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Auto review: GMC Hummer EV pickup is an elephant in tennis shoes

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

MILFORD, Michigan — The GMC Hummer EV truck is big, bad and surprisingly balletic.

The Detroit News got a rare opportunity behind the wheel of the mega-ute at General Motors’ 4,000-acre Milford Proving Grounds, where it showed off its bag of tricks. Reborn as an electric vehicle 30 years after it invaded U.S. roads as a military-Humvee-turned-SUV, the upcoming GMC Hummer aims to be the General’s halo for a new generation of electron-powered autos.

A halo performance pickup? It's true. The Hummer EV truck, expected to hit dealerships by year's end, is being produced in the automaker's Factory Zero at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center. Overall, GM is investing $35 billion through 2025 in electric and autonomous technologies, and plans to have 30 EVs globally in that time frame.

Brands have used super cars to showcase their best engineering, but battery size (the Hummer reportedly weighs more than 9,000 pounds) can inhibit sports cars compared with their lighter gas peers. Enter the electric super truck, which doesn’t sweat the added weight — and even benefits from the battery pack’s location between chassis frame rails to lower the center of gravity for better handling. Armed with three electric motors, 1,000 horsepower and state-of-the-art electronics, the 2022 First Edition model should come with a cape.

I mashed the accelerator and the Hummer EV’s jaw jutted upward. Then it devoured a gravel and dirt road, evenly distributing torque between its four 35-inch off-road tires. Then this elephant in tennis shoes showed off some circus tricks.

I rotated the beast in a 37-foot circle — equivalent to a much smaller Chevy Equinox — then pitched it through a tight slalom like a sedan.

 

Credit all-wheel-steer that can angle rear wheels up to 10 degrees. It's reminiscent of the Ford Bronco’s Trial Turn Assist, which brakes the inside front wheel to achieve similar results. Turn off Traction Control and Hummer will do dirt doughnuts. The maneuverability is assisted by the Hummer's independent rear suspension — a novelty (the Ford F-150 Lightning EV also has it) among full-size trucks that prefer solid rear axles to maximize towing but sacrifice handling. Hummer's priorities lie elsewhere.

If the original military Humvee was armored for battle, Hummer EV is built for the Outback.

Its extreme suspension travel allows the elephant to hike its skirt 16 inches off the ground (from a normal 10.5), as well as provide a ridiculous 50-inch approach angle to manage tough terrain. In Terrain mode, I utilized 18 camera views — two of them under the truck’s belly — to pick through a rock pile. From the 13.4-inch console screen, I monitored camera views above, below and beside the Hummer.

Inevitable slips off rocks were cushioned by the truck’s sturdy frame rails and full underbody armor. Such capability is familiar to other off-road trucks — Hummer smooths the experience with instant electric torque at my right foot.

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