The verdict: It’s as big, bold and brash as the original Hummers, but has technology and capability that even those off-roaders couldn’t match.
Against the competition: The only thing that comes close to price and mission (so far) is the Rivian R1T, but it’s a lot smaller, a lot more luxurious, and a lot less in your face.
There’s going to be a lot of noise about the new 2023 GMC Hummer EV pickup. People are probably going to say it’s too big, heavy and inefficient or it’s too overdone and outrageously designed. These people don’t understand what the new Hummer EV really is – GM’s technology showcase for its next generation of electric drive systems and technologies that will soon form the basis of nearly everything the company makes, from crossovers commuter compacts to full-size SUVs. and beyond. The GMC Hummer EV is GM’s moonshot, its chance to grab the world’s attention with an act so amazing, so jaw-droppingly crazy that you can’t help but stop and notice what’s been done . That’s what the new Hummer is – all of GM’s newest electric technology that could have been crammed into a super-expensive Cadillac sedan or a two-person Chevrolet sports car, but nobody really cares anymore. Instead, the company took its latest toys and turned them into what it does better than anyone: a full-size pickup truck, capable of off-roading and beyond words. And in this lunar mission, the company has won an extraordinary victory.
Related: GMC Hummer EV pickup hits the streets with 329-mile range and 7,500-pound maximum tow
All goods in one package
The main reason the GMC Hummer EV exists (and yes, it’s a GMC, not a Hummer; the brand itself isn’t coming back) is to show off the Ultium system — GM’s next-generation EV system. It features a new type of modular lithium-ion battery that can recharge at 800 volts, new drive motors and controllers, and new chassis platforms to house it all. The secret is that it’s all modular and scalable. At the top you have this monster truck with three electric motors (one front, two rear); a massive two-layer, 24-module lithium-ion battery with 212.7 kilowatt-hours (usable) that can add 100 miles of range in as little as 12 minutes (depending on the DC fast charger you’re using); four-wheel steering; and a dedicated clean sheet design platform specifically designed for truck applications like this. However, the same system will be scaled down for use in things like the upcoming Cadillac Lyriq SUV, with a 12-module 100kWh battery and rear-wheel drive.
But we’re here to talk about the Hummer EV, and taken as a standalone model, the new GMC is absolutely bonkers — in a good way. It starts with the styling, which is instantly recognizable as a Hummer, almost as if the brand hadn’t been killed off in 2009 as part of GM’s bankruptcy during the Great Recession. It’s a determined off-road look, and it’s as functional as it is spectacular – the approach angle is excellent and the chamfers that cut through the front bumper help climb obstacles on a trail. It also has an undeniable road presence, occupying what feels like most of its lane and turning heads left and right. It even drew chest challenges from a bubba in an F-150 brodozer on my test drive. I couldn’t tell if he was upset that an electric pickup was physically bigger than his gas-powered pickup or if he was envious that my near-silent rock crawler could positively smoke his rig- form rumbling in a drag race at red lights.
All about maneuverability
There’s one aspect of the Hummer EV ride that will leave you in awe, and it’s not what you think it will be. Yes, it can do 0-60 mph in about 3 seconds flat when you’ve engaged a special throttle mode called “Watts to Freedom” (WTF mode, get it?). I can attest that “Watts to Freedom!” is do not which I exclaimed while trying this eyeball-flattening acceleration test in a gated parking lot in Phoenix, Arizona, recently. The incredible acceleration is simply astounding – no vehicle that weighs this much (apparently over 9,000 pounds) should be this fast. Yes, its speed is limited to 106 mph, but you’ll probably never want to go that fast anyway given its massive bulk and the roar of dedicated off-road tires that ripple around the cabin at highway speeds.
No, the mind-blowing acceleration isn’t what’s really surprising about the Hummer EV; that’s how maneuverable and remarkably nimble it is thanks to its four-wheel steering. Imagine guiding a full-size pickup through a tight off-road course, but the rear end wobbles every time you turn the steering wheel, creating a much tighter turning circle. Or negotiate a narrow downtown street full of cars parked on either side. Or a crowded Costco parking lot. All of these scenarios are made an absolute breeze by the Hummer EV thanks to rear-wheel steering that works through up to 10 degrees of motion, creating an on or off-road agility that I wish I could have in other full-size trucks and SUVs. The Ford Bronco tries to simulate this in off-road conditions by selectively braking one wheel during cornering on loose surfaces, but it can’t do that in a paved parking lot where you’ll probably need that tight maneuvering ability as much as outside. on a trail. The Hummer EV can and does, and you’ve never experienced anything like it in anything other than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
One thing the Hummer EV does that no other vehicle on the planet does is CrabWalk. This is a setting, operated by the push of a dedicated button, that turns all four wheels in the same direction, allowing the truck to slide diagonally around an object. The effect is extraordinary and provides fun on the road, but its usefulness off-road is still a bit in question. A full day of trail riding through the Arizona countryside didn’t give me the opportunity to actually need to activate the CrabWalk feature, but I guess it’s fun to have the option to do so when needed. I feel like it might have more use in turning heads at a local Cars & Coffee event than providing useful off-road functionality, but frankly that’s not a bad thing.
On-road tolerance, off-road skills
I wouldn’t call the Hummer EV’s on-road manners civilized but merely tolerable. It’s noticeably heavy for big trucks, which is somewhat disguised by its prodigious torque and nimble low-speed handling, but its steering feel is largely numb to big trucks, again largely due big off-road tires that he wears. Those same tires also created a good roar in the cabin at highway speeds, which isn’t helped by the Hummer EV Edition 1’s standard “infinity roof,” a removable four-panel moonroof that doesn’t soundproof. not at all and allows all sunlight through, although it is heavily tinted an unusual blue color. While it might have been fun to remove all four panels and enjoy the sounds of nature, ridiculously dusty conditions prevented us from trying this feature – I’ll give GMC props for a design that lets you store the Panels removed in the Hummer’s frunk, allowing you to enjoy an open-air motoring experience while bringing the top with you, something the Jeep Wrangler still doesn’t allow (but the four-door Ford Bronco does).
On the street, driving the Hummer EV isn’t all that different from driving any big pickup. Acceleration is impressive, braking performance too, and the truck is so heavy that harsh crosswinds on the highway don’t bother it the least bit. It rides well, with the combination of high sidewall tires and adjustable air suspension providing a smooth and well-damped ride. Add to that that rather startling road noise, and you’ve got an experience not unlike driving any dedicated off-road pickup.
Get in the dirt, though, and the Hummer EV just continues to impress. There are two dedicated electronic modes for dirt riding – Off-Road and Terrain. Off-Road is the higher-speed setting, intended for fast passages through dry washes, loose gravel terrain and general shenanigans that require different wheel spin allowances. It also creates a special acceleration-related truck noise, a sort of fake light engine noise, which is actually a useful sound cue to help you remember that you’re in off-road mode. The other off-road setting is Terrain mode, which is more of a low-speed crawling mode; it changes features such as throttle application and reverse steering rate. This gives the Hummer EV even more incredible handling in the dirt, getting around tight corners and obstacles with simply amazing agility. In a vehicle with a smaller footprint, like the upcoming Hummer EV SUV with its 7-inch shorter wheelbase, this feature will be a game-changer in off-roading.