Lincoln enters the small-but-growing sport utility truck segment for 2002 with the Blackwood, first seen in concept form at the 1999 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where it took the competition by surprise. Basically, designers transformed Lincolns Navigator sport utility vehicle into a luxurious crew-cab pickup. Chevrolet later announced the development of its Avalanche pickup/SUV hybrid, and Ford introduced the Explorer Sport Trac that combined the attributes of a pickup and SUV. Cadillac will also enter this area with its 2002 Escalade EXT, so the Lincoln Blackwood faces several competitors.
Although the Blackwood is a fully loaded luxury vehicle, Lincoln claims that it is nearly 50/50 in weight balance. Lincoln plans to sell fewer than 10,000 Blackwoods per year, with a sticker price of $52,500.
A signature Lincoln grille leads the Blackwood, which originated as a Navigator that had its chassis lowered by 3 inches. When creating the concept version, designers replaced the regular Navigator rear end with a pickup-style cargo box that had its sides finished in wood with aluminum accents. The production Blackwood follows the same principle.
The Blackwood is painted Gloss Black, hence, its name. A lockable, power-operated hard tonneau cover encloses the 4-by-8-foot cargo box, or trunk. Pushing buttons on the remote key fob raises and lowers the tonneau; this is said to be the first manufacturer-installed power tonneau cover. It is side-hinged, raises to a height of 6 feet 8 inches and nests into the Dutch rear doors, which are used instead of a conventional liftgate.
Lincolns star insignia decorates front-door cladding and the tonneaus latch cover. Stainless steel trim and LED accent lighting adorn the Blackwoods trunk interior. Unlike the Avalanche and Escalade EXT, which feature a movable midgate, the Blackwood has a fixed bulkhead. Styling touches include chrome on the door handles, mirrors and fuel-filler door. Fog lamps are standard. Low-profile, 18-inch Michelin tires are mounted on machined aluminum wheels, and a load-leveling hybrid air/leaf-spring rear suspension is installed. The Blackwood rides a sizable 138.5-inch wheelbase, measures 220.2 inches long overall and stands 73.6 inches tall.
Four bucket seats are mounted in a space that might otherwise hold six occupants, to give each one plenty of room. Seats are upholstered in black Connolly leather, and the interior is trimmed with dark-stained crystal oak wood. Power front seats have extended power lumbar support. Seats are climate-controlled, heated or cooled via their perforated-leather surfaces. The driver faces a wood-and-leather-trimmed steering wheel. A seven-speaker Alpine stereo system includes a six-CD changer. Cargo-box capacity is 26.5 cubic feet. The only luxury option is a CD-operated, voice-activated navigation system for an additional $1,995.
Under the Hood
Also used in the Navigator and full-size Ford trucks, the 5.4-liter V-8 engine produces 300 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 355 pounds-feet of torque at 2,750 rpm. The Blackwood comes with a four-speed-automatic transmission and either rear-drive or four-wheel drive. The vehicle can tow a maximum of 8,700 pounds.
Seat-mounted side-impact airbags are installed in the front, and rear seats have child-seat tether capability. Antilock brakes incorporate electronic brake-force distribution, and a Reverse Sensing System warns of obstacles to the rear while the vehicle is backing up.