GMC Hummer EV (2022) review: electric monster truck driven

  • Mammoth electric Hummer tested
  • Tangled offroad in the USA
  • Is this the world’s wildest electric car?

‘I will be back.’

It turns out that Arnie’s most iconic line even applies to one of his favorite cars. Yes, the Hummer has returned for the electric age, meaning it now literally hums.

And the new car that bears the name is still as over-the-top as ever. Huge? Yes. Powerful? Very. Completely above almost everyone’s requirements for an electric car? Absolutely.

Still, it would be remiss not to report on what it’s like behind the wheel. We’ve driven it off-road at GM’s massive Milford Proving Ground near Detroit to see how capable it is.

Holy moly – look at the size of it!

Large is putting it mildly. It’s almost 500mm longer, around 150mm wider and 100mm taller than a full-size Range Rover – one of the biggest cars you can regularly buy in Europe. But that’s just the beginning: the Hummer EV weighs more than four tonnes, making it impossible to legally drive one in the UK with a regular licence.

And even though it’s electric, it still looks a lot like old Hummers. It’s blocky, sleek and looks even heavier than it is. The whole ‘grille’ arrangement lights up, with nice H-shaped DRLs at each end that have roll indicators in them, there are tow hooks everywhere and you can even lift out the roof panels (much like the hardtop roof on a Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco) . GM also says the Hummer EV can power devices from external outlets, similar to Hyundai Motor Group’s V2L technology. Given that the powertrain is under the floor, there’s also a “frunk” for extra storage space to go along with the rear cargo area.

Inside, it’s bijoux luxury meets utilitarian charm with this First Edition model we’ve had some time in. The black and white two-tone seats and dash are accented with bronze metallic details, and all the controls feel thick and purposeful to use.

The center of the dash is dominated by a large, bright and crystal-clear display that’s so advanced it shows high-frame-rate animations as you switch through the Hummer’s various driving modes; Normal mode shows the Hummer driving on the surface of the Moon, Offroad mode shows it on Mars, while Tow/Tow mode shows it towing the Saturn V rocket. There’s even a Watts to Freedom mode (and yes, it spells WTF) that allows the Hummer to use maximum torque.

Any technical specs you can lay out for me?

That weight and girth is largely due to the huge battery pack under the blocky body. The Hummer EV was the first car to deploy GM’s new battery-electric Ultium platform, and it’s the most extreme use case of the new toolbox we’ll likely ever see. The battery pack is 24 modules large (essentially two layers of 12 stacked on top of each other, which partly explains why the Hummer EV is so tall), with an e-motor driving the front axle and an electric motor for each rear wheel. Considering the Hummer is designed for off-road driving, GM has also strengthened the undercarriage, giving the battery pack more protection.

General Motors Electric Plans: The Ultium Platform Explained

GM says the Hummer is good for 746kW of total power (or 1000.4bhp in old numbers) and a tectonic plate-shifting 11,500lb ft, meaning this four-tonne mammoth can keep up with the likes of the McLaren Artura and Porsche 911 GT3, with a 0-60mph sprint time of around three seconds. Yes, three.

On top of that, the Hummer has rear wheel steering included, with 10ΒΊ lock applied during cornering to aid maneuverability. You can turn it off if you want, or even use one of Hummer’s most unique features: Crab Walk. That piece of technology allows the Hummer to slide from side to side and steer the rear wheels in the same direction. GM says that means this giant electric car can virtually bypass obstacles in off-road situations.

So how does the Hummer EV drive?

Before we get into that, we drove the Hummer purely off-road at one of Milford Proving Ground’s off-road torture chambers, so our experience is relatively limited. But even so, our condensed drive showed us what a capable machine it is.

First I do? Floor it. Even on a loose gravel surface, the Hummer EV catapults itself toward the horizon with astonishing power, complete with an all-digital V8-like rumble as the speedo climbs. Nothing this big and heavy should be able to use that kind of acceleration – it’s almost as if the Hummer has read the laws of physics and then thrown the book in the bin.

Then a corner comes up. Oops. Lift off the throttle and turn in, and a sweeping bout of uplifting oversteer on the gravel kicks in gradually. I’m somehow perfectly fine with more than four tons of electric car shaking its hips around the sweeping curve.

But as we slow down on a muddy track through the trees, that’s where I might need that physics book back. The brakes are there and working their hardest, but even with energy recovery going on for the battery pack, the stoppers feel quite weak. However, we are on gravel – perhaps there would be more bite on the tarmac.

Through the technical, narrow tracks, I get a chance to see the almost FBI-specific suite of cameras. The Lobster gives you an overview of all possible angles, even under each shoulder to make sure you’re not about to land on a big rock. It helps when climbing steep terrain, especially since it looks like you have four miles of hood ahead of you.

On a particularly steep grade, the Hummer’s off-road credentials were tested with its “B” position on the shifter, which effectively brings the car to a stop without even using the brake pedal. There are also switches to activate software in the electric motors to act as axle locks for better grip.

Even with hard lumps and bumps, though, the Hummer’s adaptive air suspension gives you the sense that most of them aren’t even that big of a deal; there is very little in the way of intrusion into the cabin or via the wheel.

It’s remarkable the work that has gone into making piloting such a large, heavy vehicle feel relatively easy to drive. Although we didn’t need to park it in a bay, so that might be a bit more of a challenge later on.

How is the Crab Walk?

You engage it when stopped, center the steering wheel and hold down the four-wheel steering button on the center console, with a nice animated graphic appearing on the center screen telling you it’s engaged. If you were to keep your hands at nine o’clock on the wheel, you can only turn the wheel half way in either direction to make it work.

As a sensation it is absolutely bizarre. Watching the road ahead slide from side to side is unlike any feeling I’ve had behind the wheel of a car. It only works at low speeds because it is designed for off-road driving, so if you accelerate further at speed, the system is deactivated and the rear steering returns to automatic mode.

GMC Hummer EV: verdict

Only the US would take something with such good intentions as a battery-powered electric car and turn it into a mutated off-road monster. It’s far too big to ever be palatable anywhere but North America and the power of this first release is enough to power an aircraft carrier.

But even with our limited time behind the wheel, it’s hard to ignore how much of an engineering achievement the Hummer EV is. It’s an EV showcase for GM and a Big Bang-like first strike for the group’s new Ultium platform. And it manages to be remarkably easy to drive off road despite its obscene size and weight.

The Hummer EV is clearly a “why not?” car for GM. And while there are plenty of reasons why it shouldn’t have bothered at all, you have to commend its unflappable conviction to the EV cause.

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