized the demand for crossovers, so it made more crossovers. Lincoln knew it needed to really bring it with a world-class flagship sedan -- and it did just that with the new Continental. Now it's finally giving shoppers the best reason they've ever had to buy a Navigator instead of an Escalade with the new, updated Navigator. Lincoln was down on its luck, and now it's doing well in sales and in public perception of being a competitive luxury brand.

That's why I think it's time for Lincoln to take another shot at a pickup truck. That's right, I said another shot. What, you don't remember Lincoln's not one, but two previous attempts at a pickup? Time for a quick history lesson.

The year is 2001. The Lincoln Navigator is enjoying success as being the first American full-size luxury SUV, and the brand thinks that if a big SUV is such a hit, then surely there will be an equal demand for a luxury pickup truck. Lincoln dressed the Ford F-150 to the nines and called it the 2002 Lincoln Blackwood. It was available only in rear-wheel drive with a SuperCrew cab and a black exterior and interior. The cargo bed of every Blackwood was carpeted and had a power tonneau cover, which really made it more of a big trunk than a bed.

The Blackwood was a flop, because Cadillac responded with the Avalanche-esque Escalade EXT which was cheaper, more utilitarian, more aggressively styled and available with 4-wheel drive. Adjusted for inflation, the MSRP of the Blackwood was more than $73,000. The Lincoln Blackwood holds the distinction of having the shortest production run of any Lincoln (15 months) and of being the first Lincoln built outside of Michigan since 1958, as it was made all the way down in Missouri.

Lincoln's second attempt at a pickup truck is one that you can still occasionally see in traffic. It was the Lincoln Mark LT, which was introduced for the 2005 model year and discontinued in 2008 in the U.S. and Canada -- though it saw a second generation in Mexico, where it survived until 2014. The Mark LT avoided many of the mistakes of the Blackwood by having a lower cost of entry, offering more options and by just being more usable as a pickup truck. However, the Lincoln Mark LT was a rather lazily rebadged Ford F-150 -- effectively Ford's pickup wearing its nice church clothes. It simply wasn't different enough from the F-150 to really stand out. Also, it's not a coincidence that it was discontinued in the States around the time of the 2008 financial crisis, when gas was over $4 per gallon and demand for luxury pickup trucks understandably tanked.

When the Lincoln Mark LT went away in the U.S., it didn't mean the dream of the luxury Ford pickup truck was dead. This was what kicked off the Ford F-150 Platinum; the new range-topping trim of the F-150 that would go on to see pretty big success. Since the death of the Mark LT, the luxury pickup truck market has exploded. Trucks keep getting fancier, and transaction prices keep getting higher. We've hit the point where you can spend six figures on a Ford Super Duty pickup truck.

So that means Ford knows the luxury pickup truck game better than anyone, right? Then why not give Lincoln a shot at a pickup? You might be thinking that if there were a Lincoln pickup, it would cannibalize sales of the fancy F-150s -- but if that were true, nobody would be buying the GMC Sierra Denali. That certainly isn't the case, because about half of all Sierra 1500 pickups sold are of the Denali variety, and Chevy is having no problem selling Silverados.

Just imagine a pickup truck wearing the gorgeous face of the new Lincoln Navigator. If the Navigator and the Expedition are different enough to co-exist, then a Lincoln pickup should be able to exist alongside the F-150. Lincoln, if you like money, it's time to take another shot at a luxury pickup truck. Cadillac has been out of the pickup game for a few years now, so the market share is yours for the taking.

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It's Time for Lincoln to Take Another Shot at a Pickup Truck - Autotrader