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2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype first drive review: Meet the new boss

EVPulse was recently invited to visit GM’s Milford Proving Grounds for an early look at the forthcoming 2022 GMC Hummer.  Unlike the previous Hummers made to resemble the military HMMWV (Hum-Vee) vehicles, the new Hummer is built on an entirely new platform optimized for EV applications.

Let’s be clear from the outset: The Hummer will be a halo vehicle for GM’s EV lineup. Every piece of advanced technology that it’s possible to put in a truck has been included, and GMC pulled out all the stops when it comes to the motors and performance.

Chassis and drivetrain

The Hummer is a clean sheet new design. Everything about it is new and oriented around its electric drivetrain. Like many other new EVs, the chassis platform is in a slab format, with two electric motors at the rear and one motor at the front. The 24 Ultium battery packs are located in the slab under the cabin, where they are protected on all sides and keep the Hummer’s weight down low. This allows GMC to place a pickup or SUV body on top of the chassis with plenty of interior space.

Of course, GMC gave the Hummer pickup its distinctive six-function Multi-Pro tailgate, which is a useful evolution of the traditional tailgate that functions as an access point, desk, a step up into the bed, or as a bed extension.

With the three-motor design, GMC has been able to produce up to 1,000 horsepower and a truly astonishing 11,500 pound-feet of torque. By comparison, GMC’s diesel-powered Sierra 3500HD produces up to 930 pound-feet, or less than 10% of what the Hummer can grunt out.

Power is distributed between the front and rear with a single motor up front, plus an electronic lockable differential that can route up to 100 percent of torque to either front wheel. At the rear, each wheel has its own electric motor with variable torque as needed. With all that power and the electric AWD system, the Hummer is capable of 0-60 MPH acceleration in just about three seconds flat in Watts to Freedom mode. More on that later.

Finally, the Hummer will take DC Fast Charging up to 800 volts and 350 kW. At that rate, the Hummer can add up to 100 miles of range in just 10 minutes of charging.

Suspension and steering

Then there’s the suspension. The Hummer rides an adjustable air suspension with 13 inches of travel between full compression and full rebound. In most modes, the Hummer has 10 to 11 inches of ground clearance on 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler tires. There are no solid axles as you would find in a traditional truck, so the lowest point on the underside of a Hummer is the skid plating that protects the chassis. When ordered with the Extreme Off-Road Package, the Hummer includes Extract Mode, which raises the suspension by 6 inches from standard, giving the Hummer up to 16 inches of clearance to its lowest point. In Extract Mode, the Hummer can tackle approach angles of almost 50 degrees without scraping. For those not familiar with heavy-duty off-roading, these kinds of figures are usually reserved for highly specialized rock climbing and racing vehicles.

Steering the Hummer is also a new experience. The four-wheel independent suspension and the lack of a solid rear axle allowed GMC to implement four-wheel steering on an entirely new level. The rear tires can add up to 10 degrees of steering when you turn the steering wheel. Together with the conventional steering in the front wheels, this gives the large Hummer pickup or SUV a turning circle roughly equivalent to a small compact car. You can make a complete U-turn in the space of a normal city street, which is impossible in other vehicles of this size.

One of the first capabilities advertised for the Hummer was the “Crab Walk,” and this is also a function of the four-wheel steering. In normal turning, the rear wheels steer opposite to the front wheels to turn the vehicle in a tight circle. When you select Crab Walk mode, the rear tires turn in the same direction as the front tires, so the entire vehicle moves diagonally. This unique feature allows the Hummer to maneuver in very tight spaces. It takes a minute to get used to the feeling, since most vehicles never move like that, but once you get the hang of it, crab-walking the vehicle is absolute genius.

Technology and driver assistance

This is a good time to mention the 18 different camera views available through the optional Ultravision system. In addition to convenient bed-view and wheel-view cameras and a camera-based rear-view mirror, the Hummer provides bumper-mounted forward and rearward views, and industry-exclusive forward and rearward-looking cameras on the underside of the chassis. This allows you to see your under-vehicle clearance in real time. Cameras mounted in the side-view mirrors complete the package and deliver a composite bird’s-eye view to the center display.

The Hummer is already a power and capability showcase, but GMC has also included the latest in cabin technology. The dashboard display is a wide 12.3-inch screen, and the center display is a 13.4-inch screen. There’s a dial controller interface, but you can select from all the available modes and control everything in the truck from that screen.

If you’re an audiophile, GMC offers a 14-speaker Bose audio system. We didn’t listen to it. We had more important things to do. It’s probably really nice.

GM’s Super Cruise hands-free driver assistance is included as standard equipment on the Hummer. This allows you to set adaptive cruise control on hundreds of thousands of miles of US and Canadian highways and take your hands off the wheel. Using a combination of highly accurate GPS, cameras, and radar, the Hummer will steer itself. The Super Cruise system now allows the Hummer to pull out and pass slower vehicles and then automatically return itself to the cruising lane. While the system operates in hands-free mode, it’s important to note that it is not self-driving, and the driver must maintain eyes on the road at all times.

Luxury interior

The interior of the pre-production vehicles we drove was about what you’d expect. Thick, comfortable seats and masculine (not to say macho) cues were everywhere, from the short, upright windshield to squared-off designs everywhere in the cabin. The seats were leather and we noticed controls for both seat heat and ventilation. We won’t get too detail-picky, because the GMC engineers reminded us these are pre-production and the fine points haven’t been finished yet.

The other thing to mention about the interior is the “Infinity Roof” removable roof panels, which stow conveniently in the frunk where the engine would normally reside. These remove with a quick twist of a couple of latches. If you’ve experienced removable hardtop panels in a Jeep, these are roughly the same. Oh, the frunk holds 11.3 cubic feet of cargo.

On-road and off-road experience

The drive route for the Hummer started off on a gravel road for a bit of high-power hooning, but we spent a lot of time on the paved sections of GM’s proving ground. These roads are made to simulate both smooth and rough pavement, with railroad crossings, bumps, and cracks in the roadway. If you’ve got a crappy road near your home, GM has replicated it at the proving grounds. The Hummer’s suspension and overall vehicle weight simply soak up most bumps and holes, delivering a smooth ride at all times. The large balloon tires and the long-travel suspension can be a little bouncy, but it’s a smooth and controlled bounce.

The Hummer wins as a luxury vehicle with its silky ride. As a performance vehicle, the Hummer moves out smartly from any speed. The all-important real world 40-70 MPH passing acceleration happens in just a few seconds, with authority. As an EV, GMC understood that range is king, and gave even the base model

The Hummer also allows one-pedal driving, and will come to a smooth stop when you lift off the accelerator. One of my favorite EV features is the little trigger on the left-hand side of the steering wheel. This trigger engages the regeneration function and slows the vehicle. This is great for smoothly controlling speed on a downhill section of road without stepping on the brake pedal.

The GMC staff who were with us demonstrated the Watts To Freedom (there’s a slightly NSFW joke in the acronym there) mode, which puts all the torque down in a drag racing-style launch mode. Engaging WTF mode lowers the Hummer all the way down and then you can hold down the brake pedal and the accelerator simultaneously. When you’re ready to launch, just sidestep the brake and the Hummer takes off like a rocket, pinning your head to the seatback as the tires claw for traction. This is the mode that enables that three-second zero-to-sixty time. We couldn’t help laughing out loud every time we tried it.

Then we took the Hummer on a variety of off-road courses with obstacles and it performed perfectly. The direct drive electric motors deliver maximum torque from the moment they begin to move, so no low-range gears are needed. The Hummer simply raises itself up and scrambles over rocks or slippery hillsides. The shifter provides a “low gear” setting, but this simply maximizes regen.

Pricing and availability

The bottom line on the Hummer is that this vehicle is a game-changer when it comes to off-road capability. Nothing else on the market will do what this truck can do. As an on-road every day vehicle, the Hummer will be a luxurious and fun vehicle with range up to 350 miles, depending on the model. All that power and technology costs money, so the Hummer is going to be expensive, but not really any more expensive than a top performance pickup truck or SUV.

The base price announced by GMC Hummer pickup will be $79,995 when the base trim becomes available. The Edition 1 Pickup with the available Extreme Off-Road Package that we drove last week will retail for $110,595 when it arrives at dealerships at the end of 2021. The Hummer SUV is expected in early 2023.

As soon as the Hummer arrives in dealerships, we strongly recommend you go check it out, just to see what the GMC engineers can do when you turn them loose on a project with no boundaries. We think you’ll be impressed.

Updated (8:55 am EDT, 10/07/2021): Model year changed to reflect model driven.

Written by Jeff Zurschmeide

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