2023 GMC Hummer EV Pickup Review

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We test drive the biggest, wildest electric 4×4 you can buy that comes from the reinvented GMC Hummer brand.

The GMC Hummer EV Pickup is the sort of machine you look at and don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s a big, brash, electric off-roader that’s exuberantly over-engineered, with performance figures as monstrous as its styling.

In its highest spec, such as this Edition 1 model, it features a tri-motor powertrain that offers 745kW, along with enough torque (15,640Nm) to tear a hole in the space-time continuum. Which is just as well, because thanks to its beefy body and double-stacked 212kWh battery pack, it weighs 4111kg. Which, for comparison, is almost two Toyota LandCruisers.

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It’s incredible to behold, truly pushing the capabilities of EV technology. But still, in an age when the car industry is focusing on efficiency and reduction, it’s fair to ask: is the Hummer EV really necessary? Or even sensible?

Maybe not, but then again consider the likely target audience for this machine. People won’t be choosing between a Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Hummer. It’s designed to win over buyers who want a big machine with true off-road capability. The sort of person who might buy a Mercedes-AMG G63 or a 6.2-litre V8-powered Chevrolet Silverado pick-up, or even placed a deposit for a Tesla Cybertruck with serious intent.

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Besides, the over-engineering in the Hummer has allowed parent company General Motors to really push development of the new Ultium EV platform it’s built on, allowing it to quickly roll out far more practical vehicles. Much of the Hummer’s underpinnings, for example, have been used for the new Brightdrop Zevo 600 electric delivery van. The Cadillac Lyriq prevmium SUV is also based on the architecture.

We should caveat that our first running in a Hummer EV was very limited, and entirely off-road on a special closed course at GM’s Milford Proving Ground in Michigan. So we can’t offer any judgement on the Hummer EV’s on-road manners or performance. But our running did give us a flavour of the capabilities of the machine.

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Certainly, you get an idea of what to expect from the styling. The design inspiration from the original Hummer brand – a range of Humvee-based military vehicles that achieved cult popularity in the late 1990s – is clear. The angular styling speaks to no-nonsense practicality and the military vehicle lineage, although the lit-up Hummer light bar on the front brings a hint of electric modernism.

At launch the Hummer is launching with a pick-up – key for the US market – with a boxier, bulkier SUV variant to follow soon after. There’s currently no plan to bring it to Australia, although the local appetite for pick-up trucks and EVs don’t make it seem far-fetched.

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The styling makes the machine look even bigger than it is – and at 5507mm long, 2201mm high and 2009mm high it’s pretty big. Much of the height is due to that mammoth battery pack, which features 24 modules. While it adds to the heft, the 212kWh unit means that the Hummer has an estimated range of the US test cycle of 529km. It can also be charged at 350kW.

Make the long clamber up into the interior and you’ll quickly spot the inspiration from the original Hummer. Much like the modern Mercedes-Benz G-Class it’s a fusion of militaristic boxy styling with a dash of premium charm. The controls and switchgear are tactile, sturdy and practical, and the dashboard and large, fixed centre console are a little imposing in their scale.

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It’s not entirely retro, of course: there’s a big central touchscreen which controls many of the car’s key features. The infotainment system features a number of fun graphics, for example showing a Hummer driving on the moon, which add to the feel of a car that knows it’s not entirely sensible.

Predictably, the Hummer offers ridiculous levels of performance. The Edition 1 model we tried featured the top-spec tri-motor powertrain, with one motor on the front axle and independent motors for each rear wheel. Even on loose gravel, the Hummer is propelled forward with scant regard for the laws on physics, and it’s not until you go to brake and turn into a corner that you’re reminding you’re driving a four-tonne pick-up. Even then, the excess of power available is enough to overcome any hint of mass-induced understeer you might feel.

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The Hummer’s power isn’t purely about making it fast, though: GMC has used it to give the machine incredible capability. The armour-lined underside and adaptive air suspension offer tremendous off-road ability – we clambered rock-strewn hills and traversed huge bumps with ease.

The electric drivetrain plays a key part in its undoubted off-road ability, too: there are multiple drive modes, headed by Watts to Freedom mode (or WTF for short…), and the tri-motor set-up gives the ability to distribute torque to each wheel as needed.

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That freedom, combined with all-wheel-steering, also enables the Hummer EV’s party trick: it can crab walk. In practice, it matches the angle of the front and rear wheels, enabling the Hummer to move diagonally. It’s surreal in practice, and also useful, allowing the Hummer to duck around obstacles it would otherwise be unable to steer around.

Frankly, though, you can probably drive over most obstacles. And given the high riding position, when traversing big bumps you’ll be glad that the Hummer offers a front-facing camera that can give you a view between the front wheels.

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Of course, if you live in Australia and tempted by a desire to thread the Hummer down our roads, the obvious caveat is that the Hummer EV isn’t offered for sale here. General Motors is gearing up for a return to the European market, and there are suggestions that the Hummer could be part of its line-up – although its size and weight could well preclude that. Even if it somehow does reach right-hand drive production, you’d want to think very carefully about paying a premium for an electric car that would offer limitations in usage due to its dimensions, and which you’re unlikely to ever really use to its full capability.

Essentially, in top-spec mode (lower-powered front-drive versions are coming) the GMC Hummer EV is over-engineered to an almost absurd level. Is it sensible? No. Is it capable? Oh hell yes. If you need an EV for a daily driver, this is not it. But if you’re looking for an EV to survive the nuclear apocalypse, you’re in luck (although good luck finding somewhere to charge it after one).

James Attwood

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We test drive the biggest, wildest electric 4x4 you can buy that comes from the reinvented GMC Hummer brand. The GMC Hummer EV Pickup is the sort of machine you look at and don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s a big, brash, electric...2023 GMC Hummer EV Pickup Review