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GM's Controversial New Hummer EV Is Exceptional, On- and Off-Road

What it's like to drive the most controversial new EV in the world

  • We take the Hummer EV out for a spin to see what all the fuss is about.
  • GM's controversial new electric vehicle is seriously impressive.
  • Electronic systems help hide the big truck's weight.
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In the parlance of computer hacking, a brute force attack consists of a program using all possible combinations of letters, numbers and symbols in an effort to crack a password. It isn't elegant, but with enough time and effort, the correct password will eventually be guessed for a vulnerable computer system.

In some ways, the 2022 GMC Hummer EV is the automotive equivalent of a brute force attack. Range decreases and acceleration times lengthen as the weight of an electric vehicle increases, and the only way to overcome these obstacles is to add batteries and include additional and/or more powerful motors. This action increases weight, and you have to go back to square one. Pretty soon, you have a vehicle like the Hummer EV — a roughly 9,000-pound super truck that overcomes its mass with the sheer capacity of its battery pack, the incredible output of its three motors, and an array of computer systems that sort it all out.

An extended drive over two days in both on- and off-road environments makes us think that the Hummer EV has the potential to shake up the truck market in a major way.

Starting off slow, then going extremely quickly

My coworker Travis Langness had the opportunity to sample the Hummer EV in a limited fashion last year during a drive at GM's Milford Proving Ground test facility. You can read his article for more detail about the Hummer EV's powertrain specs and interior. This is our first time taking the Hummer EV out on public roads.

My experience began at a makeshift off-road course with ruts and hills that GMC designed to show off the Hummer EV's suspension travel and approach/departure/breakover angles. The terrain wasn't particularly challenging — a base Jeep Grand Cherokee would have been fine on the course — but it did give me a taste of the low-speed acceleration and braking calibration, as well as how the multiple terrain modes worked.

I was also introduced to the now-famous CrabWalk, which turns the front and rear wheels in tandem so the Hummer EV can move diagonally at low speeds. It is useful primarily while off-roading, allowing you to skirt past obstacles or get yourself out of tricky situations, but it can also be used to jump into and out of parallel parking spots with ease.

A straight line test was also offered, where I got to try the Hummer EV's Watts to Freedom (or WTF) launch control mode. With just a few seconds of preparation, the Hummer EV is ready for you to plant your foot on the brake, jam on the accelerator, and release the brake. The resulting launch is explosive, even if you don't hear much noise other than the synthetic electronic sound emanating from the speakers. The Hummer EV First Edition squats down on its haunches, lifts its nose to the air and pulverizes the road with 1,000 horsepower from its three motors. GM estimates the Hummer EV in this top-spec trim can rip from zero to 60 mph in around 3 seconds, and I have no reason to doubt it.

The question of whether a lifted 4.5-ton truck should be able to accelerate so quickly sparks another discussion entirely, and one that I am admittedly ill-equipped to extrapolate here. But I will say that it's more than a little disconcerting knowing that there will soon be heavy-duty trucks on the road with a ton of potential energy thanks to instant torque from electric motors with Bugatti Veyron-levels of power.

On tarmac and trails

The next morning kicked off a full drive day, which featured a mixture of driving on the pavement of Phoenix's suburbs and highways, followed by a two-hour stint off-road.

We had a lot of questions after astute internet sleuths discovered that the Hummer EV weighed more than 9,000 pounds, chiefly: how would the titanic truck feel on the road lugging so much mass? Thanks to a trick air suspension, four-wheel steering and plenty of tire sidewall, the Hummer EV is a lot more docile than you might expect. Its ride comfort is superior to most body-on-frame pickup trucks and the rear-steering system makes U-turns a cinch. There's also plenty of helpful deceleration from the regenerative braking in the Hummer EV's one-pedal drive mode; it comes to a stop with as much decelerative force as any other electric vehicle. All of these aspects admirably hide the fact that it weighs about half a ton more than the heaviest Sierra 3500HD.   

A few notes from the road: quite a bit of wind noise makes its way into the cabin, likely a combination of its bricklike aerodynamics, upright windshield and removable roof panels. It's also not as silent as other EVs, as GMC teamed up with Bose to develop an engine-like sound that pumps out of the speakers while driving. And the front windshield is kind of short. While forward visibility is totally fine, it does necessitate the use of three wipers. (The Toyota FJ Cruiser, with its similarly stubby windshield, also had a three-wiper setup.)

The Hummer EV also comes with the newest version of GM's hands-free Super Cruise mode, which can now execute lane changes without you even initiating one. I tried it briefly on the highway and it's just as easy to use as I remembered.

The pinnacle of my Hummer EV drive was a two-hour off-road crawl. Our test vehicle's Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires were up to the task of trudging through the dirt, as well as the light mud that formed as a result of the rain on my drive day. The trail narrowed considerably in spots, but the four-wheel steering really helped by kicking out the rear and making it so I didn't have to take turns too wide. I also noted that the Hummer EV felt less bouncy and harsh than other vehicles I've driven off-road, though the trail was also easy enough that we didn't have to engage any lockers.

A supertruck that stands alone

Like its primary competitor — the Rivian R1T — only a few examples of the GMC Hummer EV have made their way to customer garages. That'll pick up over the next few months as GM races to get all of its limited First Edition models to buyers before the more widely available Hummer EV3X debuts this fall. The only other soon-to-be-released competitor in the electric truck space is the Ford F-150 Lightning, which is still a couple of months out and doesn't have a spectacularly powerful version on sale — at least, not yet. As for the Tesla Cybertruck, it won't be released until next year at the earliest, if it even launches at all.

Edmunds says

With a starting price of more than $110,000, the Hummer EV First Edition isn't for the faint of heart or light of wallet. But thanks to its 1,000-horsepower output and seriously impressive tech suite, the Hummer brand returns to redefine the automobile for a new generation.