“My name is Hummer, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
The GMC Hummer EV isn’t here to be practical. It’s a moonshot vehicle, an aspirational purchase that seeks to convince internal combustion, bro-truck holdouts that the cars of the future can be “badass,” too. But after a week behind the wheel of this brodozer, even with all the whiz-bang tech tucked away in here, the Hummer EV still feels like a relic of the past, desperately fighting against the tide while trying to fit into a more eco-conscious future where it probably shouldn’t exist at all.
I’ll start with the parts that I think GM got right — as “right” as a 9,000-pound electric truck can get, at least. While I prefer the silhouette of the upcoming SUV variant to this pickup-truck body, I will say that the Hummer EV looks every bit the beast that it is. The boxy fender flares comprise nearly half of the real estate on each side. It’s imposingly large in every dimension. The giant running light with “HUMMER” etched into it makes the vehicle’s presence known well before it blots out the sun for smaller vehicles as it passes by. It’s extremely in-your-face.
GMC rolled out its biggest, most powerful Hummer EV first, and it practically breaks physics when experienced. Two motors at the rear axle combine with one on the front axle to produce a net 1,000 horsepower and somewhere north of 1,000 pound-feet of torque. (I am not parroting GMC’s practically duplicitous use of five-digit at-the-wheel torque figures.) Even though the Hummer EV weighs as much as 1.5 GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickups, it’ll reach 60 mph in right about 3 seconds, which is supercar territory. It doesn’t make sense — and it’s even harder to parse this reality when you’re focused on keeping this rocket-powered aircraft carrier pointed straight — but it’s impressive that something can actually do this, especially repeatedly.
Another high point in the Hummer EV comes from GM tech that’s been kicking around for a while already. Super Cruise can control the vehicle’s driving, steering and braking on certain pre-mapped stretches of highway across the US, and it’s truly the best hands-free system on sale today. It feels no different in the Hummer EV; even with its Brobdingnagian footprint, Super Cruise keeps the car smack-dab in the center of its lane, whether the road is curvy or straight. It’ll even change lanes on its own now, and it does so with an impressive smoothness. It does an amazing job reducing the tedium of longer drives, and there were very few times when the system requested that I step in and handle a specific portion of road.
The rest of the Hummer EV’s cabin tech isn’t too shabby, either. Rising from the center of the dashboard is a 13.4-inch touchscreen running the latest iteration of GM’s corporate infotainment system. It offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, in addition to a whole bunch of integrated Google apps, including Maps. Epic Games’ Unreal Engine handles the graphics, and they’re damned good. The display is large enough to offer split-screen functionality, including the ability to run Google Maps alongside whatever smartphone mirroring is running. The 12.3-inch digital gauge display also offers some slick aesthetics, and it’s easy to customize using the steering wheel controls.
That’s it, though. Those are all the new tricks that this old dog knows. And once the veneer of physics-defying entrail rearrangement fades, all that’s left is a mediocre electric truck with the curb weight of a dying star. The Hummer EV becomes a bit of a Bummer EV, if you will.
As interesting as the Hummer EV’s cabin can look, going beyond a glance reveals some extremely middling material. Yes, I know the Hummer EV is a pickup that can be an open-air vehicle (more on its T-tops later), and thus some degree of durability is required in the cabin. But man, everything just feels so cheap. The dashboard and center console are made of cold, rock-hard plastic that feels like it was cribbed from a rental-spec Chevy Equinox. The use of leather pretty much stops and starts at the seats and steering wheel. What looks like leather on the door panels and center armrest is actually a unique rubberized material that, while it carries some interesting looks, again feels unworthy of a $100,000 price tag. Hell, when I open up the armrest to access the cubby, I’m met with more hard plastic and exposed bolts. On something that costs Range Rover money. Yeesh.
More than a few corners feel cut on the Hummer EV, even in its most expensive Edition 1 guise. The headlight and wiper stalks lack illumination, as do the physical switches that handle climate-control duties on the center touchscreen, so if you haven’t committed all that switchgear to memory, good luck trying to use it at night. Thanks to issues with its vertical windows, GM couldn’t get auto-up windows to work, so they just weren’t included — and yet, Ford’s supplier seems to build them just fine for the Bronco’s equally steep windows.
There are some strange ergonomics at play in the Hummer’s cabin, too. The shifter is twice as large as it needs to be, and my admittedly lanky hands still have a hard time gripping it comfortably. The rear glass is at the perfect angle to constantly reflect the infotainment screen in the rearview mirror at night, obstructing visibility. The passenger side mirror is weirdly zoomed in, presumably because it’s located two states away from the driver, which makes precision parking and lane changes more perilous than necessary.
Ride quality is good, but not great. I wouldn’t fault you for thinking that something with the mass of an office complex and thick, off-road-ready tires would absorb everything short of an earthquake. And while the Hummer EV’s standard air suspension does soak up a good number of pavement inconsistencies, something about the ride still feels flinty in execution, like there’s some inherent performance-oriented stiffness built in where it maybe shouldn’t be. Those tires do generate a good bit of road noise, as well, but thankfully that’s drowned out by the constant hiss of air sneaking through the T-tops and the sound of the wind slamming against the steep rakes of the windshield and mirrors. This is not a quiet car.
Perhaps GM’s greatest achievement in this entire exercise is that the company managed to build an electric vehicle that is extravagantly inefficient. While its battery is rated for a solid 329 miles per charge, it requires over 200 kilowatt-hours of capacity to do so, or about twice what most cars with big batteries have. Over my week with the Hummer EV, wintry weather did its best to kneecap that range, and I ended up seeing only about 230 miles until I had to seek out some juice. That comes out to a little over 1.1 kilowatt-hours per mile, about one-third the efficiency of a Hyundai Ioniq 5 tested in equally chilly weather.
Blissfully, the Hummer EV’s Ultium platform means it can accept the fastest charges currently offered. Plug this thing into a 350-kilowatt DC fast charger and it will do its best to hoover up every electron as fast as possible, which is good, seeing as how I’m basically charging two “normal” EVs back-to-back.
It’s all so damn wasteful. I just keep thinking about how the battery pack in one of these could instead be used to put not one, but two Equinox or Blazer EVs on the road. As most other automakers — including primary competitor Ford — focus on rolling out affordable electric vehicles that people need more than want, GM is over here throwing two batteries’ worth of rare metals into six-figure moonshots for the chronically insecure.
I could forgive some of the Hummer EV’s warts if it didn’t cost $110,295 including $1,595 in destination charges. And yes, there are lesser-equipped, lower-range Hummer EVs coming down the pipeline, which will carry more palatable price tags that better suit its interior quality. But my tester is sitting here asking for Range Rover or Mercedes EQS money, where you can still get oodles of propulsion, but you also get a cabin that doesn’t feel like a minimum viable product. When that’s considered, it doesn’t feel like a good use of that much money. Hell, you could buy two Ford F-150 Lightning Pro electric trucks for that price. Two!
The GMC Hummer EV is proof that electrification won’t change too much about our lives. There will still be room on our roads for something that is unnecessarily large and wasteful, something that looks like it could be for work purposes but decidedly is not, as is the American car-buying tradition. Being big and dumb for no good reason will not go gently into that good night, even though it probably should.