SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — When General Motors announced that its first electric pickup truck would wear the legendary Hummer badge, I giggled.
The idea of an electrified Hummer, the gas guzzlingest of all the gigantic SUV gas guzzlers, was as absurd as it was ridiculous. And that’s precisely why it works.
The new 2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup is a thumb in the eye of every environmentalist who tried to kill Hummer back in the late 2000s. Yet, it’s also an embrace of the inevitability of electrified transportation. It’s as if the GM product planners had a meeting about getting the most skeptical truck lovers on board with batteries. The result is this 9,000-pound monument to environmentally-friendly excess.
And boy, was it worth it. I will run out of thesaurus words for gargantuan but pretend I invented some more. It’s not that enormous, at least compared to a 3/4-ton pickup like the Ford F-250 Super Duty or the GMC Sierra HD. If you currently drive a full-size truck or a big SUV like a Suburban, you’ll have little trouble adjusting.
If you’re coming from anything smaller, though, make sure to practice before trying to slip the big beast into a tight parking spot. But actually… you don’t have to practice as much as you’d think.
The Hummer pickup is packed full of clever tech to make driving it deceptively easy, and the most important of these is rear-wheel steering. When moving at low speeds, the rear wheels can turn an astonishing 10 degrees in either direction, massively decreasing the turning radius of the big truck.
It takes a gigantic buffalo of an automobile and makes it as agile as a jungle cat. On the first drive of the Hummer pickup in suburban Scottsdale this week, I was shocked at how tightly the pickup maneuvered. Whether in a space-constrained Starbucks parking lot or on a tight desert off-road trail (chosen, I’m sure, specifically to emphasize the Hummer’s turning circle), I was continually surprised almost every time I turned the wheel.
My drive partner, a veteran truck journalist from a major auto magazine you’ve heard of, was equally astonished. The rear-steer is a Hummer-sized quality of life improvement, and it enables the look-what-my-truck-can-do Crab Walk feature that sees the Hummer drive diagonally down the street. It’s wildly unnecessary but silly amounts of fun, which is this truck in a nutshell.
The exterior is what you’d get if a Hummer and a moon buggy made a glorious electric baby. Clever LED lighting at the front serves the triple purpose of spelling out HUMMER in glowing letters on the front grille, illuminating the road at night, and acting as a luminous charge meter when the truck is plugged in.
And you’ll need to charge it for a long while. The 205 kWh battery is the largest in any production consumer vehicle, and it’ll take some 18 hours to charge on a 60-amp Level 2 residential charger. But it’s worth it since it also has a 329-mile GM-estimated range, which is (just a little bit) longer than the more domesticated Ford F-150 Lightning.
It comes with GMC’s excellent MultiPro six-way tailgate and an excellent air suspension that adjusts the ride height by nine inches from bottom to top. When in the lowest “entry/exit mode,” I’m relatively sure my 5-foot-1-inch mother could even clamber in without too much trouble.
The over-the-top design continues on the inside, with rugged elements and inspired touches everywhere — but it feels far from luxurious, a bit odd for a $110,000 supertruck.
It’s dominated by a pair of 12-inch screens, one a centrally-mounted touchscreen for navigation, connectivity, and media, and the other as a dash cluster. Both have a flashy, Hummer-exclusive user interface designed by the same studio that did many of the computer designs for Black Panther and Iron Man. There’s no way this truck won’t make its way to a comic book movie near you.
The center console is massively and unnecessarily wide, a likely homage to the H1’s famous bulk, but it makes the car somehow feel both spacious and cramped. I get why it’s designed the way it is, but I wish it were more open.
Speaking of open, the roof is made of four transparent Sky Panels that can be removed. That makes the Hummer EV Pickup a convertible, which is amazingly unnecessary but completely wonderful. The off-road abilities of the Hummer EV are awe-inspiring, and the silent propulsion of the truck’s three electric motors — making a total of 1,200 horsepower, by the way — will make for some terrific interactions with the environment you’re trying to save by buying electric.
Or, if you want something a little more over-the-top, there’s the new Watts To Freedom mode that’s helpfully acronymed WTF. Activate that to prepare the truck for a maximum attack 0-60 mph run. GMC engineers have worked hard on this feature, and it somehow delivers a big kick to the back that’s more impressive than most EV launches. Perhaps it’s because of the sheer impossibility of moving that much weight that fast, but even with 35-inch mud-terrain tires on the truck seemed to meet its claimed 0-60 time of 3 seconds.
The truck was designed to take 37-inch tires, and I assume a future special edition will take advantage of that; but you can upgrade if you want to make your EV even bigger… but know that it’ll probably impact your range by quite a bit.
All is not perfect with the GMC Hummer EV Pickup, however. Though the truck is filled with fantastic technology, the materials choices are not terrific. The center console armrest is made of a material meant to look tough but feels not unlike sandpaper when you rest your arm on it. There are some beautiful elements, like the bronzed (plastic) grab handles and frame around the screen, but a number of cheap plastic trim parts look like what you’d find on an entry-level Chevy work truck.
And all over are cute design bits with different ridges and tactile designs, but after a couple of weeks, they’ll be filled with french fry crumbs and dust, and it’ll be a nightmare getting everything clean again.
The Marvel-inspired and Unreal Engine-powered displays are gorgeous, but changing modes can be very laggy. Hopefully, this can be fixed with software updates, but it’s a less-than-premium let-down given how much the system has been hyped up.
There’s no head-up display, and the gear shifter is poorly designed, with a park button on top, right where your hand rests when you’re driving down the road. More than once, we got a warning about trying to shift into Park while driving down the highway at 75 mph. The frameless windows look fantastic, but there’s no auto-up function which likely relates to passenger safety somehow.
We also had a noticeable and irritating whistle from the Sky Panels on the highway, something GMC said was not expected. None of the other journalists reported anything similar, but I’d be pretty annoyed if it were my brand new, $100,000 truck.
But all of those complaints are easily looked past when you drive it. The Ultium platform it rides on will underpin all of GM’s future electric cars, and it’s terrific. The bulk of the Hummer is always noticeable, but it handles itself well, as a nightclub bouncer might.
GMC says 70 percent of its 67,000 Hummer EV reservation holders have never owned an EV before, which tells most of the story right there. If this is our electric future, it will win over a lot of skeptics. I can’t wait.