If you want an EV that makes sense, don’t buy the GMC Hummer EV. If you want an EV that’s affordable, don’t buy the GMC Hummer EV. If you want an EV that is efficient or luxurious, don’t buy the GMC Hummer EV.
Is there any reason to spend $110,000 on this gruesome behemoth? It took me a week to figure it out, and honestly I’m still wondering.
I can refer to the Hummer as gigantic, but it’s really about the same length as its closest competitor, the Rivian R1T. However, it is so much wider that it requires running lights at the front and the squat windshield requires three wipers. When I’m behind the wheel, I feel like my passenger is in a different time zone. But hey, at least I have my own personal riding space, right?
Is there any reason to spend $110,000 on this gruesome behemoth?
Due to the extreme width, the side blind spots are pretty awful, so be prepared to use that surveillance system – you’ll need the extra help. Forward visibility is also compromised by that short windshield and long bonnet. I love the digital rear-view camera mirror with its wide-angle lens, but backing over the two-inch dirt-to-concrete edge in my driveway set the rear emergency brake on. Enthusiastically I can report that the truck immediately stops.
But where the Hummer really gets its sturdiness is its weight. GMC engineers equipped the Hummer with a huge 205 kWh battery, good for a range of 350 miles. All that battery power pushes the truck’s weight north of 9,000 pounds, and I feel every ounce from the driver’s seat, especially under braking.
Activate Watts to Freedom mode, also known as WTF mode (no, I’m not kidding – that’s what GMC calls it), and the three electric motors unleash all 1,000 horsepower, propelling the truck from a standstill to 60 mph in a GMC – estimated three seconds. I’m not going to lie – it’s super fun, but quitting is terrifying. The road narrows quickly when your truck is that heavy and can go that fast, so play carefully.
The Edition 1 tester I have is equipped with GM’s Super Cruise advanced driver assistance system. This hands-free technology can take over the throttle, braking and steering as long as the driver keeps their eyes up and the Hummer is on a compatible road. The system can automatically switch to a clear left lane to avoid slower cars, and it can even detect merging traffic or when a lane ends. But with the mass of this vehicle, I just don’t trust the braking. Whenever I have to stop for sudden traffic, I always take the wheel and brake manually. Maybe you’re a little more confident than I am.
The Hummer’s interior leans more towards practicality than luxury. The dashboard, center console and door panels have not an ounce of leather. There are heated and cooled seats, but for this six-figure price tag, I also want a massage function. I appreciate the removable roof panels, but they certainly create a lot of wind noise – or maybe that’s just the sound a two-ton tank makes when traveling at highway speeds. Either way, this is a noisy EV. Between the aggressive off-road tires and boxy body, don’t expect to ride in pure silence.
I’m not going to lie – it’s super fun, but quitting is terrifying
I like the 13.4-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The graphics here are really cool thanks to the inclusion of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine video game platform. If you want Fortnite-quality graphics, the Hummer offers. GMC also uses some of Google’s built-in software, so Google Maps is included. The slightly smaller digital gauge cluster has a few different configurations, and it’s easy to use the controls on the handlebars to access various information on said screens.
Hit the dirt
I’m an off-roader at heart, so I headed to the desert to tackle what Johnson Valley, California, has to offer. This section of the Mojave is home to the infamous King of the Hammers off-road race, and it’s packed with some of the gnarliest rocks, whoops, hills, and sand the desert has to offer.
When I leave the sidewalk, the first thing I should do is let some air out of these 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler tires for a little more traction and a more comfortable ride. The air-down feature is pretty cool here. I just need to set my desired pressure and the truck will honk when that number is reached. Here I am going for 34 psi, lower than a street pressure of 49 psi. I don’t need to go too low since I don’t plan on getting into a lot of sand, but at a curb weight of over 9,000 pounds, this baby needs all the support it can get.
I switch to Off Road mode, which keeps all the 1,000-plus pound-feet of torque getting to the wheels. GMC claims 11,500 lb-ft of torque, which is true, but a little misleading since it ranks number one after multiplying engine torque by gear and axle ratios. Either way, this mode provides smooth power delivery and allows the rear wheels to spin out of phase with the front for greater maneuverability. The only flaw here is that it also adds a fake engine noise. I like off-roading in electric cars because I can hear the tires on the sand and the birds in the trees. At least give me the option to turn off that fake stuff.
With a curb weight of over 9,000 pounds, this baby needs all the support he can get
With 13 inches of travel, the Hummer does a pretty good job. It’s not as fast as, say, a Ford Raptor, but it’s far from embarrassing. The ride here is also quite smooth thanks to the four-wheel independent air suspension.
The rear steering is a game changer, making the giant truck as nimble as a mid-sized offering. I don’t have a situation that calls for Crab Walk, but I’ll try anyway. You know…for the story, especially since it’s the weirdest sensation to feel the truck move both forward and sideways at the same time. It’s a good party trick, but can also come in handy when the trail gets tight.
There are some small sand dunes here, but I’m traveling alone and frankly I don’t feel like digging. I rode a 6000-pound Rivian in soft sand and it was hard. If you want to hit the dunes with your Hummer, bring a friend who has a winch. With such a heavy truck, no one pulls you out with a rope if you get stuck. You are either digging or lifting, probably both.
Instead, I decide to take the Hummer up Heartbreak Hill. This 20-degree incline starts with loose rocks at the bottom and progresses to tire-shredding rocks embedded in the hillside as you climb to the top.
This is where the Hummer begins to disappoint. I switch to Terrain mode to get the most performance on this rocky slope. I lock the rear differential for more traction and head up the hill. Everything is fine – until it is no longer so.
Everything is fine – until it is no longer so
The front tires lose traction as they try to grip the rocks, and I come to a stop. No problem, I guess, as I’ve yet to engage the front cabinet and have massive amounts of torque available to pull me up the hill. I press the button on the front box and… nothing. I do it again and get nada. I slam the button on the front locker with the ferocity of a hungry wolf snarling at a cute little bunny, and it refuses to intervene. Well shit.
I slowly roll on the accelerator and wiggle my steering wheel back and forth, trying to find traction, and it’s a no-go. I’ve stopped here, looking at nothing but the sky through the windshield on a steep and rocky hill, and I’m alone. Fantastic.
There is nothing for it but to descend the hill again. Normally I wouldn’t like to do this because backing down a steep hill with weight on the rear tires means your steering is almost useless. GMC’s four-wheel steering saves the day, though, and I can slowly but safely maneuver down the hill to a spot where I can turn around and exit Heartbreak Hill in my digital rearview mirror.
I later find out that turning on the front locker requires a five second press of the button. Wait a minute, what? I’ve driven many vehicles with lockers in the front. The Ram Power Wagon, Chevrolet ZR2, Jeep Wrangler and the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, just to name a few. No of them needed a five second press of the button to activate the front box. In fact, most of them get to work within a second. If I need the front locker, I need it now, not in five seconds.
The front tires lose traction as they try to grip the rocks, and I come to a stop
Although it might have been for the best. I’m sure the rig could have conquered Heartbreak Hill with the front locker engaged, but the embedded rocks at the top are pretty gnarly and the Hummer has no spare tire. GMC says it’s a packaging issue, but frankly, this is a gross mistake. One of the most common failures off-road is a flat tire, and there’s only so much a plug kit or Fix-a-Flat can do.
The inefficient EV
What kills the Hummer for me is its efficiency, or lack thereof. GMC has reached the point of diminishing returns when it comes to battery size and weight. It’s about 2,000 pounds or so heavier than the Rivian R1T, thanks to that giant battery, but doesn’t even provide significantly more range. The Hummer is rated for 329 miles, but the Rivian’s smaller 135 kWh battery can last 314 miles, and I don’t feel like I need a runway to bring it to a stop.
I get a paltry 0.9 mph during my off-road excursion in the Hummer. Meanwhile, I spent a lot of time off-road in the Rivian and averaged 2.6 km/kWh, including soft dunes. That’s the Hummer average on the street. The Rivian? You’re looking at about 2.3 miles/kWh on pavement.
In ideal conditions, the Hummer can take full advantage of a 350 kW charge, adding 100 miles of electrons in just 10 minutes. However, you need to make sure that the battery is prepared and you will have to find a DC fast charger that can charge that fast. Refueling at home is fairly quick with the built-in 11.5kW charger, but with such a large battery you can expect your rig to stay plugged in and charge for 12 hours.
It’s hard to justify spending $110,000, including $1,595 for delivery, on an EV this massively inefficient. In my home state of California, Electrify America currently charges 43 cents per kWh for non-members. Charging at home at night cost me 38 cents per kWh. It’s certainly cheaper than gas, but there are other EVs, like the Rivian R1T, that spend those electrons more wisely and are cheaper to boot.
Sure, the Hummer EV has that cool rear-wheel steering, but that’s really its only worthwhile party trick. In the end, it’s too heavy and big for many trails, doesn’t engage the front box fast enough, and doesn’t have a spare tire. Add in the lack of confident braking, and you’re looking at an EV best left on the dealer’s lot.
Photography by Emme Hall for Acutely