Henry Payne Blog

Cartoon: Thanksgiving Turkeys and Covid

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 24, 2020

Cartoon: Media Blocks Mask Study

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 23, 2020

Cartoon: Two Election Media

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 23, 2020

Cartoon: Pelosi Whitmer Thanksgiving Bash

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 21, 2020

Cartoon: Hillary Guiliani Rigged

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 21, 2020

Cartoon: Thanksgiving Covid exception

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 20, 2020

Cartoon: California COVID Curfew

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 20, 2020

Cartoon: Whitmer Closes Restaurants

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 19, 2020

Payne: Ford F-150 Hybrid is one tough nerd

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 19, 2020

The 2021 Ford F-150 may not look much different than the outgoing model, but it is bristling with high-tech updates including a hybrid powertrain and on-board generator.

If the last generation Ford F-150 concentrated on brawn, then the 2021 F-series is about brains.

America’s best-selling pickup is back for its 14th generation, and it’s one clever cookie. Think fully digital displays, over-the-air-updates, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a stowable shifter and a hybrid powertrain that acts as an onboard generator that can operate an armful of tools.

Built Ford tough? Built Ford smart.

Five years ago, pickup buyers got a crash course in metallurgy as the 2015 F-series became the first truck to sheath itself in aluminum. Though based on the same rugged steel ladder frame familiar to full-size pickups, the F-150’s toned, aluminum bod allowed a weight savings of up to 700 pounds, making it more athletic and fuel efficient. The Ford weathered all sorts of taunts from its competition (remember Chevy’s aluminum bear cage ad?), but came away unscathed, posting big sales numbers as well as class-leading towing and payload.

Funny thing, though. The aluminum revolution didn’t follow. Other truck-makers ignored Ford’s tin lead. Now comes F-150 with the first hybrid drivetrain in class, and my bet is that it won’t be the last.

That’s because the benefits of going hybrid in trucks is — like super sports cars — about more than preening green.

Tell performance car buyers that a battery will make their car more sustainable, and you’ll get yawns. Tell them its torque will rocket it to 60 mph faster, and they’re all ears. Today, hybrid supercars abound — and wait until you get a load of the forthcoming, 1,000-horsepower hybrid-electric Corvette.

“It wasn’t enough that a hybrid F-150 got better fuel economy,” said engineer and F-150 program supervisor Mike Schneider. “We wanted to use it to really enhance a work truck’s capability.”

Option the 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid's 7.2 kW onboard generator and the truck is a rolling work space that can power multiple tools.

The onboard generator was born. Trucks are rolling toolboxes, and truck guys have been carrying around bulky gas generators in their beds for years. Schneider himself has a $2,300, 5 kW generator that takes two people to load into the truck bed.

Opt for the F-150’s “Powerboost” hybrid, twin-turbo V-6 engine option (a $3,300 premium over the 2.7-liter V-6) and a 2.4 kW generator is integrated into the truck (a 7.2 kW option is also available). My F-150 Lariat tester had the 7.2 kW option with five plugs bristling from the rear bed: four 110 volt outlets, one 240 volt.

The tailgate party options are enormous. Ford showed off a model at its Milford Proving Grounds that was running a 55-inch TV, Weber grille and meat smoker, which makes the truck a double threat at the football game and the worksite. Tailgate on Sunday, cut wood on Monday.

The 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid, if optioned with 7.2 kW on-board generator, comes with four 150-volt bed plugs and one 240.

Ford couples bed outlets with a nifty tailgate complete with built-in rulers and clamp holders so you can plug in your bandsaw while measuring wood cuts.

The hybrid powertrain is no slouch on the road, either. Combining low-end electric torque with the twin-turbo’s upper-RPM range capabilities, the engine pulls hard through the rev range. That 570 pound-feet of torque was especially noticeable when dragging a 13,000-pound mobile home around local roadways.

With electric-motor assist, the 10-speed tranny was noticeably smoother in the hybrid than a comparably burdened truck powered by the non-hybrid, twin-turbo V-6. In keeping with its Swiss Army knife capability, the F-150 comes with a dizzying array of engine options including the standard, 3.3-liter V-6, turbo 2.7-liter V-6, twin-turbo-V-6, hybrid, V-8, and diesel.

The 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid pairs the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 with an electric motor to make 570 pound feet of torque.

You could shop all day mixing and matching the F-150’s drivetrain options over the vehicle’s six trim options. I focused my time on a $68,000, hybrid-powered Lariat model which was a nice middle ground between Ford’s best-selling XLT trim and the luxurious Limited ocean liner.

Ford claims 90 percent of its sheet-metal is new for 2021, but the exterior betrays few major changes. The grille has a nice ovoid shape to it — shades of little brother Ranger — for a more pleasing face. Otherwise, the signature elements are all there — C-clamp headlights, scalloped A-pillar window for better visibility, F-150-stamped tailgate.

Rear bed access for the 2021 Ford F-150 includes an optional tailgate drop step.

My Sport 4X4 picked up a couple skid plates to keep from slapping its belly on off-road excursions. The truck was suitably rugged when I took it off-road — the frame rails absorbing punishment over challenging moguls that would have reduced a unibody SUV to a trembling bowl of jelly.

But even the off-road experience benefited from the new truck’s interior smarts.

I crawled up a steep embankment of the F-150, its 4×4 system churning happily along in the Mud/Ruts driving mode (one of eight modes). I couldn’t see what was on the other side. No problem. I pushed a button above the dash and an underbody camera showed me the way.

Such conveniences are all over this truck, and all of them operated from the truck’s big, 12-inch touchscreen (eight-inch is standard — but in the Age of Tesla, everything has a 12-inch option). Need a floodlight to illuminate the woods on a moonless night? It’s in the display. Need a bed light? In the display. Even the bed outlets can be monitored from the screen.

This dexterity extends to the console itself, where the turbo V-6 engines come with a stowable shift lever. Hide the lever with the push of button and the console turns into a flat desk surface.

With the shifter stowed in the console, the 2021 Ford F-150 options a "desktop" work surface.

My crew cab interior was enormous and enhanced with more storage — including a second glovebox and lockable, sub-rear seat storage. The latter is suitable for fishing rods and gear — but also for electronic devices that not only benefit from the truck’s Wi-Fi hot spot, but can be recharged by plugging into the second row’s outlet. These are amenities normally associated with your house, for goodness sake, so you can see why trucks are fast becoming a luxury option to rival big European sedans.

The truck’s brains help makes its size more manageable, too.

My F-150 featured advanced cruise control called CoPilot 360 Assist (a Cadillac Super Cruise-like Active Drive Assist is on the way next year), which offers capable driving assistance on interstates and in crowded traffic. Truck owners are busy folks, and the system allows them the ability to take phone calls or glance at text messages without having to pull over to the side of the road.

Trucks have always been the biggest, brawniest things on the road. Now a new generation of F-150s shows they are among the biggest nerds, too.

2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid

Vehicle type: Four-wheel drive, four-door, five-passenger pickup

Price: $42,840, including $1,695 destination charge ($68,090 as tested)

Powerplant: 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V-6 with electric motor

Power: 430 horsepower, 570 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph (NA); maximum towing, 12,000 pounds

Weight: 5,540 pounds (base, 4×2 hybrid)

Fuel economy: EPA mpg 24 city/24 highway/24 combined (16.6 mpg observed)

Report card

Highs: Hybrid innovates on-board generator; innovative cabin

Lows: Corner bed steps, please; gets pricey

Overall: 4 stars

2021 CARtoon Calendar for sale

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 16, 2020

Either click the Zazzle button at the right side of the screen or follow this link:

https://www.zazzle.com/cartoon_wall_calendar-158784440381002597

Cartoon: Whitmer and Thanksgiving

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 13, 2020

Cartoon: Biden Solutions

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 13, 2020

Cartoon: Trump Jeopardy Host

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 13, 2020

Payne: 2021 Cadillac Escalade goes back to the future

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 13, 2020

For you Dream Cruisers nostalgic for the huge 1950s Cadillac Eldorado Sevilles that once ruled the earth, check out the 2021 Cadillac Escalade.

Skyscraping rear tail lights. Massive chrome front grille. Twenty-two-inch silver wheels. Monster 6.2-liter V-8 under the hood. Acres of interior cowhide. It’s stunning. The King of Bling.

If the Queen of Soul were still around, she’d get hers in pink.

But this Escalade is more than a boulevard head-turner. In keeping with Cadillac’s founding mantra for innovation, this old-school land yacht is on the bleeding edge of new digital technology. With two wheels in the past and two wheels in the future, it is a bridge to Cadillac’s coming electric transformation. It’s a “Star Trek” command center built on a truck frame.

What else? The distinctive, chiseled profile of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade.

In the 21st century, Cadillac has struggled to do battle against German competitors as a performance brand despite a talented squadron of alphanumeric dogfighters like ATS, CTS and CT6. The proper-name Escalade, meanwhile, has carried the century-old Cadillac flag, using technology and style to pamper celebrity.

The Escalade posits the solution that Cadillac’s future lies in its past.

The 10-foot-long cutter aims to inspire a new generation of electric cruisers with proper names like Lyriq and Celestiq. Cruising through Ann Arbor, the Escalade had serious presence, turning heads with its headlights like a rolling Fox Theatre marquee.

Its face is leaner than before. Modeled after the stunning Escala concept, the chrome is more subtle. Its slit, horizontal headlights suggests an athletic celebrity that watches its calories.

But this blockbuster saves its best scenes for the interior. The dashboard will shame corporate boardrooms. Sitting atop acres of luscious brandy wood is a curved, 38-inch OLED screen — the largest in the industry. You could do IMAX movie premieres on this thing.

As the turn approaches, the arrow in the Augmented Reality screen grows bigger to indicate where to turn in the 2021 Cadillac Escalade.

The big screen serves as a preview of the Lyriq EV’s 33-inch screen. The screen of the Lyriq (due late 2022) will be one continuous window, whereas the Escalade is three screens in one. It’s a reminder that Caddy was an innovator in the luxury space with head-up displays (Escalade’s got that, too), but Cadillac hasn’t jumped the shark this time.

Where its first innovative CUE system drove owners screaming into the street with its button-less, haptic-touch interface, you can access the Cadillac’s deep infotainment offerings in multiple ways: touch-screen, BMW-like remote rotary dial and voice-control. I used elements of all three.

Google Maps still trumps any in-car navigation system, and the Cadillac generously offers Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto connectivity. But like Audi’s spectacular panoramic Google Earth map display in the instrument panel, the Caddy has a trick up its sleeve that Google Maps can’t offer …

I pointed the nav system to Zingerman’s Deli, its front door nestled in a confusing maze of one-way Ann Arbor streets. After exiting the freeway, I poked “Augmented Reality” on the screen’s far-left quadrant, and the 14.2-inch instrument display switched to video of the street ahead.

The driver's cockpit in the 2021 Cadillac Escalade.

An arrow pointed the way on the road, but another series of directional arrows grew in the video display as my turn approached. I found the precision useful in Ann Arbor’s confusing college-town streets, though I would recommend only using it in low-speed streets.

The video display is available at highway speed, too, but can be distracting. I was essentially looking through double windshields, so large is the instrument display. Better to stick to the traditional “Map” display on the highway.

And now for its next trick …

Cadillac will also option the latest Super Cruise technology for use on geo-fenced interstates and divided highways. With a steering-mounted laser focused on your face to make sure you don’t (ahem) leave the helm, SuperCruise is the best self-driving system on the market even as Tesla can do more tricks on two-lane roads where the Cadillac system refuses to go.

Whether Cadillac users will embrace such a sci-fi system in such a massive vehicle remains to be seen. Autonomous systems make Mrs. Payne veeeery nervous.

My test Escalade was not equipped with Super Cruise, and its standard adaptive cruise-control system was underwhelming compared to better systems from more affordable brands like Subaru and Mazda.

The palatial interior of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade includes a full moonroof. The sticker price can soar above $100,000.

It’s an oversight in Cadillac’s otherwise technological tour de force. Check out the Caddy’s self-park feature. Or seat-specific volume control. Fifteen camera views. Soft-close doors. Air suspension that’ll drop 4 inches to help you in the car. Teleport to Mars (kidding).

When it’s not giving you a peek at the future, the Escalade is refining the past.

Commuting across Metro Detroit’s high-speed freeways and cattle-car secondary roads, the Escalade is a magic carpet riding on available magnetic shocks and Escalade’s first-ever independent rear suspension. Like Astaire and Rogers, they are quite a team. Under car-guy Mark Reuss, GM’s been obsessed with athleticism and light-weighting, and even the Escalade benefits.

Where the CT4 and CT5 sedans will wow you on a twisty road, the Escalade will lull you into believing it sits on a unibody chassis, so sure-footed is this Hulk in a tuxedo. Only when I clattered across Huron River Road railroad tracks — the ladder frame shifting under me — was I reminded this Caddy still sits atop an old-school, Silverado pickup architecture.

The athletic obsession brings more creature comforts. Thanks to the independent rear suspension, third-row thrones have more well room so your 6-foot-5 reviewer could comfortably sit behind himself sitting behind himself. The third-row space is complemented by more second-row legroom, part of the Escalade’s comprehensive remake.

Well, except for that big boat anchor up front. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The small-block 6.2-liter V-8 has been a workhorse in everything from pickups to ’Vettes, and it does its usual yeoman’s work here. Its 460 pound-feet of torque (the same amount in an available turbo-diesel, if that flips your switch) is always ready to pull the sled — and more with my tester’s tow package.

In keeping with Escalade’s magic-carpet treatment, the V-8 is mated to a silky 10-speed transmission. That dynamic duo also does duty in the Chevy Tahoe, Suburban and GMC —impressive three-row yachts in their own right.

But the Escalade is the future of tech. They’ll remember it at the Dream Cruise in 2080.

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is based on the same truck frame as the Chevy Silverado — but its independent rear suspension and tech offer refinement worthy of a Mercedes.

2021 Cadillac Escalade

Vehicle type: Rear- or four-wheel drive, seven-passenger SUV

Price: $77,490, including $1,295 destination charge ($110,585 4WD Platinum as tested)

Powerplant: 6.2-liter V-8; 3.0-liter turbo inline-6 diesel

Power: 420 horsepower, 460 pound-feet of torque (V-8); 277 horsepower, 460 pound-feet of torque (diesel)

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, NA; towing capacity, 8,000 pounds as tested

Weight: 5,822 pounds (as tested)

Fuel economy: EPA 14 mpg city/18 highway/16 combined (V-8 with 4WD)

Report card

Highs: Oh, that screen; smooth ride

Lows: Super Cruise is super, but adaptive cruise-control is average

Overall: 4 stars

Cartoon: John James Election Protest

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 11, 2020

Cartoon: Democrats Fishy Election

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 11, 2020

Cartoon: Mars Water

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 11, 2020

Cartoon: Biden Unity Football Spike

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 9, 2020

Cartoon: Media Forecast

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 5, 2020

Cartoon: Twitter GOP Block

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 5, 2020