Verdict: They’re as big, bold and loud as the original Hummers – but have technology and capabilities that even those off-roaders can’t come close to matching.
Against the competition: The only thing that comes close to price and mission (so far) is the Rivian R1T, but it’s much smaller, more luxurious and a lot less in your face.
There will be a lot of noise around the new 2023 GMC Hummer EV pickup. People are more likely to say that they are too big, heavy, and ineffective, or that they are too exaggerated and outrageously designed. Those folks are missing out on what the new Hummer EV actually is — GM’s technology showcase for the next generation of electric drive systems and technologies that will soon form the basis of nearly everything the company makes, from compact passenger crossovers to full-size SUVs and beyond. The GMC Hummer EV is GM’s shot, its chance to capture the world’s attention with something so amazing, so 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 all-new electric technology that could have been crammed into an expensive Cadillac sedan or two-person Chevrolet sports car, but no one cares about it anymore. Instead, the company has taken its latest toys and mashed it up with the thing it does better than anyone else: a full-size pickup truck, off-road capable, and beyond words. And on this lunar launch mission, the company scored an extraordinary victory.
Related: GMC Hummer EV Pickup Hit The Streets With 329 Miles Range, 7500 Lbs Max Towing
All goods in one package
The main reason for having a GMC Hummer EV (and yes, it’s a GMC, not a Hummer; the brand itself doesn’t come back) is to show off the Ultium – General Motors’ next generation EV system. It consists of a new type of modular 800-volt lithium-ion battery pack, new motors and thrust controllers, and new chassis platforms to house it all. The secret is that it’s all modular and scalable. At the top end, you have this huge truck with three electric motors (one front and two rear); A massive 2-layer, 24 unit lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 212.7 kWh (usable) that can add 100 miles of range in less than 12 minutes (depending on the DC fast charger you’re using); Four-wheel steering and a custom clean sheet design platform are built specifically for truck applications like these. However, the system itself will be scaled back for use in things like the upcoming Cadillac Lyric SUV, with a 12-pack, 100 kWh battery and rear-wheel drive.
But we’re here to talk about the Hummer EV, and since it’s taken as a standalone model, the new GMC is totally insane — in a good way. The design, instantly recognizable as a Hummer, begins as if the brand hadn’t actually been killed off in 2009 as part of General Motors’ bankruptcy during the Great Recession. It’s a purposeful off-road look, and it’s as practical as it is dramatic—the approach angle is excellent, and the edges that cut off the front bumper help smooth out obstacles on the trail. It has an undeniable road presence too, taking what looks like most of its lanes and turning heads left and right. She even faced some amazing challenges out of a bubble in my F-150 brooder during my test drive. I couldn’t tell if he was upset that the electric truck was physically larger than the gas one or if he was envious that the almost silent rock crawler could positively smoke his rumbling rig in a stoplight pull race.
It’s all about maneuverability
There is one aspect of driving a Hummer EV that will leave you stunned, and it’s not something you think it would be. Yes, it can go from 0 to 60 mph in an estimated three seconds flat when you turn on a special acceleration mode called “Watts to Freedom” (WTF mode, do you understand it?). I can certify that “Watts for freedom!” He is not What I cried when trying this acceleration test in an enclosed parking lot in Phoenix, Arizona, recently. The staggering acceleration is just amazing – no car that weighs this much (it’s said to be over 9,000 pounds) should be so fast. Yes, speed is limited to 106 mph, but you’re unlikely to want to go that fast anyway given its massive, massive size and the roar of off-road tires that reverberate around the cabin at highway speeds.
No, the impressive acceleration isn’t what’s really surprising in a Hummer EV; It’s remarkably maneuverable and nimble thanks to the four-wheel steering. Imagine steering a full-size pickup around a narrow off-road track, but the rear end sways as you turn the wheel, creating a 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 turned into an absolute breeze by the Hummer EV thanks to rear-wheel steering that engages up to 10 degrees of motion, creating the off-road or off-road agility you wish you had in other full-size trucks and SUVs. The Ford Bronco tries to simulate this in off-road conditions by selectively braking the wheel during cornering on soft surfaces, but it can’t do so in a paved parking lot where it will likely need as much tight maneuverability as it does out on the trail. A Hummer EV can do that, and you’ve never tested anything quite like it in anything short of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
One thing the Hummer EV does that no other vehicle on the planet does is the CrabWalk. This setup is triggered by the push of a dedicated button, which causes all four wheels to move in the same direction, allowing the truck to slide diagonally around an object. The effect is unusual, and it does provide some fun on the road, but its utility off-road is still in doubt. A full day of driving through rural Arizona didn’t give me a chance to actually need to use the CrabWalk feature, but I suppose it would be fun to have the ability to do so if one needed it. I feel it might be more useful to catch the eye at a local auto and coffee event than provide a useful off-road feature, but honestly, that’s not a bad thing.
Off-road endurance, off-road skills
I wouldn’t call Hummer EV’s road manners as civil but just tolerable. It’s a remarkably heavy truck, which is somewhat disguised by massive torque and agile low-speed maneuverability, but its steering feel is largely numb in larger trucks, thanks again largely to the rugged, rugged tires it wears. Those same tires also roar nicely into the cabin at highway speeds, something the Hummer EV Edition 1’s standard “infinity top” didn’t help, a removable translucent four-panel roof that provides absolutely no soundproofing and lets all sunlight pass through, though. Although heavily colored in an unusual blue colour. While it might be fun to remove all four panels and enjoy the sounds of nature, ridiculously dusty conditions prevented us from trying this feature – I will be giving props to GMC for a design that will allow you to store the removed panels in a Hummer box, allowing you to enjoy the experience Driving outdoors while still bringing the top with you, which the Jeep Wrangler doesn’t allow (but the four-door Ford Bronco does).
On the street, driving a Hummer EV isn’t much different than driving any big pickup truck. The acceleration is impressive, the braking performance too, and the truck is so heavy that the heavy side winds on the highway don’t bother it at all. It rides well, with a combination of taller side tires and adjustable air suspension, providing a smooth, damped ride. Add to that the rather surprising road noise, and you get an experience not unlike that of driving any heavy-duty pickup truck off-road.
However, get into the dirt, and the Hummer EV still impresses. There are two electronic modes dedicated to dirt driving – Off-road and Terrain. Off-Road is the higher speed setting, intended for fast lanes during dry washes, gravel terrain, and general tricks that require different wheel slip suits. It also makes a special truck noise associated with acceleration, a kind of mild fake engine noise, which is actually a useful acoustic cue to help you remember you’re in an off-road situation. The other off-road setting is the terrain mode, which is more of a rock-crawl and low-speed setting; It alters features such as throttle application and backsteering rate. This gives the Hummer EV incredible maneuverability in the dirt, getting around tight turns and obstacles with incredible agility. In a vehicle with a smaller footprint, like the upcoming Hummer EV SUV with its shorter 7-inch wheelbase, this feature would be an amazing change for off-road gaming.