Henry Payne Blog

Cartoon: Supreme Court Fence

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 16, 2022

Cartoon: Fauci Grads Masks

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 16, 2022

Payne: Cadillac Escalade Diesel is a vessel fit for a king

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 16, 2022

Charlevoix — Like a Great Lakes passenger ship, the bow of my Cadillac Escalade cut through the fog of an April snow shower. Sure-footed, diesel-powered, on autopilot to our port of call.

On a long round trip Up North to scope out my son’s summer wedding venue at Castle Farms, the Escalade showed why it is the King of Mega-utes. Parked in front of Castle Farm’s magnificent Queen’s Court turrets, the jet-black chariot bears the stuff of royalty: Cadillac family crest on the imposing chain-mail grille, big silver wheels like a knight’s shield, glowing front-and-rear horizontal running lamps like medieval torches.

My Sport model is equipped with black trim — in contrast to the Caddy’s signature chrome — which gives the great figure an added sense of menace. Behold, the Dark Knight.

Unlike knights of old, however, there is little clatter from the chassis. Once upon a time, you knew a diesel from its CLACKETY-CLACK-CLACK engine idle. Not Escalade. The Caddy’s twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-6 is the same as the new generation of Duramax diesels that power GM’s sibling Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. It purrs like a resting lion.

My family descends from their seats, air suspension lowering the cab and running boards extending before their feet like a royal welcome.

Arrive in style. The 2022 Cadillac Escalade Diesel visits Castle Farms estate in Charlevoix.

Castle Farms was built by Sears president Albert Loeb in 1918 as a grand country estate on a 1,600-acre farm. The house echoes a European castle with turrets, grand hall and archways. It fell into disrepair over the course of the 20th century — a curious ruin like so many European castles. Successful Domino’s Pizza franchisee Richard Mueller and his wife Susan resurrected it as a passion project in 2000. Today it is a bustling tourist attraction complete with train rides, wine tastings, art collections and weddings.

Escalade, too, has resurrected the Cadillac brand.

In disrepair after an uninspired close to the 20th century, Caddy engineers did yeomen’s work to rebuild the brand as an athletic competitor to European performance makes with the CTS, ATS and V-series sedan hellions. But it’s the magnificent Escalade that has restored Cadillac’s luxury luster — paving the way for its transition to a regal, all-electric brand in the mold of 1950s Cadillac ocean liners.

The 2022 Cadillac Escalade Diesel comes standard with rear-wheel drive. This model has the upgraded AWD.

That luxury is best demonstrated by Super Cruise, the semi-autonomous driver-assist system that leaves (most) driving to the car.

Along secondary roads, I drove hands-on — adaptive cruise control maintaining regulation speed since, ahem, my lead foot gets heavy in this nimble giant. But upon entering I-75, I toggled the additional lane-keep icon on my steering wheel and — like a robotic chauffeur — the Escalade took over the driving duties from me.

With hands-free Super Cruise driving and excellent navigation screens, the 2022 Cadillac Escalade Diesel is easy to pilot on long highway trips.

A green light signified I could remove my mitts from the wheel. No hands, no feet. I sipped Snapple, rested my hands on my knees and relaxed on my leather throne. Like a driving instructor with a novice driver, however, I still needed to be engaged.

The steering column-mounted infrared camera noticed me looking away from the road for too long while chatting with the alluring Mrs. Payne. That triggered a red light reminding me to pay attention.

North of Bay City, Super Cruise suddenly hit a blind spot. The green light disappeared, the Caddy wobbled — and I quickly took over, bridging the dead zone until the system re-acclimated.

No I-75 trip is complete without orange barrels, and Super Cruise asked that I take over in construction zones. Otherwise, the system worked confidently (Zilwaukee Bridge? No problem. Heavy Flint traffic? Piece of cake.) just like in 2017 when I drove from Memphis to Dallas. Only better.

Super Cruise’s newest trick is auto lane changes conducted with impressive accuracy. I have some experience with auto lane-changing from my Tesla Model 3’s Autopilot system. It’s sci-fi stuff, but the Tesla — driving along at, say, 80 mph, will balk as it encounters a slower car before passing on the left.

The Super Cruise robot chauffeur passes like a human. Seeing a slower car up ahead, my SUV didn’t wait to be slowed down. It put on the left turn signal, pulled left at 80 mph without breaking stride, passed traffic, then pulled immediately back into the right lane. What if a vehicle was to our left, you ask? Cadillac held station until it passed, then executed the passing maneuver. My 32-year-old son — no stranger to the hi-tech abilities of autos I test — gave it a try.

So good is Super Cruise you have to remind yourself to pay attention. There are the aforementioned dead zones and construction areas. Or, heaven forbid, a ladder dropped from a utility truck (yeah, that’s happened) that the system can’t see.

Exit the highway for a bathroom break, and the system will give up as it jumps the invisible geo-fence. Super Cruise has only mapped divided highways.

There are other super features on board.

The 2022 Cadillac Escalade Diesel's tri-screens can show a variety of information. Here the instrument display videos the road ahead, while the console screen uses a wireless Apple phone Google Map app.

Tesla launched the first salvo in the screen wars way back in 2012, and Escalade’s offering is three screens in one, spanning a 38-inch-wide, dash-mounted jumbotron. It’s a solution as practical as it is elegant. Whereas deeper console screens — think Tesla Model S or Ram 1500 — require the pilot to look down from the road, the Caddy system is always in your line of sight.

Useful is the left-side touchscreen, which allowed me to variously adjust the head-up display, check mileage or configure the instrument display. I chose to put the navigation route in the display in front of me while using the right console screen to show Sirius XM stations.

The Dark Knight earned high marks for practicality. The diesel engine returned a solid 28 mpg highway (compared with the available V-8’s 20). My wife, son and his bride-to-be traveled comfortably — especially my son, who fell ill from food poisoning on the return journey.

Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne fit his big frame easily in the back seat of the 2022 Cadillac Escalade Diesel.

Long journeys and illness don’t pair well, but my son had three restful options: 1) lay the front seat flat, 2) lay the second- and third-row, right-hand seats flat to make a (hard) bed, or 3) curl up in the roomy, dark third-row bench seat (helped, in part, by a new compact independent rear suspension) with the panoramic roof shut.

He chose option three and got needed sleep on our way back home on I-75. Roomy, luxurious, imposing. Escalade is a castle on wheels.

2022 Cadillac Escalade Diesel

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

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

Powerplant: 3.0-liter turbo inline-6 diesel

Power: 277 horsepower, 460 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 7.8 seconds (Car and Driver); towing capacity, 7,800 pounds as tested

Weight: 6,200 pounds (est.)

Fuel economy: EPA 20 mpg city/26 highway/22 combined (AWD as tested)

Report card

Highs: High tech, roomy interior; super Super Cruise

Lows: Hard to park; gets pricey

Overall: 4 stars

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

Cartoon: Biden Gas Blame Game

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 16, 2022

Cartoon: Choice Truckers Media

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 16, 2022

Cartoon: Fauci Commencement University of Michigan

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 16, 2022

Payne: Ford F-150 Lightning EV is fast, affordable and frunk-adelic

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 16, 2022

San Antonio, Texas — Ford F-150 trucks are Swiss Army knives. Their capabilities include trailer towing, mulch hauling, rock-crawling, stream-fording and drag-racing BMWs. They can also conquer the Baja 1000, host UM tailgate parties, offer mobile workspaces, provide first-class transit to the opera, and comfortably seat the Detroit Pistons’ starting lineup.

So offering an electric pickup option doesn’t seem like a stretch.

Like Raptor, hybrid, V-8 and Ecoboost models that have come before it, Ford Motor Co.’s F-150 Lightning EV is an impressive beast. Though its lack of towing range will limit its market, Lightning’s affordable price will tempt many to its electrified talents.

On a remote road in San Antonio ranch country, I set launch control in a Lightning Pro. Mat the brake, mat the accelerator pedal. The 6,500-pound truck let out a short GRUNT like a bull pawing the earth before a charge. I released the brake. To the moon, Alice!

The Lightning bolted forward, four wheels chirping as they channeled instant, 775 pound-feet of torque (ahem, 225 more than a $700,000 Ford GT supercar) to the pavement via twin electric motors. The thrust buried me in the vinyl seatback. With 98-kWh battery below decks, 50/50 weight distribution and independent rear suspension (IRS), the beast is stealthy and solid.

With a new box frame carrying a 98 kWh or 131 kWh battery, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is all electric with motors front and rear.

Sixty miles per hour blew by in just 5 seconds, quicker than a turbo-4-powered Mustang coupe. This in a base $45K pickup with utility that would put a comparably priced electric Mustang Mach-E SUV to shame.

Press a button and the hood rises automatically (no finger-cramping, manual hood latch here) to reveal … space. With the engine gone, cargo room measures 14.1 cubic-feet, more than a Fiesta hatchback. It’s a pickup owner’s dream come true: SUV-like storage in front to complement a 5-foot-5-inch bed in back. My tester swallowed two carry-on bags, a briefcase and backpack. Two golf bags will also fit. The hood automatically closes just like a … what to call it?

A hatchfront? Front boot? Front trunk will do. Or “frunk” as Tesla popularized the term years ago. It’s Lightning’s signature feature.

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning frunk carries 14.1 cubic feet of cargo - about the same as the boot of a Ford Fiesta.

Significantly, Lightning lacks F-150’s signature towing prowess. Capable of towing up to 7,700 pounds, the Pro’s 230-mile range is plenty for metro commutes — but when I asked the truck to travel from San Antonio to Detroit, it told me the 22-hour trip in a gas truck would require 33.5 hours by EV with 15 fast-charging stops totaling 7.5 hours.

Option the bigger battery in upper trims and its 320-mile range won’t do much better. Tow 5,000 pounds and range drops by two-thirds. Tow your camper to Yellowstone? Fuhgeddaboudit. For my Airstream-towing friends Chris and Tom, this is a deal-killer even as they marvel at Lightning’s Tesla-like performance.

A 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum towed a 5,000-pound horse trailer effortlessly. Smooth power delivery -- though range will suffer.

This is no Tesla Cybertruck, however.

Where the radical Cybertruck aims to redefine pickup design, autonomy and speed — just as Model S3VY siblings remade their segments — Lightning is content to blend in. That’s a change from Ford’s other EV icon, the Mach-E, which aped Tesla’s Model Y specs ‘n’ screen to gain cred among compact EV buyers.

By contrast, Ford dominates the affordable full-size truck space — and Lightning is first to market. The F-150 Lightning, which Ford officially launched April 26, is the Dearborn automaker’s most important product in its bid to overtake Tesla as the EV market leader.

Happen upon a Lightning and it looks little different from an internal-combustion-engine F-150 (which are everywhere in Texas, where 1-in-5 F-series are sold). No bolt graphic on the front grille. No LIGHTNING stamped in the tailgate. You might notice its lack of tailpipe.

Heck, my favorite base Pro didn’t even have the horizontal front/rear LED lightbars found on XLT, Lariat and Platinum trims. Surely owners would like a little more visual pizzazz for their first EV truck?

The interior of the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro features a 12-inch screen, digital instrument display, wireless smartphone connectivity and bottomless console space.

Fortunately, Ford didn’t skimp on other details that have made F-150 America’s best-selling pickup.

Think signature Ford windowsill dip for better visibility, roomy rear seats, commanding driver’s position, all-digital displays, 12-inch center touchscreen. With the touch of a button, the gearshift disappears, converting the console into a desktop workspace.

The Pro complements its Tesla-quick acceleration with coveted EV attributes like one-pedal driving and liquid-smooth, 7,700-pound towing ability. Even the F-150’s first independent rear suspension complements the unique EV experience by smoothing out bed flutter and eliminating that bane of pickups: crow-hop in tight turns.

Standard goodies include navi system, blind spot-assist, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, auto headlamps and drag strip parachute (kidding about the last one). Storage space abounds in the console, doors, the twin glove boxes. Out back, my truck bristled with four 110-volt plugs and one 240-volt plug (courtesy of the must-have, $1,070 Pro Power Onboard upgrade — more on that later) so I could run a rockin’ tailgate party off the truck’s battery — just bring jumbotron, fridge, cooker. The 240 plug will even recharge your buddy in a stranded Mach-E.

The bed on this $45K 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro is optioned with Pro Power Onboard to make the truck a mobile generator.

The market is flooded with $45K EV utes right now — none can hold a candle to this kind of utility. A $60K Volvo C40 Recharge in my driveway recently had the same 230-mile range and interior features, and would fit in the Ford’s frunk.

The Lightning’s unique attributes fade in upper trims.

With ICE models, walk up the  trim ladder and you gain multiple engine options beyond the base F-150’s 3.3-liter V-6: twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6; twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6; 3.5-liter hybrid; 5.0-liter V-8. Not Lightning. Upper trims feature the same twin-motors, same IRS, same 775 torque (with horsepower boosted from 452 to 580).

I drove a $75K XLT with cloth seats and adaptive cruise control and a $94K Platinum with a Mach-E-like vertical 15.5-inch touchscreen. Rich Ford customers will buy them because they’re the it thing — but they pale in value to, say, a loaded, $68K F-150 Lariat Hybrid that can charge your tailgate party with the same box plugs. There’s plenty of electric pickup competition north of $80K, like Rivian R1T, GMC Hummer and (coming) Chevy Silverado EV.

Give me the affordable tool. F-150 has always excelled in tech, and my truck nerd friends will geek out on Pro Power Onboard. Wire it into your house like a generator and it’s a Google Nest on wheels.

Charge it overnight on off-peak rates, then power your house the next night during peak rates. When the power inevitably goes out — welcome to southeast Michigan — Lightning can power your home for days. Geeking out yet?

With some 200,000 orders in the books, Lightning’s $7,500 tax credit is already toast. Good. EVs need to stand on their own four feet, and my $45K Lightning Pro is a fine example of how they can.

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning offers palatial rear legroom.

The truck’s range and towing limitations are evidence of electric vehicles’ narrow appeal, but Lightning knows its niche in the lineup. It’s for those who want Tesla performance that’s Built Ford Tough. Call it a Swiss Army e-Knife.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Vehicle type: Battery-powered, all-wheel-drive, five-passenger pickup truck

Price: $41,769 including $1,695 destination fee ($45,284 Pro, $75,814 XLT and $94,004 Platinum as tested)

Powerplant: 98 kWh or 131 kWh lithium-ion battery with twin electric-motor drive

Power: 452 horsepower (standard battery) or 580 horsepower (extended-range battery); 775 pound-feet torque

Transmission: Single-speed drive

Performance: 0-60 mph, 5.0 seconds standard, 4.5 seconds for extended battery (mfr.); payload, 2,235; towing, 10,000 pounds

Weight: 6,015-6,813 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA MPGe 68 MPGe standard range battery, 70 MPGe long range; range, 230 miles (standard), 320 miles (extended)

Report card

Highs: Frunk-adelic; awesome torque

Lows: Bland exterior; tow-range limited

Overall: 3 stars

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

Cartoon: Mother’s Day Whistler Recliner

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 6, 2022

Cartoon: Ministry of Truth Biden

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 6, 2022

Cartoon: Supreme Court Leak

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 5, 2022

Payne: Nimble Toyota GR86 gets more GRRRRR

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 5, 2022

Cave Creek, Arizona — The new Toyota 86 has been renamed GR86. That’s pronounced GREAT-6.

I took it to the flowing turns, blind hills and uphill straightaways of Cave Creek, 50 miles northeast of Phoenix. It’s a sports car’s natural habitat and the ideal place to explore the significant upgrades Gazoo Racing (thus the GR prefix) has made to fix the flaws of this wonderful, affordable toy:

1) A bigger, 2.4-liter Boxer-4 cylinder engine for more torque out of the twisties.

2) Stickier, wider tires for more cornering confidence.

3) Racier, upscale design to make the $100K sports car crowd jealous.

Just be sure to get it with a manual.

My tester came with a six-speed automatic and I ached for the stick every day I had the car on a weekend visit to the Grand Canyon state. Automatics have understandably taken over the market, given their ease of use. But in a Stradivarius like the GR86, you want to be able to tune it yourself — not sit back and watch the sheet music play. Especially now that Toyota (and its sister Subaru BRZ) have the formula right.

Gonna eat you up. The 2022 Toyota GR86's front fascia update is both more aggressive and more premium - evoking the 2023 Nissan Z.

I get to test lots of exotic sports cars — Porsche 911s, mid-engine Corvettes, Audi R8s — but there is nothing more satisfying than an entry-level sports car. It makes the joy of driving more accessible.

My young son coveted the original Toyota 86 (then called the Scion FR-S — remember Scion?) and its twin Subaru BRZ, when they were unveiled in 2014. He was so juiced that when a tester arrived in my Oakland County driveway in 2014, he jumped on a Southwest flight from Chicago to come see.

Low-slung, 200-horsepower, practical 2+2 seating, stick shift, rear-wheel drive. Alas, his balloon deflated when he stomped the gas pedal. The engine groaned, peak torque didn’t come until sundown, and — worse — it paled next to the high-revving, 197-horse 2006 VTEC Civic Si that we still had in the driveway. Sigh.

As the sage says, never buy a first-generation car. Wait until gen-2. This time, Subaru and Toyota nailed it.

The new 2.4-liter, flat-4 cylinder in the 2022 Toyota GR86 pumps out  228 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque - a significant improvement over the first-gen model's 2.0-liter engine.

All credit to Subaru, of course, which is the engineering lead on the Toyobaru. They swapped out the 2.0-liter flat-4 for a 2.4-liter flat-4. That means a healthy gain in power (228 ponies) but more importantly, a 33 pound-feet torque boost to 184. That’s nearly on par with the Civic Si’s 192.

Reaching for the steering-wheel shift paddles to get my manual fix, I rowed the box in TRACK mode between 2nd and 3rd gears through Cave Creek’s twisties — taking advantage of GR86’s fatter torque curve, which arrives at a usable 3,700 rpm (vs. 6,600 RPM in the old car). Gazoo’s chefs have also sweetened the exhaust sound and I wound the flat-4 all the way to 7-grand.

Save the manual. The 2022 Toyota GR86 comes in both manual and automatic transmission options.

The bigger flat-4 cylinder means GR86 loses none of its road-hugging goodness — the Toyobaru has one of the lowest center-of-gravity measurements in the industry as well as one of the lightest bods (2,833 pounds in Premium trim). Just for good measure, engineers also fortified the skeleton with high-strength steel, front cross members, a full-ring rear frame. My Premium edition was also shod with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 shoes — a step up from the base Michelin Primacy H/P tires.

Let me recommend the $2,600 walk from the base GR86 to the $31,325 Premium model with those Sport 4 gummies wrapped around black 18-inch wheels and other goodies like heated leather seats, blind-spot assist and a Supra-like duckbill tail.

Upgrade to the $31K Premium model and the 2022 Toyota GR86 gets 18-inch wheels and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires.

The latter is testament to the GR86’s significantly more mature look. Squint your eyes and it looks like the 2023 Nissan Z. And that’s saying something for a Toyota brand that can be hit or miss on design these days (seen a Prius lately?). GR86’s design is sleek, minimalist, timeless. It’s the looker of the Toyobaru twins.

“That’s an attractive car,” said Mrs. Payne, picking our GR86 out in a crowded parking lot. She’s not prone to gush. Leave that to me. From the aggressive front to the dramatic rocker panels to the rear duckbill, GR86 has looks to match its athleticism.

Dressed in killer red, the low-slung roller-skate got a lot of stares around Phoenix — a notorious cars ‘n’ coffee town. It also attracted challengers. An all-wheel-drive Tesla Model Y sidled up at a stoplight. Oh, I knew that wouldn’t go well.

I took the bait, stomped the pedal and rowed the oars for all they were worth. The Tesla disappeared into the distance.

The manual would have done a bit better. Toyota says the automatic is a half-second slower 0-60 mph. Sudden acceleration also exposes the auto’s biggest flaw: poor tip-in. I tested the GR86 right after a silky-smooth, six-speed automatic Mazda CX-30 (Mazda engineers are obsessive about this stuff) and GR86 felt like a bucking bronco by comparison.

The automatic’s biggest benefit is adaptive cruise control — which I use a lot in cop magnets like GR86 to keep my speeds at the posted limit. But I’d still opt for the manual — especially since Toyota equips it with a handbrake. Oh, joy.

The tandem are nicely paired in the center console of a redrawn interior. It’s spartan, but everything is in its place — except the curious decision to locate the cupholders inside the butterfly console bin. This is also where the USB is located for wired, Android Auto navigation.

The 6-speed manual, 2022 Toyota GR86 is the better driver's car - but only the automatic (pictured) comes with adaptive cruise control (lower right stalk) and steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.

Happily, door cupholders are within easy reach so I could navigate and slurp Snapple at the same time. Aft of the front seats, Toyobaru offers a rear bench too small for adults, but — like the 911’s 2+2 arrangement — they make welcome cargo space. Picking up Mrs. Payne at the airport, I stuffed her full-size bag and a second carry-on in the boot — then threw my carry-on and briefcase in the rear seats. Try that in an MX-5 Miata.

Miata is the class icon, but now that Gazoo has fixed the 86, it is the better all-around car with storage, room and looks to match its performance. Toyota offers a complimentary one-year track membership to the National Auto Sport Association so you can test the limits.

Preferably with a manual.

2022 Toyota GR86

Vehicle type: Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, four-passenger sports car

Price: $28,725, including $1,025 destination fee ($33,250 as tested)

Powerplant: 2.4-liter Boxer-4 cylinder

Power: 228 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: six-speed manual; six-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph 6.1-6.6 sec. (mfr.); top speed, 140 mph

Weight: 2,868 pounds (automatic as tested)

Fuel economy: EPA est. 20 mpg city/27 highway/22 combined (manual); 21 mpg city/ 31 highway/ 25 combined (auto)

Report card

Highs: Affordable performance; decent storage for a sports car

Lows: Adaptive cruise only comes in the automatic; get the manual, not the auto

Overall: 4 stars

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

Cartoon: Left Court Choice

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 5, 2022

Payne: Doin’ donuts in The D in the Mustang Mach-E GT

Posted by Talbot Payne on May 4, 2022

Pontiac — I like Skittle-colored Mustangs. Red, blue, orange, yellow. Especially yellow. The bright color turns heads on Woodward Avenue, accentuates the muscular hips, stands out against the snow.

Snow? What kind of Mustangs like to be driven in snow?

The all-wheel-drive, all-electric, 600-torque, Mach-E kind. After a snowy, wintry day in southeast Michigan, I jumped in and headed for the nearest parking lot to do donuts. You’re never too old to feed your inner 16-year-old, and let’s be honest, we’ve all wanted to do Mustang donuts in rear-wheel-drive, V8-powered GT coupes since we got our driver’s license.

With AWD and all-season tires, the 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT is a four-season performance ute.

But on dry pavement, not snow. Not that I haven’t tried. I took a ferocious, green Bullitt V-8 out in a Detroit blizzard (do we have global warming yet?) a few years back and it wasn’t pleasant. Rear-wheel-drive, 480-horsepower and snowdrifts don’t play well together. I struggled to make it up grades, rear tires squirming, traction-control straining, heart beating.

When I found my favorite snowy parking lot, the pony car was hard to control. The rear slewed on cue, but the front tires didn’t bite. And if I had drifted into a snow drift? Heaven help me getting out. Not so my AWD yellow GT tester.

Seasonal weather is what performance SUVs are born for. A fellow motorhead bought a rear-wheel-drive, 505-horse twin-turbo V-6 Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio hellion a few years ago — arguably the best-handling sedan on the planet — and traded it in a year later. Why, you ask? Because it was a fair-weather car. He bought a ferocious, AWD 505-horse twin-turbo V-6 Alfa Stelvio Quadrifoglio SUV instead so he could drive it year ’round.

I charged up to Pontiac in the Mach-E GT, its AWD system churning happily through snow and slush. Electric motors, as I’ve found on my Tesla Model 3, are efficient at handling slip and Mach-E was no different. Which is a good thing because the GT has gobs of grunt.

Like Tesla, the 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT has a big frunk for added cargo.

Arriving at a snowy parking lot, I buried the throttle and the ute spun like a top — all four corners spinning. With ground clearance to spare, I never bogged down in snowdrifts like the low, mean Mustang coupe.

Not that the Mach-E GT doesn’t look mean.

After having my fun in the snow, I got out and admired the stallion’s muscled lines. Is there a better-looking SUV? Signature Mustang taillights, coupe-like roof, muscular haunches, bowed rocker panels, phone-dial wheels, and capping it off — a wicked black face.

I know, I know, it’s just a plastic shield — an echo of the functional grilles that adorn its internal-combustion-engine brethren. But it works as a heritage piece so much better than the old plastic grilles on Tesla Model S sedans which, well — had no ICE heritage. Heritage matters, and that’s why the Mach-E is the best EV out there not named Tesla.

The 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT comes equipped with a leather interior and yellow stitching.

Where the Tesla brings authentic, shocking, electric performance to the table, Mach-E GT also knows exactly what it is: a pony car-inspired ute with brute power.

Embracing electrification, Mach-E puts more torque through its four claws than even an AWD F-150 Raptor. The power is slightly dulled by its sheer, battery-laden bulk — a porky 4,962 pounds. Floor the gas pedal (we need a new name. Juice pedal anyone?) on asphalt and the GT is not nearly as explosive as my 4,072-pound Model 3 Performance. Model 3 hits 60 in an eyeball-flattening 2.9 seconds, while the Mach-E takes another three-quarters of a second to get there.

No shame in that. It’s similar to the Model 3’s taller Model Y Performance SUV sibling, which has inherently worse aerodynamics and more pounds to carry. But once the ‘Stang EV is up to speed it is noticeably better than the Tesla at managing that weight.

A product of years of Mustang engineering, Mach-E GT is sharp and predictable at the limit where the Tesla feels numb and uncertain. That’s confidence-inducing in a sled this size. More precision is on tap in the summer months if you opt for Ford’s sticky Pirelli tires, but this being winter, all-seasons are preferred.

For the winter months, the Mach-E GT is best shod in all-seasons.

My speed-addled pal Rick, who has had a few muscle cars in his time, was also impressed by the GT’s looks, feel and interior moxie. Ford tore up the Mustang rulebook in the cabin — with good results: Mach-E GT brings Mustang heritage outside, sci-fi modern inside.

Rick’s biggest beef was the car’s girth.

That number contributes to his greatest worry: range. The GT has just 270 miles of it, and a sparse charging network if you want to leave Metro Detroit. He’ll stick with 3,700-pound, 288-mile-of-gas-range Mustang GT coupes, thank you very much.

The 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT is excellent for Metro Detroit commuting. Just be sure to install a 240-volt charger in your garage.

But as a metro commuter, Mach-E GT is in its element, assuming you’ve installed a 240-volt charger in your garage.

I have two — one proprietary charger for my Tesla and another for other EVs I test (about a $3,400 total investment). After charging around Metro Detroit’s snowy tundra, I filled the ‘Stang from 84 miles of range back up to 229 overnight (the recommended 80% of capacity).

Mach-E GT boasts a clean-sheet interior design -- a dramatic departure from its Mustang coupe-inspired exterior.

While Ford has tended to its heritage on the outside, it had the good sense to go with a minimalist, clean-sheet design inside. The interior is dominated by the 15.5-inch vertical console screen. A small information display is tucked behind the steering wheel.

Though Mach-E is inferior to Tesla in charging infrastructure, it one-ups the Silicon Valley maker with a more solid build, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — meaning the GT seamlessly integrates your phone’s Google navi when you slip into the car. Google Maps can’t chart a long distance journey using the nearest Electric America chargers — whereas Tesla Autopilot has your back. But, ahem, surely Google is working on that?

Big screen, big presence, big yellow car. Like the ol’ Mustang Coupe, the Mach-E GT looks good in a loud wardrobe. All that’s missing is the loud exhaust note.

Under the cane in Unbridled mode, the GT pipes in a low, electronic gurgle. It’s OK, but there’s got to be more up Ford’s sleeve. May I suggest a deafening, 100-decibel gas engine-like soundtrack? Call it V-8 mode.

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT

Vehicle type: Battery-powered, all-wheel-drive four-door SUV

Price: $61,00, including $1,100 destination charge ($63,885 as tested)

Powerplant: 88-kWh lithium-ion battery driving twin electric motors

Power: 480 horsepower, 600 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: Single-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 3.8 seconds (mfr.); top speed, 124 mph

Weight: GT: 4,962 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA est. range, 270 miles

Report card

Highs: All-season performance; good looks

Lows: Heavy; louder, please

Overall: 4 stars

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