“From a driver’s standpoint, American Luxury is about vehicles that have
the balance and composure to be engaging when the driver wants to be entertained,
but also are designed to be comfortable, quiet and unobtrusive for cruising. The
Lincoln Blackwood delivers on this promise thanks to a total ‘systems’ approach
to component selection and tuning.”
– Al Kammerer, Director, Lincoln Mercury Product Development
DRIVING DYNAMICS: The Lincoln Blackwood’s
nearly perfect front-to-rear weight balance, careful turning of the rear suspension
and short- and long-arm front suspension, acceleration-sensitive dampers, speed-sensitive
power steering and 18-inch wheels and tires combine to provide a comfortable,
controlled ride and confident, balanced handeling.
- The production Lincoln Blackwood remains true to the visual promise of
the concept that debuted in 1999. Blackwood’s gloss-black finish, signature
Lincoln grille and low-profile 18-inch tires contribute to the vehicle’s dramatic
- Nearly even weight distribution front-to-rear gives Blackwood exceptional
- Powerful, refined 300-horsepower engine offers a broad torque band
that begins low in the rev range – ideal for towing.
- Proprietary speed-sensitive power steering system enhances maneuverability
during parking and raises efforts at higher speeds to instill driver confidence.
- Short- and long-arm front suspension with steel coil springs and
acceleration-sensitive shock absorbers maintain Blackwood’s crisp steering
response and ride composure over a variety of road surfaces and speeds.
- A hybrid air spring and single parabolic leaf spring rear suspension
automatically adjusts for vehicle load to maintain Blackwood’s stance. Staggered
acceleration-sensitive rear shocks and anti-windup bars enhance rear axle
- 18-inch wheels and low profile, all-season tires developed specifically
for Blackwood provide crisp turn-in response and a smooth ride with little
- Component selection, tuning and isolation offer excellent control
of road, wind and powertrain noise, vibration and harshness.
The 300-horsepower Lincoln Blackwood offers performance never before found on
a vehicle with anything approaching the same combination of size, luxury and
functionality. The Blackwood uses a number of enhanced steering, suspension
and braking components and careful tuning to deliver a driving experience that
balances comfort and maneuverability with composure at-speed.
Chief Program Engineer Henry Brice said consumers consistently have three reactions
when introduced to the new Blackwood.
“They are attracted by the unique styling, impressed by the luxury amenities
and excited by the smooth ride and nimble handling,” Brice says.
“In Blackwood, we set out to create a feeling of confidence and composure,”
adds Dave Wotton, chassis supervisor. “While no single feature leaps out
of the spec sheet, all of the elements are engineered to work together to produce
a result that’s greater than the sum of its parts.”
ON-CENTER STEERING: The first few
degrees at the center of steering-wheel travel are key to establishing the driver’s
rapport with the vehicle. Blackwood provides a linear, precise steering feel
in this critical area.
The Lincoln Blackwood’s driving dynamics team paid particular attention to steering
tuning to offer precise feedback and a feeling of control. In fact, the recirculating
ball steering system of the Blackwood has virtually the same steering efforts
as the Lincoln LS luxury sport sedan, which has rack-and-pinion steering.
The starting point for the Blackwood’s steering was a sedan sport handling power
steering system. A 10-percent stiffer torsion arm was used in the steering box
to improve feel, in combination with refinement to the on-center detent and a
power steering pump electronically tailored to the stiffer steering gear. This
unique steering tuning – plus the application of low aspect ratio 18-inch Michelin
all-season radials – gives Blackwood its own character.
STEERING FEEDBACK: Blackwood’s power
steering system closely duplicates the steering “feel” of Lincoln LS.
Steering noise is reduced through an entirely new power steering valve that reduces
hydraulic turbulence – cavitation – caused by the steering gear. Blackwood’s power
steering gear valves are cut in a unique combination of patterns that dampen pressure
for a smoother, quieter flow of hydraulic fluid. This results in an approximately
10-decibel reduction in valve hiss, as measured under the hood.
Blackwood uses a power steering pump with an electronically controlled variable
orifice, which allows maximum steering assist at low speeds, such as in parking
maneuvers. At higher speeds, the system constricts the pump orifice to reduce
the amount of power assist and increase steering efforts.
The Blackwood’s P275/55R-18 Michelin all-season radials were developed in collaboration
with Lincoln and Michelin engineers, who benchmarked approximately 300 tires in
more than 30 separate testing sessions to identify the best balance of rolling
resistance, quietness, steering response, wet and dry traction and weight. The
result is a comfortable and quiet-riding tire with four-season traction and very
little sidewall flex, which reinforces the overall feeling of responsiveness.
SHOCK RESPONSE: The acceleration-sensitive
damping of Blackwood’s shock absorbers allows the response of two shocks in
one. The cutaway above shows the dual-damping circuits, where a secondary valve
opens in response to forces aboce 1.3g. The ASD shock allows more movement for
quick forces, such as potholes. At the same time, it controls relatively slow
movements, such as body roll.
The Lincoln Blackwood uses Acceleration Sensitive Damping (ASD) shock absorbers
at all four wheels to manage the widest possible range of road surfaces and
irregularities without unsettling the vehicle. It’s not unlike having two dampers
These ASD shocks incorporate an oil bypass valve that adjusts compression damping
based on how fast the shock moves – not how far. On impacts exceeding a force
of 1.3g, which can occur when hitting a pothole, the bypass valve opens immediately.
This allows the bulk of the force to be spent by compressing the suspension’s
springs. Less force is transmitted to the vehicle’s frame and passenger compartment.
ASD also enhances driver confidence by limiting body roll and pitch during steering
and braking maneuvers. During these generally slower rate transitions, the bypass
valve remains closed, and oil inside the shock is forced through a smaller opening
to provide more resistance to suspension movement.
The Lincoln Blackwood uses a combination leaf spring/air spring rear suspension
that eliminates sudden shifts or spikes in spring rates, which can make the
ride of vehicles with conventional leaf springs stiff or jarring, particularly
The Blackwood’s rear suspension design also has 10 percent less operating
friction than a standard leaf spring suspension, which improves ride comfort
by allowing the vehicle to respond more quickly to sudden, small pavement irregularities.
ANTI-WINDUP BARS: The rear axle is
controlled on each side by an anti-windup bar that extends from the frame. The
bars control axle position to prevent creep or hop on acceleration.
On the Blackwood, a single low-rate leaf spring is used at each rear wheel.
The spring is parabolic in shape if viewed from the side. That is, it is wider
in the middle and thinner at the front and rear mounting points. A parabolic
spring spreads loads more evenly across its surface compared with conventional
leaf springs. They also are more linear, meaning that they offer more resistance
in direct proportion to the load applied. In vehicles with bundled leaf springs,
there can be an abrupt “knee” or kink in spring rates as each new
leaf is called into service to manage increasing loads.
At rest, the Blackwood’s leaf springs carry the weight of the unloaded vehicle
with the air springs operating at their minimum pressure. The cylindrical air
springs, which are mounted atop each leaf spring, manage dynamic forces, as
well as the weight of any passengers or cargo. While this is not a fully active
suspension, a sensor mounted atop the axle monitors the vehicle’s attitude and
automatically adjusts pressure in the air springs to maintain a level ride,
regardless of load in the trunk or on the tow hitch.
If the system senses that additional ride height is needed, the suspension controller
signals a small, quiet compressor located in the engine compartment to the right
of the radiator, which adds air to the two air springs evenly. Pressure increases
are virtually seamless.
At the extremes of suspension travel, the air springs operate at full pressure,
which helps to reduce bottoming. To manage extreme suspension inputs, the Blackwood
uses micro-cellular urethane jounce bumpers to ease the axle to a stop more
smoothly than natural rubber jounce bumpers.
To enhance control of the rear axle, particularly during spirited acceleration
or when hitting sharp-edged bumps, engineers staggered the top mounting points
of the rear shocks. The top of the left shock is angled to the rear of the axle
and the top of the right shock is mounted toward the front to more effectively
manage longitudinal forces.
Two anti-windup bars provide additional resistance to axle windup or wheel hop.
The bars are mounted with relatively soft bushings, so they transmit less harshness
from road irregularities.
The Blackwood’s front suspension utilizes effectively the same short- and long-arm
design with steel-coil springs used on the 4×2 Lincoln Navigator. However, the
solid steel stabilizer bar is 31 millimeters thick – one millimeter thinner
than Navigator and the front-coil springs are 4 percent stiffer. These enhancements,
which improve ride quality and steering response by limiting side-to-side ride
motions, or head toss, are made possible by the Blackwood’s acceleration sensitive
dampers and near-50/50 weight balance.
BRAKE BALANCE: Ventilated 308 mm
front-disc brakes have two-piston calipers for enhanced stopping power. Blackwood’s
ABS combines with an improved Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) system
to provide confident and controlled braking. The EBD system enhances the effectiveness
of ABS by transferring brake force from the front to the rear, as conditions
The Lincoln Blackwood uses four-wheel disc brakes and a three-channel antilock
braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) to provide
confident and controlled braking under all circumstances. Stopping distance from
60 miles per hour is approximately 152 feet.
The three-channel antilock system limits braking skids by measuring the wheel
speed at each front wheel, and the rear wheels together, and modulating brake-line
pressure until traction is restored. EBD enhances the effectiveness of ABS by
transferring brake force from the front wheels to the rear, as conditions warrant.
Blackwood uses an improved version of EBD that allows brake balance to be optimized
for both loaded and unloaded conditions. The Blackwood’s system uses data measured
by the ABS sensors at both front wheels and the rear differential to compare wheel
speed every 5 milliseconds. If wheel lockup is detected, the EBD controller is
able to redirect brake force to restore traction. Previous generations used a
proportioning valve to balance front-to-rear brake force. This necessitated a
very conservative setting to prevent the rear brakes from locking the wheels on
a lightly laden vehicle traveling on a loose surface, such as gravel.
Blackwood’s front brakes use 308 millimeter ventilated rotors gripped by twin-piston
calipers and semi-metallic pads. The rear brakes uses 333 millimeter solid rotors
and single-piston calipers.
The Lincoln Blackwood provides spirited acceleration and exceptional towing capability
thanks to its proven 5.4-liter InTech V-8 engine and electronically controlled
four-speed automatic transmission, both of which are adapted from the Lincoln
The InTech V-8 uses a 90-degree iron block, aluminum cylinder heads with four
valves per cylinder, and has a 9.5:1 compression ratio. The Lincoln Blackwood,
like the Navigator, meets the California Air Resources Board and federal standards
as a Low Emissions Vehicle.
POWER: Blackwood’s 300-horsepower
InTech(tm) V-8 engine benefits from a tuned aluminum
intake manifold that provides air/fuel mixture in equal amounts to each cylinder.
The tuned manifold also helps to reduce induction.
The broad torque curve of the InTech V-8 contributes to Blackwood’s powerful throttle
response at almost any speed, and the vehicle’s stout 8,700-pound tow rating.
Peak torque of 355 foot-pounds is available at a relatively low 2,750 rpm. Fully
90 percent of peak torque is available from 1,750 rpm to about 4,700 rpm. The
engine’s power peak is 300 horsepower at 5,000 rpm. The engine is calibrated to
run on 91 octane (minimum) premium unleaded gasoline.
The engine features a “deep skirt” block design – in which the block
sides extend below the centerline of the crankshaft – for robustness and to reduce
engine noise and vibration. The dual-overhead camshafts are housed beneath a die-cast
aluminum cam cover that uses center hold-down isolator mounts to reduce noise,
vibration and harshness (NVH). The engine’s tuned aluminum intake runners, chain-driven
cams and die-cast aluminum timing chain cover also reduce NVH.
The engine’s aluminum main bearings are cross-bolted for strength. Connecting
rods are made of powdered metal and their mating surfaces are “cracked”
apart during the production process to ensure a perfect fit when they’re bolted
together around the rod bearings.
TOWING: Blackwood is rated to tow
up to 8,700 pounds with a weight-distributing Class III/IV hitch. A Class III
hitch and wiring harness are standard. It is ideal for towing boats, horse trailers
or other bumper-pull trailers.
The flat-topped pistons are made of a hypereutectic alloy, which expands 15
percent less than aluminum and resists heat transfer for better power and durability.
The piston skirts are coated with a Teflon-based friction-reducing material
and fitted with low-tension rings and full-floating wrist pins to enhance both
fuel economy and engine life.
In the event of a catastrophic coolant loss, the Blackwood remains driveable
for short distances because its electronic engine controller includes a fail-safe
mode that shuts off fuel to alternate banks of cylinders to reduce the risk
of engine damage from overheating. To improve all-around driveability and fuel
economy, the Blackwood’s four-speed automatic transmission adapts its shift
points depending on factors that include throttle position, engine vacuum, load
and engine speed. In normal driving, shifts occur in the low part of the rev
range for optimum fuel economy.
Under higher loads, a tow-haul feature automatically adjusts shift points higher
in the rev range to produce better acceleration and performance feel.
The drivetrain’s 3.73:1 final drive ratio contributes to the Blackwood’s strong
acceleration and robust performance feel, whether the vehicle is loaded or empty.
For engine braking on long downgrades or towing up steep hills, the transmission’s
2.64:1 overdrive ratio can be locked out with the push of a button at the end
of the shift lever.
Electronic and mechanical systems were carefully integrated during the development
process to optimize traction on dry, wet and slippery surfaces.
When available road traction varies from one side of the vehicle to the other,
Blackwood’s standard limited-slip differential can transfer enough torque side-to-side
to double the available traction.
On snow or other slippery surfaces, Blackwood’s engine management system reduces
power to reduce excessive wheel spin. However, the engine management traction
control system doesn’t automatically reduce power every time it detects wheel
slip. Engineers programmed Blackwood’s computer to allow wheel spin on loose
surfaces, such as gravel, where traction might be just an inch down from the
surface, if the tires are allowed to dig in.
“The computer measures how fast the vehicle is moving compared with the
amount of wheel spin,” said Chuck Bannon, Blackwood’s traction systems
technical specialist. “If you’re not accelerating, the system will feed
in enough wheelspin to get the vehicle moving.”
Controlling wheel spin with engine torque modulation, rather than through the
braking system, makes the system particularly smooth in operation. “All
the driver sees is the result – improved capability. It’s nearly seamless,”
If a driver doesn’t want the engine management system to operate, pressing a
lighted switch on the dashboard immediately disables the traction control. The
system automatically resets the next time the vehicle is started.
QUIET, COMFORTABLE RIDE: Microcellular
urethane body mounts are engineered to isolate the passenger compartment from
road and powertrain vibrations, contributing to a quieter, more comfortable
Noise, Vibration and Harshness
The Lincoln Blackwood team has created a passenger cabin with excellent insulation
from road, powertrain and wind-driven NVH. Specific steps to reduce unpleasant
- The exhaust system is held in place by silicone isolator mounts,
which reduce vehicle vibration and offer improved durability, compared with
- The large “valley” under the tuned aluminum intake runners
- The body mounts are micro-cellular urethane, which transmit fewer
vibrations than natural rubber mounts
- The front fender wells are lined with sound absorbing material
- Blackwood’s muffler is eight times larger than the engine swept
volume, to dramatically reduce exhaust sound
- The floor pan is reinforced with a fiberglass beta brace and mastic
sandwich that adds stiffness while filtering out vibrations
These and other actions combine to give Blackwood a speech intelligibility
rating of 92.69 – which means that a driver could expect to hear and understand
more than 92 percent of a rear-seat conversation – in the same league as the
Lexus LX 470, which scored 91.29 in internal testing.