The Hummer EV Is Huge, Heavy, Ostentatious, and a Lot of Fun
GM never meant the Hummer to be the single greatest truck of all time. It wasn’t meant to be a shining beacon of EV frugality. It doesn’t need to have the nicest interior. It has one job: convert truck folks into EV truck folks.
On the face of it, the Hummer EV makes little sense. It weighs so much it can’t legally cross some bridges, but it has 1000 hp and can still get to 60 in about 3 seconds. It’s so wide that I wasn’t sure it’d make it down my driveway, but it also drives smaller than it looks. It’s a six-figure truck but the interior materials feel like they’re from something that costs more less than half as much. And it’s an EV, but somehow it’s also inefficient. That’s all part of why it’s so effective.
Judging by the first interaction I had while behind the wheel, it’s a success.
I was in the Lincoln Tunnel, a place that can hold the weight of the Hummer because it runs along the bottom of a river, and a new Ford Bronco was next to me. The passenger was taking photos of the Hummer, and both of them gave a knowing nod and a thumbs up. That could be it, the only measure if the Hummer is a successful halo. Thing is, it also can’t be total crap to drive. And, almost shockingly, it isn’t.
A lot of that is down to the novelty of the experience. This is a 9000 pound truck that’s largely similar in dimensions to the older Hummer H2, which is to say it’s quite large and ungainly. It also accelerates quicker than many current sports and supercars, and does it all on 35 inch all-terrain Goodyears. Most of the things it does on road defy how something this size should handle and feel. It’s a huge truck, but doesn’t feel huge. The craziest thing is that it’s not the worst vehicle I’ve ever put through a corner. I don’t want to call it nimble, because that would be a lie, but it does make a truck like the last generation Mercedes G Wagen feel even sketchier than it already did.
The Hummer drives a lot more car-like on the road than you might expect, likely thanks to the low center of gravity given by the huge, 212 kWh battery pack. The Hummer’s pack is nearly double the size of most others on the market, so you’d think that’d imbue it with exceptional range and efficiency, right? Not a chance. It’s rated at 329 miles, which is nearly identical to the 131 kWh pack in the F-150 Lightning. That’s true to Hummers of the past, and will certainly appeal to people who like to waste energy. Big truck buyers, wink wink nudge nudge.
Inside seems to be an homage to the old Hummers. At least, I hope that’s the case. There are a lot of hard plastics as well as other cheap looking materials. It doesn’t feel like a special place, more like you’re paying for the outrageous design, tech, and the giant battery rather than being in any semblance of comfort or luxury.
The good thing is that once you’re off road, it’s silent and pretty much invincible. It made mincemeat of some light trails and dirt roads in the Northeast, even in the regular street mode. Off road modes and adjustable ride height made it even more capable. On our testing ground–trails around a Boy Scout camp that had gone dormant for the winter–it handled the ruts and mud admirably. There was also a lot of water that it splashed through and, in some cases, completely cleared off the road. That’s when the weight came in handy.
While the truck may be a little more than 7 feet wide, it’s also shockingly maneuverable. GM gave it aggressive rear steering that makes the turning circle tiny, letting me make a u-turn on tight parts of the trail as well as navigating around smaller paved roads between camp bunks that may or may not have been sidewalks I accidentally drove on. Thing is, though, the drive mode impacts just how much the rear steer works, and in some modes it’s actually disconcerting. It turns quickly and aggressively, and can make it feel like the back end is about to come around. More than once after blasting through water and applying some corrective lock I felt like the Hummer might actually be out of control.
Get used to it, though, and the Hummer is actually playful. I know, I was shocked too. On wider gravel roads with the traction control off, it’s willing to slide at a tip of the throttle, all 1045 lb-ft of torque ready to go. I found myself running a section over and over again, and actually having fun, while pretending it was the world’s largest stage rally vehicle, kicking up gravel and generally praying that the brakes would be strong enough to stop it if something did go awry.
It can also crabwalk, meaning it can kind of drive diagonally. This is one of those modes you’ll tell people about and demo once or twice, but never touch again. I failed to see any use for it, it’s awkward to engage and drive in, and it’s just a party piece that no other car has for good reason: it’s not useful. It feels like it’s just another part that’s built for marketing purposes. Much like how it looks.
The Hummer sure is recognizable and imposing. They got that right. It looks like an evolution of the old truck, all 90 degree angles and straight lines. If you liked that, you’ll like this. If you hated that and everything it stood for, you’ll feel the same here. The back of this tester was full of two spare tires, rendering the bed useless. The Hummer is also a convertible. The four glass panels can all be removed individually and then stored in special containers in the frunk. The pieces of the top are heavy and awkward to lift, and because they have to be stored in the frunk, there’s effectively no storage other than the backseats in this goliath.
Charging is a whole other thing. Electrify America bays aren’t necessarily built with huge trucks in mind. While Hyundai Ioniq 5s and VW ID4s charged nearby, I had to maneuver this thing into a spot where it’d fit and not impede anyone else, and then get it charged. From 40 to 98 percent charge took about an hour and a half and cost nearly $60. Of course, the cost and time will vary from place to place, since the charging infrastructure is still a bit of a crapshoot, but just fitting a bunch of EV pickups at a local charger will be a feat in itself, and not something that seems to have been planned for.
This truck is absolutely a gimmick. Is it practical in any way? Nope. Not even a little. Will people sneer at it and think it’s a monument to excess? Of course, but that’s exactly what it is.
We are heading for an all-electric future whether we like it or not, and the Hummer will certainly ease the worry of a lot of big truck buyers that EVs can be exciting. That’s why GM went the opposite route of Ford’s practical approach to the new electric F-150. It’s the classic halo vehicle strategy: a lot of stats and features that are great to talk about, but mean little in the real world. They then trickle down to the rest of the lineup through osmosis.
Thing is, this is an EV second and a big American truck first. Americans buy millions of F-150s, Rams, Silverados, and other pickups every year, and they need to be convinced that an electric truck can handle what they need, or just what they think they need. EVs have had to fight range anxiety with ever growing batteries, but that means added weight. They compensated for that with outrageous figures so that now we’re at a point where a nearly five-ton truck gets to 60 in the same amount of time as a Ferrari 458 Spider. It’s madness.
When does it end? Never. Everytime there’s updated, expensive tech, there’ll be another truck or sports car with poor efficiency but outrageous looks or performance. The Hummer was hugely polarizing when it was gas-powered, the entire brand dying out when the economy upended and gas suddenly wasn’t so cheap. That it’s now back as a big, brash, inefficient EV has only intensified the debate around it. Like the last Hummer, this one isn’t meant to save the world. It just needs to sell some electric trucks.
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