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The GMC Hummer EV pickup reboots the infamous gas guzzling nameplate on an all-electric full-size pickup to kick off the age of Ultium.
Ultium is General Motors’ electric vehicle platform that will underpin all of its upcoming EVs, large and small. The skateboard-style chassis is very different from the one used for the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt subcompact hatchback, which never generated the kind of excitement that Teslas do.
The full-size Hummer EV was meant to remedy that problem in a big way. GMC pulled out all the stops and created what it bills as a “supertruck” as Ultium’s debutante. After a first drive I can report that the title is deserved.
GMC is starting at the top with the limited availability and fully-loaded $112,595 Hummer EV Edition 1, but will follow it with several trims that culminate in a $79,995 model with less content in 2024. For those looking for more affordable electric pickup, an Ultium-based Sierra EV will be in showrooms next year along with a Hummer EV SUV.
The Hummer EV Edition 1 comes with a tri-motor all-wheel-drivetrain — one in front and two in the rear — with a combined output of 1,000 horsepower and 1,200 pound-feet of torque. That makes it the both the most powerful pickup and General Motors vehicle ever.
It’s also equipped with a 200-kilowatt-hour battery pack that is the largest in any retail EV today and good for 329 miles of range per charge. It’s compatible with the fastest 800-volt public charging stations that can add 100 miles of electricity in 10 minutes, or fill it from 10% to 80% in 42 minutes, which is shorter than it takes to recharge batteries half that size in some vehicles. Plug it into a 240-volt outlet at home and it’ll be parked overnight.
A fully-independent suspension system with computer-controlled shocks, adjustable air springs and four-wheel-steering round out the package and pack on the pounds. The Hummer EV weighs over 9,000 pounds, qualifying it as a heavy duty truck.
That means GMC doesn’t legally have to publicize its efficiency figures, but it has. The Hummer EV gets the equivalent of 47 mpg. Not bad for a behemoth, but a far cry from the two-size smaller 835 hp Rivian R1T. Don’t expect it to do as well while either hauling the 1,300-pound payload or towing the 7,500 pounds it’s rated for.
The Hummer EV is also wide to give it better stability during high performance driving and allow the suspension to provide a limber 13-inches of wheel travel, so it’s required the wear the amber marker lights of an oversized truck in front that are also seen on the Ford F-150 Raptor and Ram 1500 TRX high performance pickups.
Removable translucent roof panels are standard, and you can take out the T-bar over the front seats and roll down the rear window to maximize the open air experience. All the panels fit in the Hummer EV’s power front trunk, so they can come along for the ride.
Top off or on, the interior is spacious, modern and functional, with dual widescreen displays for the instruments and infotainment system. The upholstery and an abundance of hard plastic don’t quite live up to the six-figure price tag, especially if you park next to a similarly-priced Cadillac Escalade at the club, but it was meant to get dirty now and then.
A lunar motif can be found throughout, which celebrates both GM’s involvement building the electric Lunar Roving Vehicle and the accelerated development program that brought the Hummer EV to market in less than two years.
The Hummer EV itself is very quick. While the nominal ride height provides 10 inches of ground clearance, the mischievously named “Watts To Freedom” mode drops it by three inches as the powertrain temperature is optimized to enable three-second sprints to 60 mph.
The space theme is appropriate when you try it because the experience in such a massive machine is like hitching a ride on an asteroid hurtling toward earth. Unlike some launch control systems, WTF stays engaged after a run, so you just need to stop, step on the brake, step on the gas and let go of the brake to do it again. Fun fact: It works on dirt, and is even more of a thrill there.
Just as impressive is the Hummer EV’s ability to stop from 60 mph in less than 140 feet, which isn’t much more than some sports sedans need. The regenerative braking action of the electric motors, 14-inch brake rotors and a unique set of 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory all-terrain tires with a custom rubber compound and construction all play their parts bringing the beast to a stop.
Driven normally, the Hummer EV is as smooth as a GMC Yukon SUV. Its Herculean power makes it feel as light as a light duty truck and the four-wheel-steering system can turn the rear wheels up to 10 degrees opposite the fronts, allowing it to make tighter turns than a Chevrolet Sonic subcompact car.
HUMMER EV LEAD ENGINEER AARON PFAU REVEALS THE SUPERTRUCK’S SECRETS ON THE FOX GARAGE:
It also has GM’s Super Cruise hands-free driving system, an adaptive cruise control that uses GPS maps, sensors and facial recognition technology to let drivers remove their hands and feet from the controls as long as they’re watching the road. The latest can pass slower cars automatically if the lane to the left is clear, although it doesn’t move back on its own. Additional functionality will be added via over-the-air updates when it becomes available.
Super Cruise doesn’t do any good off-road, but the four-wheel-steering lets the monster slither down a rock-strewn wash like a well-fed rattlesnake as you keep an eye out for obstacles with its 360-degree camera system that includes views underneath the truck and washers for the cameras mounted there. Several traction modes are available for different surfaces and conditions and the Hummer has both a mechanical electronic locking front differential and the ability to mimic one with the two rear motors for the most extreme situations.
Things weren’t too crazy on the trails outside Phoenix where I had the chance to test it, but I did crawl up a few narrow climbs over large boulders threatening to scrape the armored flat bottom protecting the battery, which can be fully submerged as it wades through 32 inches of water. Had I gotten stuck, the suspension has an Extract mode that can jack the truck up six inches to get free. It’s only available at very low speeds and isn’t currently activated on production trucks, but will be enabled through a software update soon.
The Hummer EV already has a standout feature called CrabWalk mode that turns the four wheels in the same direction to drive diagonally at 10 degrees and is more natural to use that sounds. The number of practical use cases may be limited, but it’s such an attention getter that even Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken notice.
Months after GMC revealed it, Musk said the much-delayed Tesla Cybertruck will get rear-steer so “it can drive diagonally like a crab,” but we’ll have to wait awhile to see one do that.
The Cybertruck was originally scheduled to enter production at the same time as the Hummer EV in 2021, but has since been delayed to 2023. Meanwhile, the Hummer EV is sold out until 2024, which means it’s still a truck of the future for anyone who’s not already on the list or willing to pay $275,000 for a used one, which has already happened more than once.
2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup
Base price: $112,495
Type: 4-door, 5-passenger, all-wheel-drive pickup
Powertrain: tri-motor electric
Power 1,000 hp, 1,200 lb-ft torque
Range: 329 miles
MPGe: 47 mpg