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Henry Payne: The Hummer EV SUV is a crabwalking, neck-snapping, off-roading, mobile charging station

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

SAN FRANCISCO — Once upon time, Detroit automakers debuted crazy concept vehicles for auto shows like the six-wheeled Chrysler Voyager III and the V10-powered Tomahawk motorcycle and the 16-cylinder Cadillac Sixteen coupe.

Now, crazy gets put into production.

Behold the all-electric, 8,800-pound 2023 GMC Hummer SUV circus act in my hands. Four-wheel steer! 830 horsepower! Thirteen-inch suspension travel! Super Cruise drive assist! Zero-60 mph in a neck-snapping, Watts-to-Freedom-mode 3.5 seconds!

If you can afford this $105,000 calliope, you should park it in the neighborhood square like a playground attraction and schedule regular hours to show it off. Kids will love it.

With a looooooong press of the rotary mode selector in the console, I activated Crab Walk mode. Using the 4 Wheel Steer function (4WS) that turns the wheels in sequence, I glided from side-to-side down the road at 20 mph like an Olympic distance skater.

A great party trick, but its real purpose is to demonstrate the dexterity of 4WS which is useful in numerous ways. On San Francisco’s storied Lombard Street, I negotiated the tight brick ess-turns with ease. In the middle of cramped Dixon Street, I did a U-turn using Hummer’s ridiculous 35.4-inch turning radius (similar to a subcompact Chevy Bolt). And in the hills of Napa Valley north of Frisco, the big ute danced through tight radius turns. Try that in other mega-utes.


AWS comes in handy off-road, too, which is the Hummer’s natural habitat going all the way back to the badge’s origins as an Army troop carrier. Together with the electric Hummer pickup introduced in 2022, the ‘23 Hummer SUV was green-lighted for production to announce General Motors’ historic mission to go all-electric in the next 10 years.

GM calls that risky journey a moonshot, and the Hummer twins are decorated with moon references — tiny astronaut footprints on the dashboard, rubber mats etched with the Sea of Tranquility — to drive home the point.

Created in just 18 months, the Hummer pickup was fast-tracked to market and GMC is paying the price in hiccups, like a recall of all 2022 models to replace its enormous 200-kWh battery at a reported cost of $60,000 per truck. Fingers crossed the ‘23 Hummer SUV, which GMC expects to be the bigger seller, avoids those teething pains.

With its square jaw, broad shoulders, three amber lights (required for vehicles wider than 80 inches) and 35-inch tires, Hummer’s as hard to miss as a full moon. Californians gaped wherever I drove.


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