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Monday, November 28, 2022

Review: 2022 GMC Hummer EV Redefines the Pickup Truck

The first thing one notices about the 2022 GMC Hummer EV is its giant size – it’s clear that Hummer stands for humongous.

But the true revelation comes once in the driver’s seat and the ignition turns on. This is an entirely new type of pickup truck and far different from the gas-guzzling, ungainly vehicles that made up the previous iteration of the Hummer brand.

Although impressive, all is not perfect; Trucks.com outlines the problems below. But what’s clear is that Hummer will introduce enthusiasts to the joy of electric off-roading – for the minority of owners who will take it off the pavement. It also foreshadows many of the characteristics and features consumers will experience with the advent of large electric pickups and SUVs.

From the first electric-powered creep forward, the Hummer quickly displays two characteristics that set it apart from other trucks and, indeed, most large SUVs. The vehicle glides along on a superb air suspension that removes the constant jostling and bouncing that plagues most pickup trucks, especially unladen. And then it turns on a dime, thanks to a unique four-wheel steering system and electric motors mounted front and back.

2022 GMC Hummer EV size

Consider this. Although the Hummer is 216.8 inches long and 86.7 inches wide – not counting mirrors – it has a turning radius of 18.55 feet. Depending on the body configuration, that’s slightly smaller than a BMW 3-Series sedan and two to eight feet less than a Ford F-150. Who would have thought a pickup truck could turn like an iconic sports sedan?

The Hummer turns like a sports sedan.

All of this is quickly evident on paved roads, but the breakthrough nature of the truck becomes even more apparent once it hits the dirt trail. In several hours of driving off-road in the hills near Peoria, Ariz., the Hummer conquered a variety of challenging terrain, including washboard, ruts, a dry creek bed, steep climbs and small rock gardens. Although the occupants still feel the expected jigs and jags of off-roading, the Hummer’s suspension mitigated a surprising degree of harshness.

There is a bonus – no engine noise. Traversing the dirt trails past wild donkeys and other desert wildlife, the electric Hummer is nearly silent except for the crunching of dirt and stones beneath the 35-inch tires. Electric off-roading is more serene and in many ways more fun than driving the same trail in a gas or diesel vehicle.

Three-Motor System

The Hummer’s heart comprises a three-motor drive system that GMC estimates produces 1,000 horsepower and combined axle torque of 11,500 pound-feet. There’s no need to start accelerating in anticipation of a steep ascent. That torque is there instantly, allowing the Hummer to climb hills and rocky obstacles slowly, steadily, and confidently.

Technically, the three-motor system creates all-wheel-drive rather than the four-wheel-drive off-roaders typically use. But they won’t notice the difference in even the trickiest situations. When needed, software pairs the motors in the back, matching wheel spin to create a virtual rear axle locker. There also is a mechanical front locker, as that axle uses a single electric motor. There are five skid plates to protect the Hummer’s underbody from rocks and other obstacles. The center screen displays a choice of camera views, including what’s underneath, to help drivers navigate rough terrain.

The Hummer’s roof panels are easily removed and stored under the hood – where a gas engine is on other vehicles. It makes for a fun open-air experience when off-roading. But the wind and noise are significant once back on the highway. And the lightweight panels allow more heat and sun into the cabin than a traditional roof or a closed moonroof.

The Hummer can tow up to 7,500 pounds. It can carry a payload of 1,300 pounds. But both will diminish the range, requiring more frequent charging.

2022 GMC Hummer EV Technology

GMC has packed the Hummer with other clever technology.

The CrabWalk feature pairs the rear wheels and front wheels to steer at the same angle at low speeds, enabling diagonal movement of the vehicle. That makes it easier to avoid obstacles or make sharp turns on the trail.

Extract Mode is a feature that lifts the suspension height by 6 inches to deal with extreme obstacles such as fording streams or clearing boulders. The can ford 32 inches of water.

Super Cruise

It is the first General Motors vehicle with the new version of Super Cruise, an automated driving system that works on most major U.S. highways. The system allows the truck to drive itself. There’s no need for the driver to hold the steering wheel or operate the brake and accelerator pedals. The truck will travel up to a preset speed limit, passing slower cars as necessary without driver intervention. That isn’t true autonomous driving. The driver must keep their eyes on the road, and a camera monitors compliance. Some curves will be too tight for the automated system to navigate and it will shut off and tell the driver to take control. It won’t take the Hummer through highway on- and off-ramps. Still, it is among the best automated systems automakers have developed and reduces driver fatigue on long trips.

But it also presents another issue. GMC is making Super Cruise a subscription service. It will shut off after three years of ownership without renewal. The automaker has not provided pricing for renewal.

And then there is what GMC calls Watts to Freedom. It is a fun parlor trick that few will have the space to do safely. It is a combination of settings that allow a driver to spool the electric motors to full power. When ready, the driver crushes the accelerator pedal., triggering a drag race type jump that throws occupants back against their seats. While thrilling, the maneuver can only be conducted safely on a closed course. The worry with the setting is that owners will try it in vacant parking lots and streets, and mishaps will ensue. While fun, Watts to Freedom isn’t practical.

Although a technical wonder, the Hummer EV still has issues potential buyers must consider.

Problems To Consider

First up is the more than $110,000 price for the Hummer EV Edition 1, the model that’s now for sale. That makes it about the most expensive vehicle GMC and parent company General Motors sell. There are many great vehicles for six figures, both gas and electric.

The next is the process of buying and taking delivery. Production is limited. People are selling their reservations spots, and even those with a firm order face another hurdle – negotiating the price with the dealer. GMC provides a suggested price, but nothing stops a dealer from asking more, as many are with far more mundane vehicles because of the current industry-wide inventory shortage.

There are also issues with the Hummer itself, starting with its massive 9,000-pound weight. That’s about double the weight of a typical Chevrolet Silverado. It is so heavy that the Hummer couldn’t tow another Hummer.

The electric drivetrain has no issues moving the vehicle, as evidenced by the 0-60 mph time of a bit more than three seconds. But once a driver takes a vehicle off-road anything can happen, including getting stuck in sand or mud. Freeing the Hummer will take a winch and another Hummer or some heavy-duty truck. And the Hummer doesn’t have a fitting for a winch, so extracting the truck will be tricky and possibly expensive.

No Spare Tire

It has another critical flaw for off-roading. The Hummer does not come with a spare wheel and tire. That might make sense for the GMC engineers attempting to reduce weight and preserve range distance and cargo and cabin space. But flat tires are part of off-roading. Those who do a lot seldom escape an occasional flat. Owners can purchase an extra wheel and tire for $700 and toss it in the truck’s bed. There’s no way they should go into the wilderness without one.

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Drivers need a spare tire if they are going off the pavement.

The Hummer is the first General Motors vehicle equipped with its new modular Ultium battery and drive system. It uses two layers of vertical cell modules will be used to produce a combined 24-module pack offering an estimated range of 329 miles. The battery pack is giant and accounts for the Hummer’s massive weight.

Owners can expect longer charging times than other electric vehicles because there is more to power up. It will take about 20 hours of charging via a typical 240-volt home charger on a 40 amp circuit to put 200 miles of range on the Hummer. A 60-amp circuit reduces that to about 13 hours. GMC equipped the Hummer with technology for much faster charging, but most public and home charging infrastructure cannot tap that.

The Hummer EV Edition 1 comes standard with a full suite of advanced driver assistance features such as automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring.

It also has an excellent technology package accessed through a 13.4-inch diagonal infotainment screen and a 12.3-inch diagonal driver information center display. But there are a lot of buttons and settings. The system is intimidating for those new to the vehicle. Owners will have to climb a learning curve to access and understand all the features.

Get In Line Now

Most consumers won’t be able to purchase a Hummer. The price puts it out of reach. And for those who want it, get in line. Shoppers who don’t have a reservation already can expect a wait of several years.

Nonetheless, this is one of the most important vehicle introductions in years, especially for General Motors. It points to how pickup trucks and large SUVs will change in the transition from internal combustion engines. The Hummer is a marvelous testbed for technology that will find its way into less expensive and smaller vehicles. It is a leap forward.

Jerry Hirsch March 21, 2022
Ford said the range of the electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck is 230 to 320 miles depending on the configuration.

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