2022 GMC Hummer EV Prototype First Drive Review: Truck Yeah!

We got a first taste of what it is like behind the wheel of the 2022 gmc hummer ev pickup truck and it is a mouthful. There is a lot of Hummer to move (about 9,000 pounds, in fact). Factor in the trio of electric motors, the 24-module battery pack, and all the bells and whistles included in the 2022 gmc hummer ev Edition 1 launch model, and this is a massive truck.

General Motors relishes it. The Hummer has been reinvented as a battery electric vehicle under the GMC brand, but it remains true to its roots as a huge, off-road-capable beast. Nothing delicate about it. With two motors in the rear and one in front, the truck packs 1,000 hp and gobs of torque. GM cites torque as 11,000 lb-ft measured at the wheel, however, MotorTrend‘s math puts it at closer to 1,045 lb-ft measured at the shaft.

Range is estimated at 350 miles on a single charge. The only electric pickup truck on the market right now, the smaller 2022 Rivian R1T, has four motors, one inboard motor for each wheel to drive it directly, all of which generate a total of 835 hp and 908 lb-ft of torque. With its standard 135-kWh battery pack with nine modules, the Rivian R1T has an EPA-rated range of 314 miles and can tow up to 11,000 pounds. The R1T weighs in at 6,950 pounds.

The Hummer was engineered to be a supertruck, an off-road beast that will go from 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds (Rivian has the same claim, while the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning will need about 4.4 seconds). MotorTrend was among the first outsiders invited to GM’s Milford Proving Ground in Michigan for an “engineering drive” of some prototype trucks. We spent a short time on some dirt and boulders, the high-speed circle, and the handling course for a sample of what the truck can do.

The sheer weight of the 4.5-ton Hummer likely means payload and towing will not be its strongest attributes, but it does have a standard trailer hitch in anticipation of buyers with active lifestyles. There are plug-ins for auxiliary cameras for trailering and the Hummer will have the same ProGrade trailering system as the 2021 GMC Sierra full-size pickup. Hummer towing and payload figures have not been released but GMC officials say the Hummer team focused on tech and extreme off-road capability; the buyer who wants a work truck with greater towing and payload would be better served by the Sierra.

So, what are the superpowers of this $112,595 truck?

Watts to Freedom (WTF)

Watts to Freedom (WTF) is an experience you won’t get tired of. This is essentially a launch mode but with the theatrics of enhanced seats to feel the movie you are watching. Double-tap the stability control button and accept it (a single tap disengages it). The truck’s air suspension lowers the body, the electronics condition the powertrain and battery pack for optimal performance.

The driver and front passenger are prepped as well: The seat vibrates, the sound (from Epic Games, the same company that worked on Marvel movies) builds, the screen tells you to mash the brake and accelerator to arm it, then release the brake and … you’re off. Three seconds later you hit 60 mph.

“That to me is why we call it a supertruck,” performance engineer Todd Hubbard said. “It is capable of stuff that you wouldn’t expect this vehicle to do. The off-road attributes are crazy and it can do 0-60 in 3.0 seconds. Those are attributes that are the polar opposite of what you would think you could do with the vehicle.”

Crab Walk

This is a cool party trick. The truck has active rear steering that allows the front and rear wheels to move in the same direction, resulting in a diagonal crab walk to get out of tight situations. While most vehicles with four-wheel steering have about 3.0 degrees of rear steer, the rear wheels on the Hummer can crank up to 10 degrees in the same direction, giving this behemoth a 35.4-foot turning circle, similar to that of a compact Chevrolet Bolt.

Press and hold the four-wheel steering button on the console for five seconds to activate it; an icon on the driver screen indicates CrabWalk is on. Seesaw the steering wheel a bit to return it to center so the rear steering can get its bearings.

Once engaged, the Hummer seemingly glides in the direction it’s pointed. The sensation is otherworldly satisfying and massively cool. The diagonal travel will start to blend out as you pick up speed and fades out when you approach about 20 mph.

Super Cruise Changes Lanes for You

The Hummer will be the first vehicle to get the latest version of Super Cruise, GM’s Level 2 hands-free driving assist system. GM recently added automated lane changes when prompted by the turn signal to Super Cruise, however, in the 2022 gmc hummer ev, you can set the system’s lane change to an automatic mode. With it engaged, the Hummer is capable of looking for an opening in traffic, execute the pass, and then return to its original lane—all without any driver input.

This abdication of control might take some getting used to. Nervous drivers can turn off the feature and instead use the signal stalk to initiate an automated lane change.

Speed to Market Was Key

To get it to market quickly and ride the hype wave surrounding electric pickup trucks, the Hummer underwent a speedy development process. On April 1, 2019, Hummer EV chief engineer Al Oppenheiser and his team were challenged by senior leadership to create a better electric truck architecture. They decided to create a supertruck—the best off-roader out there.

Now, nearly three years later, test vehicles are running around. Production of saleable units is about to begin and the first Edition 1 units (all painted white with a black-painted upper) will be in customers’ hands before the end of the year. For context, it usually takes four years to get a vehicle from concept to production. The team took 117 weeks out of the development time, trusting math and computer simulations, as opposed to building a bunch of prototypes and testing them in the real world.

Off-Road Prowess Sought

“We went after this as an off-road beast first,” Oppenheiser said of the truck. As such, the battery pack is a structural element of the chassis in lieu of rails. The result is a flat underbody with five skid plates and rocker protectors; there is nothing hanging down to get hung up on the trail. The standard running board does not come off but was designed to take a beating. There are big beefy tow hooks front and rear. Yet, the blue LED bars in the headlights that light up to show the state of battery charge telegraph that this is not a conventional off-road vehicle.

At the proving ground, we switched to Terrain mode for more ground clearance and aggressive rear steering to traverse more difficult terrain using just our right foot. In the truck’s default mode, the Hummer’s rear wheels move 0.3 degree for every degree the front wheels turn. In its more off-road-focused mode, the Hummer’s rear wheels move 0.6 degree for every degree the front wheels turn to facilitate better maneuverability.

We crawled over some giant boulders where the heavy Hummer scraped and lunged, but its skid plates did their jobs and all remained intact. Ground clearance is 15.9 inches, beating the Rivian, and the truck can safely ford about 32 inches of water, engineers told us. Extract mode, which raises the truck a further 2.0 inches, will be an over-the-air update that comes to the truck later in the 2022 model year.

Lockers Dial the Hummer to 11

With torque available immediately (and delivered smoothly) and regen for braking, EVs are well-suited for off-roading as there’s no need to constantly switch drive modes, swap cogs, lock and unlock differential locks, or switch to low range. But the Hummer still has a button for the front e-locker to unlock the left and right wheels. There is also a button for the virtual rear locker. Although there is no mechanical link between the two rear motors, the software is calibrated to lock their speeds to act like they are coupled.

If you need more traction in the rear, you can press a button to limit the spin of the tire not getting traction. Hubbard said drivers, even tackling Moab, may never need a locker, but the inclusion shows the lengths to which Hummer has gone. “This is like going from 10 to 11. It just gives you a little bit more. Because it’s a super truck, we have enhanced capability.”

The Hummer is fitted with 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler mud-terrain tires developed specifically for the truck. There are 18 camera views, including four positioned under the vehicle to act as virtual spotters. Press the wash button to clean them of mud and debris. On a hill where the nose was pointed skyward, the camera showed the terrain ahead as well as under the truck via the touchscreen. There are also bird’s eye views.

For comparison, the Rivian has 11 cameras, none of them under the vehicle. The Hummer’s My Mode allows for customized settings, including sound enhancement, which can be set so the driver can hear the tires spinning off-road. The Fun mode is ideal for drifting in the dirt, allowing the back end to step out. The truck will even record and display your max drift.

Airing Up and Down With the Hummer

To air down the Hummer’s tires for off-roading, one only needs to go to the off-road app in the truck’s center stack and set the target deflation pressure. A clever feature is that the horn honks when a tire reaches the set pressure. You have to inflate the tires yourself and supply your own compressor and hose, but the horn will honk when each tire is full, too.

The Rivian R1T ups the ante: it comes with an onboard compressor built into the bedside, as well as a hose. Select the pressure, hit start, and watch the readout of its progress until it turns itself off at the desired pressure.

One-pedal driving on the Hummer can be set to always be on when you start the vehicle. A paddle on the left side of the steering wheel allows you to choose how much brake regen you want; it increases appreciably the longer you hold the paddle down. The highest setting works best for crawling off-road at low speeds.

Various digital gauges show where the truck’s wheels are in their travel. They also show the Hummer automatically lowering an inch as it hits 65 mph—as a way of improving aerodynamics—as well as when the suspension is raised for off-road driving. Set the vehicle to “easy exit” for it to automatically lower 2.0 inches when stopped.

On-Road Hummer

We also got a taste of how the Hummer EV handles bumps and imperfections doing 65 mph on a ride and handling road. The vehicle has ample suspension travel to absorb it all, too. With its low-mounted battery, the pickup is stable and there was virtually no body roll as we cruised through the loop’s mild turns. While the Hummer EV has plenty of grunt and a cushioned ride, it still feels like a heavy vehicle from the driver’s seat.

Inside the Hummer EV Edition 1 is a high-end sea of black and white. The dash has a 13.4-inch screen with cool animations by Epic for each mode. Overhead, there are also four glass roof panels that can be removed and stored in the frunk. The panels are incredibly easy to take off: unhook two latches and lift. They are not heavy and removal is literally done in seconds. When it is time to restore the roof, the panels are easy to place back in position: Redo the two latches, and you are done. The T-bar between the panels also comes off and can be stored. The frunk and tailgate are both powered to open and close via the key fob, a button inside the cab, or by tapping the exterior panels.

Pricewise, the $112,595 Hummer EV Edition 1 is seriously undercut by the F-150 Lightning, which starts at $41,669. Meanwhile, the R1T Launch Edition starts at $74,145, although a lower-priced $68,645 Explore trim will follow next year. GMC will introduce lower-priced trim levels over the next few years, culminating in the base Hummer EV2, which goes on sale in 2024 with a starting price of $79,995.

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