The 2022 GMC Hummer EV Pickup is one of the most hotly anticipated electric vehicles coming in the next few years. With shocking performance, mountain goat off-road capability and loads of innovative features, this reborn Hummer is set to smash drivers’ expectations like the Kool-Aid man crashing through an unsuspecting brick wall. Though, the truck is so bulky and powerful it would have no trouble doing the same thing.
Edition 1 engineering mule
Along with the Hummer SUV and Cadillac Lyriq, this pickup is spearheading GM’s all-electric charge (so to speak). This top-shelf Edition 1 engineering test mule features all the bells and whistles available, from four-wheel steering to an adjustable air suspension system to the provocatively named Watts to Freedom performance mode.
Edition 1 models feature a three-motor drivetrain that delivers 1,000 horsepower and around 1,200 pound-feet of torque (not 11,500, just like we said). This truck rolls on 35-inch mud tires and it’s shielded by rock rails and a phalanx of underbody skid plates. To put it through its paces, GM allowed me to drive this beast on both an off-road circuit and a paved handling course. The company even demonstrated how quickly it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph. Spoiler alert: It’s astonishing.
An off-road monster
Matching its aggressive styling, the new Hummer EV Pickup delivers incredible off-road performance. With loads of suspension travel, more cameras than a television studio — including one looking underneath the body — and a full-time four-wheel-drive system, this truck should be able to go just about anywhere it fits, which is more places than you might think thanks to four-wheel steering.
My test drive starts on a section of loose gravel, like nearly any backcountry road. Drew Mitchell, vehicle performance engineer at GM and my chaperone on this outing, instructs me to switch the center console-mounted control dial over to the off-road driving mode, which is designed for loose surfaces and trails. It allows some wheel slip and a bit more yaw from the body, but traction control remains on so you don’t veer off into a ditch. Once the vehicle ahead is clear, Mitchell tells me to punch it so I oblige. The Hummer leaps ahead with fury, the tires scratching for traction the entire time until I let off. This impressive stuff is just a taste of what’s to come.
The reborn Hummer has a rock-solid feel.
After this drag strip run, I round a bend and climb a steep but manageable hill, pausing at the top. Mitchell extolls the virtues of Hummer’s UltraVision 360-degree camera system and how it can save your bacon out on the trail. The truck’s broad, flat hood may give it commanding presence on the road, but in certain situations it blocks your forward visibility. This is where those available 18 camera views come into play. They eliminate the need to hang your head out the window or send someone else ahead as a spotter. Thanks to the underbody camera, which can see both forward and back and comes with an integrated washer nozzle, I can see the bottom of the hill and any potential obstacles long before the hood is gone from my line of sight.
Obviously, the new Hummer truck is a big, heavy vehicle — GM won’t confirm, but rumor has it this monster eclipses the 9,000-pound mark. Given its exterior dimensions and curb-crushing weight, you might think this truck would be a nightmare to maneuver, but you’d be wrong. The available four-wheel steering means it can turn as tightly as a small hatchback. Snaking this mammoth Hummer through a low-speed slalom course illustrates this perfectly, the truck’s huge hiney swinging around obediently, dancing around the cones. This four-wheel-steering effect, which is amplified in the Terrain driving mode, feels totally alien at first, but it makes the vehicle so much more manageable, you quickly get used to it.
When it’s time to scale some boulders, the Hummer EV Pickup is more than up to the challenge. This Edition 1 prototype features an adaptive air suspension system that provides about 6 inches of vertical adjustability. Maxed out, this vehicle has almost 13 inches of suspension travel and nearly 16 inches of ground clearance when the available Extract Mode is engaged.
Switch the Hummer over to Terrain mode, which is perfect for rock crawling, and the body lifts so you’re less likely to get hung up. The accelerator response also gets noticeably softer so it’s less jumpy as you’re navigating the tough stuff. When you lift your foot off the go-pedal, the Hummer also rolls to a stop and holds itself there, similar to a one-pedal driving mode. This can be helpful in certain off-road situations where you drive with both feet; when Terrain mode is engaged, you don’t necessarily need to do that, making things a little easier.
The Hummer EV is as happy on-road as it is off.
Undoubtedly, one of this truck’s most impressive parlor tricks is its ability to crab walk. Pressing and holding the four-wheel-steer button on the console for a few seconds enables this agility-enhancing function. At low speeds, crab walk allows the truck to move at an angle while driving forward, which can be helpful in tight conditions on narrow trails or if you need to literally sidestep an obstacle.
Mitchell has me experience this on a straight section of dirt. While driving at 10 to 15 mph, I simply turn the wheel gently left to right and the Hummer effortlessly glides from one side of the pathway to the other while the body remains parallel to the road. This is an incredibly weird sensation, almost like driving on ice because the rear of the truck isn’t doing what you’d normally expect. I can’t imagine most Hummer owners ever using crab walk beyond showing it off once or twice to friends and neighbors, but it’s a neat feature and one that could certainly prove useful in rare situations out on the trail.
Ready for the Starbucks drive-thru
But let’s be honest, probably 97.8% of owners will never take their Hummer across a boulder field or through belly-deep mud. Pavement is where these all-electric beasts will spend their days — that and the Starbucks drive-thru. Accordingly, engineers worked hard to make this truck refined and comfortable.
In yo’ face.
I experience the Hummer EV pickup’s everyday livability on GM’s handling course. The portion I’m driving on resembles an older section of country two-lane road, with lots of cracks and broken asphalt. There are a few decently tight corners and some obvious, but not overwhelming surface undulations that allow me to exercise the chassis a little.
My truck handles those irregularities with ease. Its body remains stable while driving over the rippling surface. Even large suspension inputs do nothing to perturb this Hummer, which shrugs off even gnarly bumps taken at vengeful speed. Thanks to the structural battery pack under my feet and the body-frame-integral structure — think of this as a cross between unibody and body-on-frame construction — this truck feels as stiff as reinforced concrete and, unfortunately, nearly as heavy.
With 1,000 hp on tap, the Hummer EV Pickup runs like an Olympic sprinter, but there is no hiding its bulk. This truck feels gargantuan from behind the wheel and especially while navigating corners. I didn’t get much time on the handling course, but this engineering mule’s steering is vague and the truck doesn’t seem very eager to navigate turns or change directions. I won’t proclaim judgment until after I drive a production model that hasn’t been battered by engineers for who knows how long, though.
WTF? Watts to Freedom
Watts to Freedom is arguably this new Hummer’s most impressive trick. A performance acceleration mode, it allows the truck to rocket from a standstill to 60 mph in about 3 seconds, a supercar-rivaling assault on your senses. When it’s time to experience WTF, I regrettably swap seats with Mitchell as media are not allowed to unleash this vehicle’s full fury, at least not yet.
3… 2… 1… blastoff!
To engage this not-for-street-use-but-who’s-going-to-find-out-if-you-use-it-in-a-school-zone driving mode, double-click the traction-control button on the center stack. This lowers the ride height and primes the drivetrain. Next, hold the brake pedal down and bury the accelerator. The haptic seat starts vibrating and the cabin fills with a humming noise to build anticipation. Then release the binders, preferably after telling your passenger to hold on tight. The Hummer responds with the violence of a strategic bombing raid, throwing you back into the seat and causing your organs to squirm. This is the kind of brutal acceleration that takes your breath away for a second or two, and it’s astonishing to experience in a vehicle this massive.
A promising first impression
The 2022 GMC Hummer EV Pickup proves our electrified automotive future doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, for some, it’s going to be boxy and rugged and very, very quick. In motion, this prototype truck is refined and incredibly capable. It handles well for its prodigious girth and the acceleration offered — especially in WTF mode — is simply astonishing. After experiencing it firsthand, I can’t say any of this surprises me. GM promised supertruck performance, and it sure as hell seems the automaker has delivered.
Engineering work is undoubtedly still underway, but the first Edition 1 models are expected to land in customer hands before year’s end. Reservations for this inaugural trim sold out minutes after it became available, even with a price tag of around $113,000. Of course, you won’t have to spend quite that much to get a Hummer EV Pickup. The entry-level trim model scheduled to go on sale in early 2024 starts at around $80,000 and offers more than 250 miles of range with 625 hp. Regardless of the model, based on my first impressions, this Hummer is the real deal and will shock a lot of people once it hits the road.