If you want an EV that makes sense, you should not buy the GMC Hummer EV. If you want an EV that’s affordable, you should not buy the GMC Hummer EV. If you want an EV that’s efficient or luxurious, you should not buy the GMC Hummer EV.
Is there any reason to spend $110,000 on this ghastly behemoth? I spent a week trying to figure it out, and frankly, I’m still left wondering.
I may refer to the Hummer as gargantuan, but it’s really about the same length as its nearest competitor, the Rivian R1T. It is so much wider, though, that it requires front running lights, and the squat windshield needs three wipers. Sitting behind the wheel, I feel like my passenger is in another time zone. But hey, at least I have my own personal driving space, right?
Is there any reason to spend $110,000 on this ghastly behemoth?
The extreme width means the side blind spots are pretty terrible, so be prepared to use that monitoring system — you’ll need the extra help. Forward visibility is compromised, too, with that short windshield and long hood. I love the digital rear camera mirror with its wide-angle lens, but backing over the two-inch lip from dirt to concrete in my driveway set off the rear emergency brake. I can enthusiastically report that it stops the truck immediately.
But where the Hummer really gets its heftiness is from its weight. The engineers at GMC outfitted the Hummer with a massive 205kWh battery, good for 350 miles of range. All that battery power pushes the truck’s weight north of 9,000 pounds, and I feel every single ounce from the driver’s seat, especially when braking.
Engage the Watts to Freedom, otherwise 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 dead stop to 60mph in a GMC-estimated three seconds. I’m not going to lie — it’s super fun, but stopping is terrifying. The road runs out quickly when your truck is this heavy and can go this fast, so play carefully.
The Edition 1 tester I’ve got is equipped with GM’s Super Cruise advanced driver-assistance system. This hands-free technology can take over the throttle, brakes, and steering as long as the driver keeps their eyes up and the Hummer is on a compatible road. The system can change into a clear left lane on its own to get around slower cars, and it can even detect merging traffic or when a lane ends. However, with the mass of this vehicle, I just don’t trust the braking. Every time I need to stop for sudden traffic, I always take over and brake manually. Perhaps you’ll have a bit more confidence than I did.
The Hummer’s interior skews more toward utility than it does luxury. The dash, center console, and door panels don’t have a shred of leather on them. There are heated and cooled seats, but at this six-figure price tag, I want a massage function, too. I appreciate the removable roof panels, but they sure do cause a lot of wind noise — or possibly that’s just the sound a two-ton tank makes when it moves at freeway speeds. Regardless, this is one noisy EV. Between the aggressive off-road tires and the boxy body, don’t expect to be driving in pure silence.
I’m not going to lie — it’s super fun, but stopping is terrifying
I do like the 13.4-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The graphics here are really cool thanks to the inclusion of the Unreal Engine video game platform from Epic Games. If you want Fortnite-quality graphics, the Hummer provides. GMC is also using 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 steering wheel controls to access different information on said screens.
Hit the dirt
I am an off-roader at heart, so I headed to the desert to tackle some of what Johnson Valley, California, has to offer. This area of the Mojave hosts the infamous King of the Hammers off-road race, and it’s full of some of the gnarliest rocks, whoops, hills, and sand that the desert has to offer.
As I turn off the pavement, the first thing I need to do is let some air out of these 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler tires for a bit more traction and a more comfortable ride. The air down feature here is pretty cool. I just have to set my desired pressure, and the truck will honk when that number is reached. Here, I go for 34psi, down from a street pressure of 49psi. I don’t need to go too low, as I’m not planning on getting into much sand, but with 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 1,000-plus pound-feet of torque coming to the wheels. GMC claims 11,500 lb-ft of torque, which is true but a bit misleading, as it’s the number one comes to after multiplying the motor torque through the gear and axle ratios. Regardless, this mode enables smooth power delivery and sets the rear wheels to turn out of phase with the front for increased maneuverability. The only bummer here is it also adds a fake engine noise. I love off-roading in EVs because I can hear the tires on the sand and the birds in the trees. At least give me the option to turn that fake stuff off.
With a curb weight of over 9,000 pounds, this baby needs all the support it can get
With 13 inches of wheel travel, the Hummer does a pretty good job in the whoops. It’s not as fast as, say, a Ford Raptor, but it’s far from embarrassing. The ride here is pretty smooth as well thanks to the four-wheel independent air suspension.
The rear steering is a game-changer, making the giant truck as nimble as a midsize offering. I don’t have a situation that requires Crab Walk, but I try it out anyway. You know… for the story, definitely not because it’s the weirdest sensation feeling the truck move both forward and sideways at the same time. It’s a good party trick but can also be useful when the trail gets tight.
There are some small sand dunes out here, but I’m traveling alone, and frankly, I don’t want to dig. I’ve wheeled a 6,000-pound Rivian in soft sand, and it was difficult. If you want to take your Hummer out in the dunes, bring a friend who has a winch. With a truck this heavy, nobody is pulling you out with a rope if you get stuck. You’re either digging or winching, likely both.
Instead, I decide to take the Hummer up Heartbreak Hill. This 20-degree slope starts with loose rocks at the bottom, transitioning into tire-shredding rocks embedded into the hillside as you climb toward the top.
Here’s where the Hummer starts to disappoint. I switch to Terrain mode to extract 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’s not.
Everything is fine — until it’s not
The front tires lose grip trying to find purchase on the rocks, and I come to a stop. No problem, I think, as I have yet to engage the front locker, and I have massive amounts of torque available to pull me up the hill. I depress the front locker button and… nothing. I do it again and get nada. I stab the front locker button with the fierceness of a hungry wolf gnashing at a cute little bunny, and it refuses to engage. Well, shit.
I roll slowly on the throttle and move my steering wheel back and forth, trying to find traction, and it’s a no-go. I’m here, stopped, looking at nothing but sky through the windshield on a steep and rocky hill, and I’m alone. Fantastic.
There is nothing to do but back down the hill. Normally, I would be loath to do this, as 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’m able to slowly but safely maneuver down the hill to a place where I can turn around and leave Heartbreak Hill in my digital rearview mirror.
I find out later that engaging the front locker requires a button push of five seconds. Hold up, what? I’ve wheeled plenty of vehicles with front lockers. The Ram Power Wagon, Chevrolet ZR2, Jeep Wrangler, and the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, to name a few. None of them have required a five-second button push to engage the front locker. In fact, most of them engage within one second. If I need the front locker, I need it now, not five seconds from now.
The front tires lose grip trying to find purchase on 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 does not have a spare tire. GMC says it’s a packaging problem, but frankly, this is an egregious mistake. One of the most common failures off-road is a flat tire, and there is only so much a plug kit or Fix-a-Flat can do.
The nonefficient 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 some 2,000 pounds or so heavier than the Rivian R1T, thanks to that giant battery, but doesn’t even return significantly more range. The Hummer is rated for 329 miles, but the Rivian’s smaller 135kWh battery can last for 314 miles, and I don’t feel like I need a runway to bring it to a stop.
I manage a paltry 0.9 mi/kWh during my off-road excursion in the Hummer. Meanwhile, I’ve spent ample time off-road in the Rivian and averaged 1.6 mi/kWh, and that included soft dunes. That’s the Hummer’s average on the street. The Rivian? You’re looking at around 2.3 mi/kWh on the pavement.
In ideal conditions, the Hummer can take full advantage of 350kW charging, adding 100 miles worth of electrons in just 10 minutes. However, you need to make sure the battery is preconditioned, and you’ll have to find a DC fast charger capable of delivering that quick of a charge. Filling up at home is fairly speedy with the 11.5kW onboard charger, but with a battery this big, expect to keep your rig plugged in and charging for 12 hours.
It’s tough to justify spending $110,000, including $1,595 for delivery, on an EV that is so grossly inefficient. In my home state of California, Electrify America currently charges 43 cents per kWh for nonmembers. Charging overnight at home cost me 38 cents per kWh. It’s cheaper than gas, to be sure, but there are other EVs out there, like the Rivian R1T, that spend those electrons more wisely and are less expensive to boot.
Sure, the Hummer EV has that cool rear-wheel steering, but that’s really the only worthwhile party trick. In the end, it’s too heavy and big for a lot of trails, the front locker doesn’t engage fast enough, and it doesn’t have a spare tire. Add the lack of confident brakes, and you’re looking at an EV that’s best left in the dealer’s lot.
Photography by Emme Hall for The Verge