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The Lincoln Blackwood's dash and interior take luxury to levels never seen before in a pickup truck.

The interior of the Lincoln Blackwood is the height of sybaritic excess for a pickup truck. Like the exterior, the color black permeates the entire interior from the thick carpets to the leather seats to the instrument panel. It reminds you of being at a formal ball. Shoes and shirts are definitely required to ride in this vehicle.

It's not everyday that a pickup truck's owners manual informs the buyer about how often they should change the air filter in the seats but if you own a Blackwood we suppose nothing is out of the ordinary. To ensure that your wealthy derriere is always at the optimal temperature, the Blackwood's seats are both heated and air-conditioned. We tried both features during our time in Monterey and can report back that on cold mornings or in the hot afternoon your butt will never be too hot or too cold but just right. A single switch mounted on the seats quickly turns the heater or AC on and a dial controls the amount of warmth or coolness applied.

The Blackwood's four bucket seats are covered in thick Connolly leather that do a nice job of supporting the driver and passengers over long distances. Both front and rear occupants are separated from each other by large consoles. Mounted behind the driver's and front passenger's seats are nice storage pockets that can be sealed with a single button.

The dash area is straight from the F-series trucks but enhanced with oak trim. The roof mounted console is shared with the Expedition and Navigator.

Adjustable pedals allow the driver, especially shorter female owners, to get their seating position just right and the Blackwood remembers up to three drivers' seating preferences to keep it that way.

A console-integrated GPS navigation system is the only option available for Blackwood buyers. It places the navigation screen directly below the stereo and HVAC controls. Easy to view when you need it, unobtrusive when you don't but the controls for the GPS are not very intuitive. Almost all GPS features are operated with a knob that you depress to enter commands. During one particularly hairy traffic jam on Carmel Valley Ranch Road heading westbound, the Blackwood's GPS system saved us probably 20 minutes of travel time by showing us an alternate path to reach Highway 1.

The Blackwood's navigation console and seat back pockets emphasize the upscale touches.

Oak and leather trim on the Blackwood's steering wheel is complemented by a comprehensive and easy to use set of radio and HVAC controls.

Ultrasonic rear parking assistance is standard on the Blackwood. Using a series of beeps to indicate how close you are to obstacles behind you makes parallel parking and backing up maneuvers a snap but the Blackwood lacks the very helpful visual cues offered by the EXT's rear sensor system in addition to sound.

The Cadillac Escalade EXT's interior shares much in common with the rest of General Motor's GMT800 line of full size trucks. It's very luxurious but does not stretch as far as the Blackwood's in the number of amenities it offers.

Seating surfaces in the EXT are covered in a softer and suppler grain of leather than the Blackwood's hard leather saddles. While heated seats are an option, air conditioning is not. The EXT does offer 10-way seating controls versus Blackwood's 8-way. In the Blackwood the driver and front passenger have to manually adjust the front or back tilt of the seats.

The EXT is able to accommodate 5 adult passengers in the truck versus 4 in the Blackwood. The rear seat is a 60/40 split bench that folds down to reveal one of the stars of the EXT's show - the Midgate. The EXT's Midgate, like on the Chevy Avalanche, can be folded down to provide complete access to the bed of the EXT but more on this feature later.

The instrument panel and interior of the Cadillac Escalade EXT are the most upscale in the GM truck lineup.

While no screen-based GPS or navigation system is available for the EXT, Cadillac, along with much of the rest of GM's 2002 lineup, instead offers its phenomenal OnStar telematics-based solution standard in the truck. Using OnStar, driver's can reach a live person at the touch of a button to instantly get directions to the nearest ATM machine or gas station, or make reservations at their favorite restaurant. OnStar also offers hands free cell phone calling using slick voice recognition to dial a number or pull up your latest stock quotes. If you are involved in an accident and your airbags deploy, an OnStar operator will immediately call your vehicle to make sure you are not injured and can route help to your exact location using the vehicle's GPS locator antenna. It's like having a butler in the EXT with you at all times. OnStar service does require a monthly subscription fee.

The IP closely resembles other GM full size trucks but is a little fancier with the accents and HVAC controls. A Bose stereo with a 6 CD in-dash player is more powerful than the Blackwood's Alpine system and seems to have slightly better acoustics.

The wood and leather steering wheel in the EXT is a disappointment. Its stereo-only controls are set much too far back to be useful unless the driver's hands are positioned awkwardly on the wheel.

Though the interior of the 2002 EXT is not quite up to the Blackwood's level of refinement and luxury, the 2003 model year will bring a wealth of changes in terms of ergonomics and features. The EXT will receive an entirely new instrument panel much more befitting a Cadillac and sharing little with other GM trucks. Screen based GPS will become an option to complement OnStar and a new steering wheel with audio, HVAC and trip computer controls will be standard. We also expect to see air conditioned seats appear in the EXT. Our rear ends rest much more comfortably with this knowledge.

Soft leather seating surfaces and room for 5 passengers remind you of a luxury sedan on the inside.
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