2022 GMC Hummer First Drive: as over-the-top as ever

At a GMC-hosted event in the Sonoran Desert, we had the chance to put the production-ready Hummer EV pickup through its crawling, all-wheel-steering paces, and it did not disappoint. GMC

The Hummer is back, reimagined as a six-figure electric pickup. In some ways, it’s as if it never left: The GMC Hummer EV is as exaggerated as ever, in size, power, weight, even its appetite for energy. As always, some people will love its cheeky attitude. Others will shake their heads.

A recent Arizona drive of the Hummer, both on- and off-road, highlighted both its shameless excess and exciting technology: from its 1,000-horsepower electric power and Tesla-like “Watts to Freedom (WTF)” launch mode to the novel “Crab” . Walk” function and semi-autonomous Super Cruise capability. There’s a lot to like there, but it also starts at $110,295. That’s $40,000 more than a pre-order Rivian R1T electric pickup, and double the upcoming $54,669 Ford F-150 Lightning XLT.

Reinventing the lobster

The Hummer – born from the US military Humvee of the 80s, with a famous fan in Arnold Schwarzenegger – became civilian in 1990. General Motors bought the brand in 1999 and launched an expanded lineup of Hummers. After a surge in popularity, sales declined. A poster child for gas guzzling, the 2008 fuel price spike and GM bankruptcy killed the brand.

Hummer, now relaunched under GMC and hailing from GM’s “Factory Zero” in Detroit, seeks redemption with an electric powertrain: three motors, four-wheel drive and GM/LG Chem Ultium batteries and “skateboard” platform that will support a line of GM electric cars. These include a Hummer SUV and Chevy Silverado EV. It’s an opening bid in GM’s publicly stated bid to become an all-electric automaker by 2035.

The Lobster still looks the massive part, in white which is the only color available for the first version 1 model. Heads up: GM says 65,000 people have plunked down $100 to reserve a Hummer. The company won’t reveal how many it plans to build each year, but consumers who order a Hummer now will have to wait, by our estimate, until at least 2024 to take delivery.

The painful limbo is becoming par for nearly every EV retailer and automaker (Tesla aside), as consumers clamor for more EVs than automakers can currently deliver. Harsh dealer markings on hot new EVs only add to the frustration.

2022 Hummer EV Pickup Acceleration
With a whopping 1,000 horsepower from a trio of electric motors, the Hummer can launch from 0 to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds with its cheekily named Watts to Freedom (WTF) mode. GMC

Bold and brave, but modern

The Hummer’s sweeping hood and pearlescent LED-lit grille, upright windshield (with three small windshield wipers, the only solution to cover the post-slot-height glass) and 35-inch wheels with Goodyear all-terrain tires make a familiar statement of aggression. Four removable glass roof panels (“Infinity Roof”) stack securely in the storage “frunk” under the hood. The rear cab glass closes for outdoor wilderness adventures.

Out back, GMC’s versatile six-way power tailgate integrates a fold-down bed step, cargo stop and Bluetooth radio with speakers. A vinyl tonneau cover (or optional power cover) protects a cargo bed with a modest 1,300-pound payload. Towing capacity is an easy 7,500 pounds.

Inside, the Hummer gets a modern, tech-heavy vibe that’s a total 180 from traditional pickups. A 13.4-inch center touchscreen surpasses the current class thumper in the Ram 1500. Drivers have a versatile 12.3-inch screen. Both screens are lined with outdoor graphics that resemble map topography. This has to be GM’s best interface ever, running smart Google-based infotainment with appealing graphics, animations, voice commands, Wi-Fi, apps and over-the-air updates.

It all looks appealing and well-constructed. But not everything is right with the six-figure price tag. A $60,000 Ram 1500 looks nicer inside, as do several luxury SUVs that cost less, from a Mercedes GLS-Class and Genesis GV80 to GM’s own Cadillac Escalade. You can’t get leather at any price. And the power, heated seats have only the most basic lumbar support, with none of the multi-way functions (let alone massage) common in upper-crust models.

2022 Hummer EV Pickup Interior
Lobster gets modern inside – if not particularly luxurious – with a clean, modern vibe and huge screens. The roof panels are stowed in the “frunk” and the rear window can be closed for an outdoor experience. GMC

Hummer EV: Range and Technology

The Hummer has a 329-mile EPA driving range, topping both the Lightning (at 320 miles) and the Rivian R1T (at 314). But don’t be fooled: The Hummer needs the world’s largest, heaviest and most expensive electric car battery to get there.

A double stack of cells, or 200 kilowatt-hours worth, that’s 50 percent larger than the Rivian’s 135 kWh pack and weighs roughly 2,900 pounds — 600 pounds more than a full Chevrolet Spark. These cells, arranged in 24 modules, are protected from terrain damage by brush steel sliding plates. The result is a pickup truck that tips the scales at 9,000 pounds, about two tons more than a V-8-powered Silverado HD.

That weight means the Hummer’s energy efficiency is by far the lowest of any current EV: The EPA credits the Hummer with 51 mpg city, 43 highway and 47 combined. Compare that to 70 mpge for the Rivan and 105 mpge for the Tesla Model X SUV.

2022 Hummer EV Pickup Dashboard
The large 13.4-inch center screen sits in front of a beautifully sculpted dash in Mac-like silver-grey, bookended by huge vertical apertures in faux bronze metal. GMC
2022 Hummer EV Pickup Center Stack
The Hummer’s infotainment system is one of GM’s best, with Google-based apps and widgets, voice commands and sharp animations. Unlike Rivian, many hard controls are also retained. GMC

We sampled GM’s outstanding SuperCruise system, which allows hands-free driving and now automated lane changes on 200,000 miles of mapped and geo-protected roads. In the milder moments, the Hummer delivered up to 1.8 miles for every kilowatt-hour in the battery, which equates to roughly 350 miles of real-world range.

Hummer’s ultra-fast DC charging is another highlight. Its 400-volt battery pack can be charged to mimic 800-volt systems – such as on the Porsche Taycan or Hyundai Ioniq5 – and add power as quickly as any electric car on the market, at speeds up to 350 kilowatts. That requires finding a generic 350kW fast charger, which is in its infancy, but is starting to pop up everywhere.

Hooked to these Frankenstein plugs, the Hummer can add 100 miles in just 10 to 12 minutes; or fill the battery from 20 to 80 percent in just over 40 minutes. For level 2 home or public charging, the Hummer can draw juice at a healthy 11.5 kilowatts. When the battery is empty, a full charge at level 2 takes 16 hours.

2022 Hummer EV Pickup on the way
The Hummer is supercar quick in a straight line and seriously capable off-road, but on pavement the truck’s 9,000-pound bulk is a hindrance. It performs well for a huge truck, but the sports sedan-like Rivian R1T is much sharper on tarmac. GMC

Drive Hummer EV Pickup

Remarkably, GMC’s 4.5-ton truck can still blast to 60 mph in a thrilling 3.0 seconds. We experienced the shocking upheaval with repeated tests of the Hummer’s automated WTF mode. These WTF starters send a monstrous 1,200 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels.

A four-cornered air suspension with adaptive shock absorbers provides a reasonably smooth ride and enables a range of different ride heights. Tire noise isn’t terrible, given their off-road specs, but highway wind noise is noticeable, especially without an engine to mask it.

Supercar acceleration aside, the Hummer is relaxed and competent on pavement, but no more. The electric steering feels disconnected, the giant body unwilling to change direction, the tires overloaded and howling as the cornering speed rises. On the street, the much lighter Rivian is dramatically more agile and confident.

Still, the Hummer’s regenerative brakes are beautifully tuned, whether on or off-road, including a single-pedal drive that smoothly stops this beast without touching the physical brake pedal. As for audio, the Hummer sends some digitized acceleration sound through its sound system. Compared to some electric cars, it’s a pleasing (and driver-adjustable) soundtrack, a futuristic whirr that takes inspiration from Formula E racers, jet planes and even the “Fantasy” guitar riff from ’80s Canadian rocker Aldo Nova.

2022 Hummer EV Pickup Dirt Play
Off-road driving is the Hummer’s middle name, including ingenious four-wheel steering, countless digital aids and an air suspension with a range of different ride heights. GMC

Taking the Lobster off the sidewalk

Standard ground clearance is 10 inches, but an optional Raise 1 mode raises the clearance to about 12 inches for serious off-road driving. An emergency extract mode increases the body to 15.9 inches for emergency recovery from obstacles. And Lobster can surely ford 32 inches of deep water.

We tested these bona fides at a terrain park in the Upper Sonoran Desert. It included Crab WalkGMC’s low-speed, TV-friendly party trick, which lets the Hummer roll diagonally to maneuver around obstacles.

The Crab Walk’s true utility remains in question, but its technological enablers do not: From city to backcountry, the Hummer’s four-wheel steering is its engineering coup. That both improves maneuverability and reduces the Hummer’s turning circle to a Honda Accord-like 37.4 feet. From challenging rock climbs to dangerous exposed ridges, we were amazed to see the rear wheels of a Hummer forward swing up to 10 degrees. It handled turns and tight quarters like a much smaller truck, without having to wrestle with the steering wheel or perform three-point turns. It’s brilliant.

A range of terrain display widgets include suspension trail displays, pitch-and-roll and more, with “Ultravision” providing 18 different terrain camera displays to monitor the trail. The Hummer can also digitally ‘lock’ its rear wheels for extra grip in steep, rocky or slippery conditions, mimicking the action of hard quads, with a mechanical locker to do the same at the front. It does all this in almost total silence.

GM clearly feels that the Hummer’s electric propulsion is a Teflon defense against any accusations of gluttony and excess. Relative to the fuel-guzzling, almost anti-social Hummers of old, that’s certainly true. But then or now, Hummer remains a huge testament to conspicuous consumption.

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