never confuse the Lincoln Blackwood or Cadillac Escalade EXT for sports
cars. What you will find, though, is that these trucks are quite deceptive
about what is happening just beneath the skin. They are uncannily good
in the suspension, powertrain and handling departments.
suspension is a noticeable and technical improvement over the F-Series
SuperCrew's. Both trucks share the same independent short-and-long A-arm
front suspensions but the Blackwood adds staggered acceleration-sensing
shocks plus a hybrid combination of monoleaf parabolic and air springs
in the rear.
rear suspension's pressurized air springs instantly adapt to additional
passengers or cargo, providing automatic load leveling, while the monoleaf
rear springs reduce the harsher spring rates found in the SuperCrew's
conventional leaf spring designs. Anti-windup bars further dampen any
spring windup when the cargo box is unloaded creating a very sticky truck
with good rear axle control.
Blackwood's suspension system.
also done some work with the Blackwood to give its owners better control
while driving in all types of road conditions.
vehicles handle traction control through brake modulation, the Blackwood
accomplishes it almost entirely with throttle management.
traction control system provides either more power through its limited
slip rear differential, to transfer additional torque from side-to-side,
or its engine automatically reduces power ouput when it senses excessive
wheel slip until traction has been restored. How fast the vehicle is moving
relative to wheel slip determines the amount of power sent to the wheels.
have programmed the engine management system to not reduce power in some
situations such as when driving in loose gravel.
The EXT certainly
one-ups the Lincoln Blackwood with the most advanced suspension and handling
system we have ever driven in a pickup. It's composed of three parts,
Cadillac's Road Sensing Suspension, StabiliTrak and All Wheel Drive.
Blackwood's suspension's shocks are primarily circuit driven pneumatics
reacting to road force, the EXT's superior Road Sensing Suspension (RSS)
is centered around four electronically controlled shock absorbers. These
'smart' shocks constantly measure body roll, vehicle pitch, wheel motion
and position and calculate the optimal shock demand for each wheel to
optimize vehicle handling and ride performance. RSS really shines in aggressive
driving situations, such as emergency lane changes, by reducing or overriding
the normal driving forces involved. The result, the outside shocks are
stiffened to reduce body roll and enhance handling in the scenario above.
Cadillac front suspension and interior cutaway showing the AWD transfer
case and StabiliTrak electronics (far right).
combines throttle management and brake control to improve vehicle stability
in all sorts of driving conditions. StabiliTrak measure many of the same
variables as RSS and when it senses one or more of the wheels slipping,
during braking or acceleration, it automatically adjusts brake pressure,
engine torque or throttle control to restore optimal control.
controlled, viscously coupled all wheel drive completes the Cadillac's
suspension and handling trinity and truly proves its worth in gold. Driver's
never have to think about its safety benefits because it's always there
to provide the most traction on the road where its needed and when its
needed. The AWD system is the same as the one we reviewed on GMC's