2002 Cadillac Escalade EXT and 2002 Lincoln Blackwood

PickupTruck.com Exclusive Comparison Test:
2002 Cadillac Escalade EXT versus
2002 Lincoln Blackwood (Part 1 of 2)

By: Michael Levine
Originally Posted: 08-31-01 22:00
Last Edited: 11-11-01 22:00
PickupTruck.com © 2001

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PickupTruck.com had the exclusive opportunity to drive and compare the 2002 Cadillac Escalade EXT and Lincoln Blackwood at the same time during the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and Monterey Historics in northern California. The Concours and Historics are perhaps the most renowned celebrations of style and engineering for vintage and luxury automobiles. Everything from rare, early 20th century Bugattis to the most modern of Ferraris is displayed or raced and we can't think of a better place to drive and compare an entirely new breed of automobile as distinctly American as the luxury pickup. The roots and heritage of both the Blackwood and EXT stretch as far back as most of the cars on display at Pebble Beach.

  In a way it's ironic putting these two trucks head to head because both indirectly sprang to life from the efforts of a single person, Henry Leland. Leland is widely considered the "creator of both of America's first quality cars," Cadillac and Lincoln. In 1902 Leland took over Cadillac's operations to build it up and later sell it as the premier luxury car brand to GM in 1908. Leland later started the Lincoln Motor Company in 1917 to make engines for World War I fighter planes and converted his engine factory to the production of "precision-made
Lincoln automobiles" after the war ended. Lincoln struggled as a company for the first several years and was eventually purchased by its current parent, Ford Motor Company, in 1922 where it still remains Ford's leading American luxury brand.

American luxury cars used to be the gold standard against which all other automobiles were measured, especially during the years immediately preceding World War II and post war years through the mid-1960s. Lincoln and Cadillac were seen as the leaders in design and engineering. Cars such as the Lincoln K-Series, Continental, Continental Cabriolet and the entire 1948 Cadillac lineup, which sported tailfins for the first time created by legendary GM design chief Harley Earl, set the styling trends for decades. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright considered the Lincoln Continental to be the most beautiful car in the world after it entered production in 1939.

The Blackwood and EXT among the country club set at the golf course.

Cadillac's technological innovations were second to none. It pioneered the world's first independent front suspension, automatic transmission, air conditioning and the short-stroke 'modern' V8 engine - standards that quickly found their way into other luxury and passenger cars.

The 1970s, 80s and 90s gave way to the slow decline and loss of market share of American luxury and passenger cars. Japanese and European brands rule this segment today emulating and bettering many of the innovations first found in Cadillacs and Lincolns.

The focus of American manufacturers has shifted away from cars to pickups and SUVs because that's where the best products, profits and sales continue to occur. So, as Cadillac and Lincoln struggle to maintain and justify their existence they have turned to trucks as a unique way of defining American luxury in today's competitive marketplace that the foreign manufacturers just can't touch - yet. The Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade perfected the luxury revolution in full-size SUVs and arguably they have been their parent companies' saving grace because they bring newer, wealthier and younger buyers to brands today known for catering to gerontological trends.

It should be seen as verification that the US economy peaked about two years back, when both the Lincoln Blackwood and Cadillac EXT received the greenlight for production, that these two luxury pickups are just now entering the marketplace as many people now find the word 'layoffs' part of their everyday vocabulary. The Blackwood and EXT are definitely not your average trucks and it's doubtful they would have found their way to production if they economy hadn't been so hot.

Boiled down to their core essence, the Blackwood and EXT are the American dream realized. New vehicles reinvented from old.

Pickup trucks are the very automotive symbol of the American work ethic but the Blackwood and EXT take this to a new level declaring to the world that their owners' labors have paid off and they have been amply rewarded. The Blackwood and EXT also state that their owner is not some old world aristocrat but an American entrepreneur who made their wealth the hard way. Each truck tells this American success story in its own unique way.

Lincoln and Cadillac expect to sell around 22,000 units total between the two fancy haulers, 10,000 Blackwoods and 12,000 EXTs. At these numbers they will account for less than 1% of annual pickup truck sales which number approximately 3,000,000 units per year. Priced around $50k each, truly they are the pinnacle of pickups.

The hills near the Monterey Peninsula provide the backdrop for this shot as well as many of the events of the Monterey Historics and Concours d' Elegance each year in Northern California.
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