2005 Lincoln Mark LT
Ready for Prime Time
Lincoln’s 2002 Blackwood couldn’t capitalize on the market it created. The new 2006 Mark LT is poised to deliver on the Blackwood’s promise.
As quickly as Lincoln’s Blackwood appeared on the market in 2002, the luxury tow vehicle disappeared just a year after its debut.
Lincoln largely invented the category that has come to be defined by its chief competitor, the Cadillac Escalade. For example, Lincoln beat its competitor to market with the Blackwood, the first four-door luxury pickup truck ever. Arriving to market first is often enough, and when you consider Ford Motor Co.’s reputation for building trucks, it’s difficult to understand why the Blackwood never caught on.
It was powered adequately with a 300-hp 5.4-liter V-8, which was rated to pull 8,700 pounds worth of trailer, and it offered so many standard luxury features that the only option was a $2,000 navigation system. Lincoln built 10,000 Blackwoods in 2002 and they were, by most accounts, a hard sell. By 2003, the nameplate disappeared from the company’s lineup while Cadillac’s Escalade showed respectable sales numbers.
Maybe it’s because the Escalade turned up in rap videos and lyrics. Maybe it’s because it had a rear bench seat rather than buckets. Or maybe it’s because you could actually get the Escalade’s cargo bed dirty—like a real truck. It’s difficult to say, but with the new 2006 Mark LT, Lincoln isn’t taking any of the same chances.
For example, Lincoln enlisted the help of former Los Angeles Laker, Earvin “Magic” Johnson to “showcase urban cool luxury events,” according to a news release. The company also had Orange County Choppers, of Discovery Channel’s “American Chopper” series build a sick bike to display at auto shows with the company’s latest luxury truck.
Lincoln also made sure the Mark LT was available in lots of colors, not just black. The company made an effort toward making the Mark LT more truck-like. The Mark LT comes with a real steel bed you can fill with yard mulch one weekend, then hose it out and take it to the mountains for a couples-only weekend.
And there would be room for everyone and their gear. Although the Mark LT’s bed is the shorter, five-and-half-footer, it featured a “bed extender,” a tubular aluminum frame that pivots out and to the rear, and allows owners an additional foot-and-a-half of cargo space.
Inside, the Mark LT also comes with a rear bench seat, as opposed to the Blackwood’s four-bucket, two-console setup, so that it will accommodate five people. The rear bench also folds up for additional storage.
We needed a lot of storage space for a trip out to Lake Havasu City, Ariz. We towed along a Formula 271 FAS3Tech, brought along about 20 boxes of magazines, two suitcases, an EZ Up tent, coolers, and boxes and loads of promotional items, such as T-shirts and coozie cupholders. It was packed.
The rear end dipped under the load, but the truck pulled every bit of it without protest. The temperature gauge nudged northward a bit on the steep grade up Interstate 15 toward Las Vegas, but other than that, nada.
Heading downhill, we would have liked more power at the brake pedal. Power was linear, but we always seemed to want more. Antilock mode, however, was awesome. During panic stops and gradual heavy application, the antilock function was as smooth as they come, and they halted the truck in short order.
Like the Blackwood, the new Mark LT comes with a 300-horsepower 5.4-liter V-8, which also makes 365 foot-pounds of torque at 3,750 rpm. The Mark LT now pulls more, too. It’s rated for 8,900 pounds on top of its 7,200-pound gross vehicle weight rating.
On the seven-hour drive out to Lake Havasu, we discovered that fuel economy isn’t all that great. We netted 9.7 mph with the boat in tow, which was unexpected given the truck’s conservative 3.73:1 axle ratio and its .70:1 overdriven fourth gear. It likely would have been better without so much gear on board, but it still left us a little light in the wallet after the weekend was over.
The long trip also signaled great attention to overall ergonomics, but also to how uncomfortable the front seats were, which is something we noted in the 2005 F-150 we reviewed. The seats offered too little in the way of thigh support, and virtually no lateral bolstering. Simply put, you sat on them, not in them. The funny thing is that it doesn’t have to be that way. For instance, the Lincoln Navigator we tested in the April issue had some of the best seats we’ve sampled in the last five years. Why won’t Lincoln put them in its Mark LT? It certainly deserves them.
Seats aside, we do have to praise Lincoln’s engineers for their work in the suspension department. The Mark LT’s ride is worthy of the Lincoln badge on the hood. In the rear, much of the credit for the ride must be attributed to the outboard rear shocks, which are mounted outside the frame rails, not inside, like competitors’ models from Dodge and General Motors. According to Lincoln literature, “The leverage provided by outboard shocks delivers a higher level of control, allowing a more compliant suspension tuning.”
Those shocks bolt to a fully boxed hydroformed ladder frame, which, according to Lincoln, offers “increased stiffness and stronger attachment points for the brackets that attach the body and suspension to the frame with minimal shake and shudder on rough roads.”
Inside, the Mark LT featured lots of quality materials. They felt good to the touch and seemed as though they would last long after the coupons in the payment book went away.
And that’s another thing the Mark LT has over the Blackwood: price. In 2002, the Blackwood started at more than $50,000. The Mark LT? Try a base price of $39,994.
For that kind of money, you get a truck that can compete in the marketplace that Lincoln virtually created. The Mark LT spans the gap between a truck you can use for the same kinds of tasks for which you’d buy an F-150 and one in which you’d feel comfortable arriving at a black-tie affair. From the looks of things, Lincoln’s new Mark LT is ready for prime time.
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
City 14 mpg
Highway 18 mpg
0-60 mph towing 25.3 seconds
40-60 mph towing 14.6 seconds
0-60 mph nontowing 10.8 seconds
40-60 mph nontowing 5.9 seconds
Engine 5.4-liter Triton V-8
Horsepower 300 at 5,000 rpm
Torque 365 pound-feet at 3,750 rpm
Compression ratio 9.8:1
Transmission four-speed automatic
Curb weight 5,677 pounds
Tow rating 8,900 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating 7,200 pounds
Gross combined weight rating 14,500 pounds
Axle ratio 3.73:1
Fuel Capacity 30 gallons
Tire size P275/65R18
Brakes four-wheel discs with antilock
Suspension Front: coil on shock double wishbone; Rear: live axle on multileaf springs with outboard shock absorbers.
Overall length 223.8”
Maximum width 78.9”
Base price $39,994
Price as tested $47,605
2002 Formula 271 FAS3Tech
Customer service 800-521-4140
Web site www.lincoln.com