2022 GMC Hummer EV Edition 1 Defies Classification
GMC would prefer you call its new 2022 Hummer EV pickup a “supertruck,” a label that might be accurate given that the debut Edition 1 model we just drove can accelerate off the line like a Corvette, has the off-road chops to humble a Jeep Wrangler, and looks like a mockup of a lunar rover from a Marvel movie. But until we see one actually soaring through the air, we’re not quite ready to adopt that term. For now, we’ll just call it impressive. You don’t have to look hard to find something interesting in the Hummer EV. The loaded Edition 1 version has three electric motors (one on the front axle, two in back) that combine with a 212.7-kWh Ultium battery pack to produce 1000 horsepower and 1200 lb-ft of torque. The truck weighs about 9000 pounds, and its highly effective four-wheel-steering setup lets it tool around parking lots like a Honda Civic. It can go 329 miles on a charge, according to EPA methodology. While a recent prototype drive let us suss out its technical details in a closed environment, driving a production model unchaperoned in Arizona reaffirmed our initial takeaway of “wow.” The Hummer EV’s headline feature is its Watts to Freedom (WTF) launch mode, the referencing of which will forever make our eyes roll. But we suppose it is appropriate for a vehicle that should hit 60 mph in about three seconds and has an American flag tattooed on its C-pillar. Tap the stability-control switch twice to activate WTF mode and wait a few seconds for the truck to lower its air springs, stiffen its adaptive dampers, and prime its systems for the oncoming flood of electrons. Mash both pedals to the floor, let go of the brake, and hang on as the Hummer violently slams you into the seat, chirping its front tires in the process. Surprisingly, and unlike launch-control systems in other vehicles, GMC says you can drive around in WTF mode without it deactivating, making blasting from stoplight to stoplight hilariously easy. Ride quality suffers from the slammed stance, though, and the truck does look a little silly with the 35-inch Goodyear all-terrain tires tucked up in the fender wells. That the Hummer EV has the mass of two Kia Tellurides and the girth of a one-ton truck amplifies the abnormality of its athleticism, yet it comports itself well and can probably squeeze into most garages. Once we acclimated to looking out over its ultrabroad dashboard and through the gun-slit windows, it surprised us with its wieldiness compared with other large pickups, such as our long-term Ram 1500 TRX, which is 1.3 inches wider and 16.1 inches longer still. Rear wheels that can swivel up to 10 degrees plus an array of 18 exterior cameras aid maneuverability and help prevent you from unintentionally backing over Mazda Miatas. Crank the steering wheel all the way and this behemoth can turn around in a shockingly tight 37.1 feet. Activating the Hummer’s other party trick, Crabwalk mode, turns the rear wheels in phase with the fronts, allowing the truck to drive cockeyed at up to 15 mph—an all but useless feature in the real world, save for swiveling heads when you pull up to the curb. The Hummer EV greets the open road with excellent ride comfort, positive if somewhat numb steering, and strong brakes. Aggressive inputs quickly remind you of the sheer amount of mass it carries. But the truck responds obediently to casual commands, and the low-mounted battery—which at 2923 pounds weighs as much as a small hatchback—keeps the center of gravity low, boosting the Hummer’s composure and stability. Stomp the accelerator and it can bolt through gaps in traffic with startling swiftness. And a range of sound profiles played through the stereo speakers brings some welcome auditory flavor to the driving experience. While the WTF soundtrack reminds us of a starship getting sucked through a wormhole, the profiles for the other drive modes (Normal, Off Road, Terrain, Tow/Haul, and the customizable My Mode) are more subdued and largely serve as low-frequency background noise that helps mask the roar from the tires. We also appreciate the Hummer’s multiple setups for regenerative braking, including an on-demand paddle on the steering wheel that can bring the vehicle to a stop, plus two levels of intensity for one-pedal operation. GM’s latest version of its Super Cruise hands-free driving assistant makes motoring on certain divided highways a similarly low-effort affair. Already the industry standard for its adroit lane-centering ability and overall competence, this latest version adds an automated lane-change function that can be activated by tapping the turn-signal stalk or letting the truck decide when to overtake slower-moving traffic on its own. Although it was (wisely) a bit cautious in determining when there was sufficient room to pass, the Hummer smoothly executed several excursions to the left lane without issue, returning to its previous lane when there was enough space. It wasn’t until we steered away from pavement that the Hummer got into character, though, skillfully navigating tight, rocky two-tracks that a vehicle this large and powerful would seem to have no business tackling. It helped that the adjustable air springs allow for up to 15.9 inches of ground clearance and that the fully independent suspension can cycle through 13 inches of travel front and rear. There’s also the dogged traction provided by an electronically locking front differential and a rear axle with both virtual locking and torque-vectoring capability. Despite its ever-present bulk, this big GMC has far more power than is needed for most trails, yet carefully metering its immense grunt is an effortless task. While drivers of F-150 Raptors and TRXs won’t be upstaged in high-speed off-road conditions, the Hummer did cushion harder impacts well enough to make us think it could survive landings from low-level flight. More impressive is its ability to seemingly pivot around obstacles in Terrain mode, which employs the four-wheel-steering system to maximum effect and can be thought of as low-range four-wheel drive in a conventional pickup. Skid plates and rock sliders protect the Hummer’s underside, and front and rear tow hooks that look fit for a piece of earth-moving equipment will be welcome if you ever bury the truck in soft ground. Buyers wanting even more ground clearance from larger aftermarket tires are in luck, as GMC says it designed both the pickup and the upcoming SUV version to accommodate 37-inch rubber. While such an upgrade surely will cut into its range, that GMC’s engineers made the effort makes us wonder whether a more hardcore Hummer model is lurking over the horizon. Our disappointments centered on the Edition 1’s interior, which isn’t quite as capacious as a conventional crew-cab pickup’s, particularly in back, and not as finely finished as we’d expect with its $110,395 base price. It’s easy to spot some cheap hard plastics creeping up the huge center console, and the textured vinyl on the dash and armrests, while attractive, is coarse enough to sand off your elbows. The ease with which you can remove the four transparent roof panels and stow them in the sizeable frunk is great, yet when they’re in place, the numerous seams they create produced an annoying whistle at highway speeds that we wouldn’t want to tolerate for extended periods. We will give GMC props for the infotainment presentation of the 12.3-inch instrument-cluster display and 13.4-inch center touchscreen, which uses Epic Games’ Unreal Engine modeling software to vividly and intuitively render the Hummer’s numerous settings and animations for its drive modes and performance readouts. We just wish the system had more processing power, as we spent too much time looking at loading screens whenever we jumped between main functions. Although we had no need to charge the Hummer during our day in the desert, its battery system is designed to automatically adjust between 400- and 800-volt inputs, depending on the DC fast-charging source, and the Hummer can draw power at up to a stout 300 kW. Starting with nearly a full charge, we had well over 100 miles of range left after a couple hours of commuting to and from the trailhead plus an afternoon of off-roading. We’re still not any closer on how to label the Hummer EV, as it comes off as both an engineering triumph and a caricature of the automobile’s electric future. But it does make quite a first impression.
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