The power recirculating-ball steering has great on-center feel (we'd personally argue for a bit more boost at higher speeds), and the ride is quite good thanks to the short- and long-arm front suspension and the clever rear leaf/air-spring setup. The air springs serve as supplements to a single, smooth-ride leaf on each end of the rear axle. When loaded, a ride-height sensor activates a compressor to fill the bladders enough to level a 1200-lb payload. Now, you could blindfold us and there'd still be no mistaking the little cabin shudders of a body-on-frame vehicle. In its defense, though, these quakes are obvious only when hitting potholes or patched expansion joints at higher speeds. That's particularly impressive since the suspension is dealing with the high unsprung weight of the 18x8.0-in. alloy wheels and large Michelin Cross Terrain tires. And finally, the four-wheel discs and standard anti-lock system do a fine job of providing stable stops, with a best 60-0 effort of 144 ft. We'd say the chassis tuning is one this premium truck's best aspects.

Speaking of tuning, there isn't any when it comes to the option sheet. Your paint scheme is going to be black, so no Greenwood, or Redwood. And the cab comes only one way--loaded for four sybaritic occupants. The only option is a $2000 navigation system. The standard heated and cooled buckets are covered with perforated black leather, and the front and rear console storage areas are huge.

It's easy to get comfortable behind the truck's polished wood and leather-wrapped wheel thanks to power-adjustable pedals and a standard tilt-column mechanism. Besides the Blackwood's frontline safety defense of high overall mass, dual front and side-impact airbags and height-adjustable shoulder harnesses are installed for additional protection. Even with the fairly heavy window tint, engineers wanted to ensure protection from excessive heat, so they fitted the Navigator's extra-powerful Arabian Desert-spec air-conditioning unit.

The Blackwood's special cargo bed also adds enormously to this truck's cool factor. First, its exterior is covered with fake but convincing wood panels. (Ford claims the real stuff would have required too much maintenance). Second, it features a power-operated bed cover that can be activated by the key fob or ceiling-console switches--ought to be the center of attention at your next barbeque. Third, instead of a tailgate, it features split Dutch doors for low-effort loading. Finally, the interior of the 4-ft-8-in. box has stainless-steel walls, LED accent lighting, and a carpeted floor. Effectively, this box is 26.5 cu ft of clean, well-lit trunk space.

At present, this is the slickest premium pickup you can buy. But soon, it'll be hit head on in the marketplace by the Cadillac Escalade EXT, which is very similar in terms of content and makeup, though will also be offered in all-wheel drive. There are even rumors that Audi, BMW, and Mercedes might be getting into the premium pickup game. Matching high-profit margins and prestige could make for some interesting (short) bedfellows.