Not too long ago, a pickup truck from a luxury brand like Cadillac or Lincoln was inconceivable. But that was then and this is now. And in a rapidly changing market for versatile, personal use vehicles, one that’s seen big sport-utility vehicles masquerading as luxury cars, and luxury cars adding SUV-like all-wheel drive, well, anything is possible. And this Lincoln Blackwood pickup truck is proof positive of that! But the question is, do Americans really need, or should they want, a gilded pick-em-up truck?
To the pickup traditionalist, one where the ability to work hard and play hard go hand in hand, a vehicle like the 2002 Lincoln Blackwood is nothing short of sacrilege. But to the increasing population of upscale suburban buyers, the Blackwood’s intended blend of fine sedan luxury and big truck versatility should be very appealing.
Clearly, the Blackwood, doesn’t fit the traditional pickup definition. Indeed as part Lincoln Navigator sport-ute, part and Ford SuperCrew, the Blackwood sits on a fine-riding 138.5-inch wheelbase, with a 220.2-inch overall length. That’s 19.5-inches more wheelbase, and 15.4-inches longer than the Navigator. But the Navigator is almost 2-inches wider.
The Blackwood’s styling, like its chassis, is an amalgamation of Navigator and Ford SuperCrew crewcab. With plenty of glitzy Lincoln touches, like the prominent chrome trimmed grille, integrated turn signals in the side mirrors, Chris Craft style faux wood applique on the exterior bed panels, polished aluminum fuel filler door and giant 18-inch alloy wheels wearing wide 275/55 Michelin tires.
Though the trickest piece of all, is this solid, power-operated, but non- removable, tonneau cover. It covers a carpeted and stainless steel lined 56.3 inch long cargo space that’s accessed not by a tailgate but by dutch doors. No dirt bikes or lawn tractors in here please, though with 26.5 cubic feet, four Fabrizio Paini golf bags will fit easily. To make the point, Lincoln refers to this as a “cargo trunk”. And you’ll be able to see your posh luggage at night, thanks to LED light strips along the floor.
Four very full-size owners of that luggage will fit easily in a Navigator - sized cabin with more features than Lincoln’s ritziest sedan. The 6-way power adjustable bucket seats are trimmed in black Connely leather. And up front feature a standard climate control system which circulates hot or cold air through the seat’s perforated cushions. And along with power-adjustable pedals, let even compact drivers fit in this full-size truck.
There’s also plenty of dark oak wood trim. And an available satellite-based navigation system, the Blackwood’s only option, that uses data CDS to provide street-level detail. The stereo is a 7-speaker Alpine system that includes both a cassette deck and 6-disc CD changer. While climate controls are fully automatic, of course. Audio, ventilation and cruise control are also adjusted by a set of satellite switches on the steering wheel.
The rear cabin is equally plush, and offers room for adults to stretch out. Rear seat passenger get their own set of stereo and ventilation controls. As well as a center console that, while it looks like a familiar bathroom appliance, offers plenty of storage space.
Hauling all this luxury to the country club, is Navigator’s 5.4-liter, twin- cam, 32-valve V8, that pumps out 300 horsepower and 355 pound-feet of torque. Gearing is 4-speed automatic, with no four-wheel drive option. But, with a standard limited slip differential, towing capability is substantial at 8700 pounds.
No wonder the Blackwood almost romps to 60 in 9.2 seconds, and through the 1/4 mile in 17 seconds at 83 miles-per-hour. Like its sedan stablmates, the Blackwood accelerates in a smooth, refined American-luxury car fashion. Not like a truck at all. You do however, feel its weight and size in the corners. But it’s still remarkably sure-footed, for a 5,700 pound machine with 7.9-inches of ground clearance. It feels solid, and predictable. Though its soft suspension does produce a substantial amount of body roll.
And plenty of nose dive under heavy braking. Stops from 60 average a longish 140 feet. The soft pedal offers little feel, and the Blackwood’s tail does get a bit loose when you’re hard on the ABS- equipped 4-wheel discs. But the ride is hard to beat, thanks to the short-and-long-arm suspension in front, and the combination of leaf and air springs in the rear. Plus micro-cellular urethane body mounts to reduce noise and vibration.
It’s the kind of smooth luxo-ride that you expect from a Lincoln, you just don’t expect it in a truck. But once you experience, you’ll be willing to cross all of America in it. If you can afford the gas! EPA fuel economy estimates are 17 city/12 highway. We got a mere 14 miles-to- gallon in mixed driving.
Of course, if you can afford the Blackwood’s $52,500 base price that’s probably not a concern. Add on the only option, the navigation system, and our test vehicle prices out at $54,236. There are also 50 Neiman-Marcus limited edition Blackwoods tagged at $58,000. But, they’re already spoken for.
So whether Americans need or should even want a gilded pick-em-up truck like the 2002 Lincoln Blackwood, or the forthcoming Cadillac Escalade EXT, they’re here. Lincoln expects to sell 10,000 Blackwoods this year, and we predict they’ll do it almost as fast as you can play 18 holes.
Engine: 5.4-Liter, Twin-cam, 32-valve V8
Torque: 355 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 9.2 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 17 Seconds @ 83 MPH
60-0 MPH: 140 Feet
EPA Mileage: 12 MPG City 17 MPG Highway