Henry Payne Blog

Cartoon: Trump Biden Campaign

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 27, 2020

Cartoon: Barrett Sworn in to Supreme Court

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 27, 2020

Cartoon: Media, Barrett, Catholic

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 25, 2020

Cartoon: Energy Trump versus Biden

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 25, 2020

Cartoon: Trump Biden 47 more Years

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 24, 2020

Cartoon: Last Debate Trump Biden

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 24, 2020

Cartoon: Biden Son’s sales

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 22, 2020

Cartoon: Toobin Mask

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 22, 2020

Cartoon: Militia PR Riots

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 22, 2020

Cartoon: SNL Trump Covid

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 22, 2020

Payne: Hummer EV vs. growing field of competitors

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 22, 2020

In the middle of World Series Game 1 on Tuesday night — in between beer, smartphone and camping equipment ads — viewers were treated to a 2-minute commercial about … an $112,595 electric Hummer pickup.

There might have been some head scratching.

Brands that sell $100k vehicles — Porsche, Land Rover, Maserati — usually don’t take out TV ads. Customers with that kind of disposable income call their car broker to buy their cars for them. The rare exception is the $100k, 2021 Cadillac Escalade, but that debuted at the Oscars where Hollywood swells drive up in limos. Polarizing basketball activist Lebron James introduced the ad promising the Hummer “would change the world,” though revolutionary autos usually have more modest price tags like the Model T or the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

But if not a revolution, General Motors Co.’s Hummer indicates something wild is happening in the luxury pickup market. GMC Hummer is one of a handful of expensive electric pickups coming to market in the next two years.

Seeking to capitalize on trendy luxury consumers who value sustainability, these trucks offer no-compromise power and technology while delivering guilt-free, zero emissions. While the Tesla Model 3 sedan popularized lux EVs, battery architecture uniquely favors pickups by offering yuuuge power, handling and storage capabilities.

“As the first of GM’s next-gen EVs, the Hummer EV will fundamentally alter conventional off-road and truck paradigms,” says GM electric guru Ken Morris.

Here’s how it stacks up against the other electron-guzzling pickups currently available to order:

GMC Hummer EV

Due in: late 2021 as a 2022 model

Deposit: $100, https://tinyurl.com/yyyxg7c3

Service: GMC dealers

Price: $112,595 ($79,995 base model in 2024)

Horsepower: 1,000

0-60 mph: 3.0 seconds

Towing: NA

Battery size: 200 kWh est.

Range: 350-plus

The iconic Hummer comes at the segment by throwing everything into its bed and the kitchen sink. It brings open-air, off-road capability like Jeeps; Super Cruise self-driving like Cadillac; the instant acceleration and high-tech of Tesla; and the latest tailgate tricks from GMC itself.

GMC Hummer EV

Unlike the original, diesel-powered, Humvee-based H1, the Hummer EV is as capable on-road as it is off. Its whisper-quiet electric drive-train floats on an air suspension while offering eyeball-flattening, 3.0-second, 0-60 acceleration. Off-road, its 35-inch knobby tires can go anywhere and then some — its new Crab Walk mode allowing the truck to navigate tight terrain diagonally.

Without an engine up front, passengers can store the Hummer’s roof in the “frunk” (front trunk) in order to have an unobstructed view of the heavens. Range is a healthy 350 miles though that will vary greatly depending on weather and the number of 0-60 launches you do. The truck is fast-charge capable on Electrify America’s emerging national network.

Tesla Cybertruck

Due in: late 2021 as a 2022 model

Deposit: $100, https://www.tesla.com/cybertruck/design#battery

Service: Tesla stores

Price: $69,900

Horsepower: 600

0-60 mph: 2.9 seconds

Towing: 14,000 pounds

Battery size: NA

Range: 500-plus

If the Hummer is a riff on an iconic shape, the Tesla Cybertruck is the most radical design in segment, its stainless steel body looking like something out of a sci-fi movie. The Cybertruck is considerably cheaper than the Hummer with a base price of $39,900 for its single motor truck. The top-line tri-motor — first available and comparable to the Edition 1 Hummer now on sale — starts at $69,900.

Tesla will build its Cybertruck in a new plant near Austin, Texas.

Tesla has only shown a prototype concept truck thus far, but the interior looks to be typically Tesla spartan. Controls are accessed through a single console screen — like the Model 3 sedan.

Tesla is promising delivery through its own dealers in late 2021, but the Silicon Valley automaker has been notoriously erratic in meeting delivery schedules — one of the advantages of a legacy automaker like Hummer and its independent dealer network. On the other hand, Tesla has a big leg up on its competition with the best, fast-charging network in the country.

Rivian R1T

Due in: early 2021

Depost: $1,000, https://rivian.com/preorder/r1t

Service: Rivian stores

Price: $80,000 est.

Horsepower: 750

0-60 mph: 3.0 seconds

Towing: 11,000 pounds

Battery size: 105-180 kWh

Range: 400-plus

Before Hummer, before Cybertruck, Plymouth-based Rivian really opened eyes to the capabilities of an electric pickup. With four electric motors on board it promises a sprint to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds.

With its batteries stored in the basement, the R1T maximizes storage space with a massive frunk and pass through space behind the rear seats for another 12 cubic feet of storage. The Rivian is smaller than the competitive set — sized somewhere between a midsize and full-size pickup meant to appeal to urban customers. Its interior is uncluttered with two tablet screens for controls.

The  Rivian R1T at Rivian headquarters in Plymouth in November 2018.

Like Hummer, the Rivian can perform a handling trick of its own. With its quad motors spinning left and right-side wheels simultaneously in opposite directions, the R1T can rotate in place. Rivian calls the feature “Tank Turn.”

Bollinger B2

Due in: late 2021 as a 2022 model

Deposit: $1000, https://bollingermotors.com/reserve/

Service: Independent dealers

Price: $125,000

Horsepower: 614

0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds

Towing: 7,500 pounds

Battery size: 142 kWh

Range: 200

Bollinger offers simple design and maximum storage. Designed for heavy lifting on founder Robert Bollinger’s New York farm, the B2’s pass-through interior can handle cargo up to 16-feet long stretching from front-to-rear bumper. With 15 inches of ground clearance, the truck can be raised or lowered another 5 inches.

The Bollinger B2 electric truck .

Optimized as a work truck, the B2 has 8 electrical outlets for power tools. You can attach a plow to it.

Lordstown Endurance

Due in: late 2020 as 2021 model

Deposit: $100, https://lordstownmotors.com/25432293427/checkouts/ec7424381b59819074b0fe5a51979e77

Service: TBD

Price: $52,500

Horsepower: 600

0-60 mph: NA

Towing: 7,500 pounds

Battery size: 180 kWh

Range: 250-plus

Of the five trucks, the least is known about the Endurance to be built in GM’s old Lordstown Assembly site. But it is unique in that it features four hub-mounted electric motors for better vehicle control. Lordstown sales are focused on commercial fleets, so it appears determined to deliver an affordable truck — as opposed to competitors that are all starting production with high-end, $100,000-plus vehicles. That means it likely will have fewer gee-whiz features.

Cartoon: Coney Barrett Dictionary

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 15, 2020

Cartoon: Facebook Censor

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 15, 2020

Payne review: Re-imagined Chevy Trailblazer takes on class-king Mazda CX-30

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 15, 2020

The Chevrolet Blazer has been roasted in … well, a blaze of criticism for not being like the new Ford Bronco. Unlike the wildly anticipated Ford, the mid-size Chevy isn’t sparking passion because it has forsaken its roots as a rugged truck-based SUV.

Its sibling  — the subcompact 2021 Chevy Trailblazer — is feeling the heat, too. The original 1999 Trailblazer was a premium trim of the Blazer. “We want our old ladder-frame, rugged Trailblazer back,” cries the internet peanut gallery.

“Chevy just ruined the Trailblazer name, too,” huffs Top Speed.

“The 2021 Chevy Trailblazer is a total letdown,” stomps Motor Biscuit.

“The Trailblazer nameplate has been used on a unibody crossover instead of a body-on-frame off-roader as it was in its previous iteration,” moans CarBuzz.

The 2021 Chevy Trailblazer fills the increasingly popular subcompact SUV hatch segment.

I get it. The new Trailblazer is different. Peter Gabriel left Genesis to go solo and who the heck is this Phil Collins guy? Kirstie Alley followed Shelley Long and now “Cheers” is ruined! Drew Carey replaced Bob Barker?

To be honest, I know as much about those cultural earthquakes as I do the old Trailblazer. Which is to say, very little. I never drove one.

So instead of comparing “Trailblazer: The Sequel” to the original, I’m going to compare it to its current competitive set. Namely the Mazda CX-30, the best subcompact crossover I’ve driven.

Because that’s what the Chevy Trailblazer is now: A smaller SUV squeezed between the entry-level Trax and the compact Equinox. With its stylish design and high-tech interior, it’s supposed to whet your thirst for the Blazer, should you covet a $40,000 mid-size ute.

The Trailblazer makes a very compelling case for itself. Indeed, along with the CX-30, my fellow jurors voted the Trailblazer a semifinalist for 2021 North American Utility of the Year.

Consider the high-volume LT trim I’ve been flogging. At $28,180, the all-wheel drive Trailblazer comes nicely equipped, just like the comparable, all-wheel drive $29,195 Mazda CX-30 Premium trim. That’s not something I’m used to.

Starting with the Chevy Traverse I tested back in 2017, the current generation of Chevy sport utilities has been stingy with standard safety features. Features like adaptive cruise-control aren’t standard on a Traverse until you reach the $55,590 High Country trim. Japanese manufacturers like Mazda, Subaru and Honda, on the other hand, have loaded their cars with standard cruise-control, automatic headlights, blind-spot assist and more.

So essential have these features become that Mrs. Payne won’t consider a vehicle unless it has adaptive cruise and all-wheel drive for under $30,000.

Trailblazer has learned the lesson.

While not offering adaptive cruise or blind-spot assist standard (both come standard on the Mazda Preferred trim, and all Japanese/Korean competitors offer at least one of the two standard), the LT offers these important features for just $620 and $345 respectively. That’s an affordable complement to standard goodies like lane-keep assist, automatic emergency-braking, automatic high-beams, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity and 4G Wi-Fi. Cruising along busy eight-lane I-96, these features quickly become essential to navigate traffic.

The hatchback 2020 Mazda CX-30 is a more utilitarian version of the brand's sexy Mazda 3 sedan.

Chevy executes handsome interiors with technology shared across model lines as diverse as Cadillac and Corvette.

While I’m drawn to the Mazda’s premium interior with its high infotainment screen and remote rotary-controller, the Chevy’s touchscreen is much more intuitive. Menus are easier to navigate; radio stations easier to store. The attention to detail in both cars belies their subcompact status.

On the outside, I’ve never been a fan of Chevy’s too-busy split-grille fascias. But the Trailblazer (along with big brother Blazer) is one of the brand’s more coherent creations. Maybe because Trailblazer is starting to look a lot like Hyundais, which have developed along similar lines with their mid-fascia headlights (upper “eyebrow” lights are running lights). Check out the new Hyundai Venue. Separated at birth.

Upper trims of the Trailblazer get nifty touches like a white Mini Cooper-esque roof (so does Hyundai). But my LT and its sporty, 17-inch wheels looked great.

That said, the Mazda CX-30 is still prom queen with its long nose, swept headlights and elegant lines. Even the overwrought fender cladding (SUV virtue-signaling) didn’t spoil my white tester with its gray 18-inch wheels.

The drver-focused cockpit of the nimble,

Mazda has also been cream of class in handling; I flogged it with the confidence only a BMW X1 can rival. But GM engineers have developed a disciplined cross-brand culture of tight, lightweight chassis from the best-in-luxe Cadillac CT4 to the lightweight Chevy Silverado to the nimble Equinox.

Trailblazer is no different, and it proved fun to drive as I lake-hopped across Oakland County from Loon to Wolverine to Orchard Lake.

The Chevy’s 155-horse 1.3-liter turbo-3 banger (exclusive with all-wheel drive) can’t rival the Mazda’s 186-horse mill, but the 174 pound-feet of torque (versus CX-30’s 186) is the real value here and pulls like a mule at low revs where you want it. Both engines are attached to buttery transmissions – 6-speed Mazda, 9-speed Chevy.

Loading more bling to go with its zing, my $29,195 CX-30 had a panoramic roof and leatherette seats that the Trailblazer can only dream of. Plus, the Mazda has the best 360-degree safety system (so you can monitor other cars around you) this side of Tesla.

Like all new cars, the 2021 Chevy Trailblazer has a backup camera - though the Trailblazer's resolution pales compared to other vehicles.

Trailblazer counters with impressive creature-comforts. After all, SUVs are bought for utility first, driving dynamics second. Trailblazer shares with siblings Trax and Buick Encore one of my favorite interior tricks – the fold-flat front seat. This ingenious tool (when combined with flattened middle-row seats) not only allows the wee Trailblazer to carry long toboggans or surfboards from hatch to glovebox — it’s also is an instant ottoman should you require the rear seat to get work done on a trip.

With three more inches of rear legroom — and 10 more cubic feet of rear cargo — the Chevy is much more accommodating of your friends when you ask them along for some trailblazing.

Speaking of trailblazing, it’s also worth noting how difficult the Trailblazer makes its for the brand’s electric ambitions: For a significant $10,000-plus less, the Trailblazer has 137 more miles of range than an equivalent $39,790 Chevy Bolt EV (396 vs. 259), more cargo room and all-wheel drive for Michigan’s’ long winters.

Nostalgia for old autos is natural. But when compared to the best the current market has to offer in subcompact SUVs and EVs, Trailblazer is a worthy sequel.

The 2021 Chevy Trailblazer is a long way from the original, rugged, 1999 Blazer. The new, cute ute is a subcompact offerings with smooth on-road dynamics.

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

Vehicle type: Front- or all-wheel drive five-passenger subcompact SUV

Price: $19,995, including $995 destination charge ($28,185 AWD LT as tested)

Powerplant: 1.2-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder; 1.3-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder

Power: 137 horsepower, 162 pound-feet of torque (1.2-liter); 155 horsepower, 174 pound-feet of torque (1.3-liter)

Transmission: Continuously variable transmission; 9-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 9.4 seconds (Car and Driver); towing capacity, 1,000 pounds

Weight: 3,252 pounds (as tested)

Fuel economy: EPA 26 mpg city/30 highway/28 combined (as tested)

Report card

Highs: AWD option; good interior room

Lows: Good value, but still lacks standard options offered in competitors

Overall: 4 stars

2020 Mazda CX-30

2020 Mazda CX-30

Vehicle type: Front- and all-wheel drive, 5-passenger subcompact SUV

Price: $23,000 including $1,100 destination charge ($29,195 AWD Premium as tested)

Powerplant: 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder

Power: 186 horsepower, 186 pound-feet torque

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 7.2 seconds (Car and Driver est.); towing capacity, 1,500 pounds

Weight: 3,388 pounds (as tested)

Fuel economy: EPA est. 24 city/31 highway/26 combined (as tested)

Report card

Highs: Sharp handling; premium looks

Lows: Heavy black cladding; tight rear legroom

Overall: 4 stars

Cartoon: Biden Militia Idea

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 15, 2020

Payne: Room or vroom? Entry-level Mercedes GLB crossover vs. CLA sedan

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 12, 2020

The Mercedes GLB and CLA may sound like they come from the same family. But they are as different as Hansel and Gretel.

The GLB crossover and CLA sedan occupy the same entry-level compact segment. Both offer front- or all-wheel drive. Both feature the same state-of-the-art self-driving system. Yet Mercedes-Benz sees SUV and sedan buyers as entirely different people.

So it has given the entry-level vehicles two entirely different personalities.

Like siblings that take after mom or dad, the GLB gets its DNA from Papa G-wagon — Mercedes’ top-of-the-line SUV patriarch. The comely CLA learned its lessons from the top-dog S-class coupe.

The 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 wears the brand badge proudly.

GLB is square and chunky like the off-roady G-wagon, its giant greenhouse giving excellent 360-degree visibility and comfortable rear seating for your giraffe-legged reviewer. I could easily sit behind myself in the GLB with headroom to spare.

Elsewhere in its SUV lineup, Mercedes has been pushing the envelope trying to make its SUVs look more sedan-like with racy “coupe” designs on the GLC and GLE. Well, the GLB won’t be turning any heads.

The little Mercedes takes its design cues from a shoebox. This sport utility is all about utility.

Strangely, my GLB 250 came equipped with paddle shifters, which were as useful as tennis shoes on a fish. The GLB is not a vehicle you want to row hard. Its 2.0-liter turbo-4 has enough pep to get around town, but the turbo lags and the car’s top-heavy appearance (all that greenhouse glass!) translates to healthy body roll in the twisties.

Homely it may be, but you can throw everything and the kitchen sink inside its big square hatchback — and the GLB middle seats fold flat for easy loading. Its wheelbase stretches a healthy four inches beyond the CLA. Got more stuff? Load it on the roof rails.

From the side, the 2020 Mercedes GLB looks like any other ute.

If you want a stylish Mercedes, forget the GLA and check out runway model CLA.

With is long shark nose and swept lines, the sedan will get entry-level buyers’ attention. Papa S-class would be proud. Interestingly, the GLB is adorned with jewelry — chrome exhaust valance here, a dab of rocker-panel chrome there — in order to let you know the shoebox is a Mercedes.

The gorgeous CLA doesn’t need superfluous jewelry. Its lean body is visual enough. It’s even prettier than CLA’s first-gen car which I swooned over in 2015, especially in the rear quarters which drooped in the 2014 model like it had been held too close to a flame. The 2020 version sports a firmer derriere.

That’s important because the CLA is a companion sedan with the Mercedes A-class. Like the S-class and its S-class Coupe stablemate, Mercedes offers entry-level sedan buyers two body styles. Though the CLA has four doors, its raked roofline echoes that of the two-door, S-class coupe.

The A-class is attractive to look at — but for a couple grand more, you can score a date with the homecoming queen.

The hatchback of the 2020 Mercedes GLB may not rival the coupe-back of the CLA sedan, but it holds a lot more cargo.

Speaking of a couple grand more, I would recommend upgrading to the CLA’s AMG performance trim.

Like the GLB, the standard 221-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4 in the CLA feels a bit uninterested. The AMG 35 trim gains 81 ponies and a taut all-wheel-drive suspension.

Luffing along state Route 250 in Ohio, a serious-looking 232-horse Mazda RX8 suddenly loomed in my mirrors. I toggled into the AMG 35’s exclusive Sport Plus mode, tightening the suspension and steering. The engine lowered an octave as if clearing its throat.

With a flick of the shift paddle (useful in the CLA as opposed to the GLB) I dropped the transmission a gear, then floored it. Blatt! Blatt! went the lightning-quick upshifts as I sped through a pair of ess curves, the chassis solid as a rock.

The tires on the 2020 Mercedes GLB have a little more sidewall than the CLA sedan, in case you want to take it off-road.

Exploding out of the last corner, I glanced in the rear-view mirror for my RX8 friend. He was barely in sight, struggling to keep up.

If anyone challenges you at a stoplight, the AMG’s launch control is also useful. Floor the brake. Bury the throttle. Wait for the revs to level at 3,000 rpms. Lift brake. Zot!

As different as the SUV and sedan look outside, the cockpits are similar. Both come with a standard 7-inch gauge cluster. Upgrade to a 10.25-inch cluster like my testers and you get one of the industry’s best digital experiences. Where Tesla has inspired a generation of cars with big center screens, Mercedes has innovated the horizontal dash screen, stretching from the driver’s instrument panels across the console.

Note the Kia K5, Hyundai Sonata and 2021 Cadillac Escalade as disciples of Merc’s design lead. Managing the wealth of information on these graphically rich screens is a beautifully engineered steering wheel. Without removing my hands from it, I used tiny mouse pads on the spokes to negotiate between menus.

The 302-horse 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 enjoys the long, flat country roads of middle Ohio.

There’s self-driving capability, too, for the ambitious. Mercedes’ system is reliable on a divided interstate, even changing lanes automatically when you pull the turn-signal stalk. Unfortunately, the voice-recognition system struggled with my navigation commands, whereas the available Android Auto (ahem, Mercedes, if Kia can do wireless Android Auto, why can’t you?) responded perfectly as always.

I continue to use phone apps for my in-car navigation.

The Mercedes’ consoles provide useful storage space for phone and water bottles — but could be even more useful were it not for the giant touchpad that occupies valuable console real estate and proved clumsy to operate. I didn’t use it.

Perhaps my favorite ergonomic feature on the Mercedes is the location of the engine stop-start button — the most annoying feature in autos today — right next to the ignition button. Turn on the ignition key — and turn off the stop-start button in one motion. Thanks, Mercedes!

Aft of the front thrones, the two vehicles change significantly. The CLA sedan gets cramped, the coupe roofline bearing down on my noggin while I have to splay my long legs to sit behind myself.

So different are GLB and CLA that Merc fanatics might consider buying both for the garage. One for daily chores, one for weekend getaways. One for Hansel, one for Gretel.

Next week: 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

Rear shot of the 2020 Mercedes CLA.

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA

Vehicle type: Front- or all-wheel-drive five-passenger compact sedan

Price: $37,645, including $995 destination charge ($66,340 AWD AMG CLA35 as tested)

Powerplant: 2.0-liter inline turbo-4

Power: 221 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque; 302 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque (in CLA35 as tested)

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 4.8 seconds (mfr.); top speed, 155 mph

Weight: 3,505 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA 23 mpg city/29 highway/25 combined  (as tested)

Report card

Highs: Sexy bod; sporty AMG dynamics

Lows: Useless touch pad; cramped rear seat

Overall: 4 stars

The boxy 2020 Mercedes GLB may not be much to look at it, but it makes it up in utility.

2020 Mercedes GLB

Vehicle type: Front- or all-wheel drive five-passenger compact SUV

Price: $37,595, including $995 destination charge ($55,340 AWD GLB 250 as tested)

Powerplant: 2.0-liter inline turbo-4

Power: 221 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 6.9 seconds (mfr.); top speed, 130 mph

Weight: 3,891 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA 23 mpg city/31 highway/26 combined

Report card

Highs: Roomy interior; state-of-the-art electronics

Lows: Boxy exterior; sleepy turbo-4

Overall: 3 stars

Cartoon: FBI Spy Comey Forgets

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 12, 2020

Cartoon: Pence Harris Fly

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 12, 2020

CARtoon: Mustang Cobra GT

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 7, 2020

Cartoon: NBA Ratings Crater

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 7, 2020