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2023 GMC Hummer EV: A big truck with a big personality and a big price tag [First Drive]

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I have to hand it to GMC: It did an amazing job of paying homage to the original Hummer H2 with the 2023 Hummer EV while at the same time making it completely new and super cool.

During the first drive, we had the opportunity to check out a few of the drive modes – including WTF and Crab Walk – as well as spend some time both on and off road. I walked away geeking out over the graphics and really wishing I had $110k to plunk down on an Edition 1 model.

That doesn’t mean it’s a perfect vehicle. There are certainly some compromises you have to make with a vehicle of this size, but for the right person with the right budget, this will be an awesome vehicle.

The rest of us will just have to drool in silence.

With so much that has already been written about the 2023 Hummer EV, I’m going to jump right into driving impressions and talk about some of the more frequently asked questions.

So, how does the 2023 Hummer EV drive?

The 2023 Hummer EV is surprising agile for a 9,000-pound vehicle. My first stint behind the wheel was on a 2-hour-long off-road course. We flipped between Terrain and Off-Road modes while speeding through graveling washes and slowly climbing a small mountain with a few tight turns and a lot of sharp rocks.

With speeds up to about 30 MPH through the wash, the Hummer EV almost seemed to feel more stable the faster we went. There was certainly a jostle, but it could have been soo much worse. Up the rocks and around the blind corners, I found the 18 camera views to be invaluable. I couldn’t always see over the hood, but the cameras gave me the confidence to keep going.

The Hummer EV has 5 skid plates covering all the valuable transmission, motor and battery parts, and I feel like I must have tested at least three of them at one point or another.

Moving to a one-hour trek back to our hotel on highways, I was impressed by how small the Hummer EV drove. It was easy to maneuver in highway traffic, and I’ll admit I had more than a little fun with passing maneuvers. Because of my petite driving position, I did feel a bit small behind the wheel, but overall visibility was good – except for the fact that our truck had the optional spare tires in the bed, so rear visibility was a tad limited.

Overall first driving impressions are solid. It’s smooth and fast, and the seats are remarkably comfortable for a General Motors vehicle.

How is the range, really?

The tough thing about testing range while on a first drive is that, well, it’s a first drive. And GMC very carefully curated our route and drive times. But with the Edition 1 model getting around 329 miles of range, I can honestly say, this is the first electric vehicle I’ve driven that didn’t give me the slightest twinge of range anxiety – and that’s after 4 hours of crawling through off-road obstacles and 2 hours of highway driving at speeds more than 70 MPH.

Plus, there was a lot of idling to keep the vehicle cool in the hot Arizona sun.

We started our drive at 9:30 a.m. and took an hour break for lunch, then I turned the vehicle in at about 5:30 p.m. after about 2 hours of filming and idling.

I still had about 40% of the charge left.

One of the things I do love about the Hummer EV is, like the new Volvo vehicles coming out, it uses the Google operating system. This means if you use the native Google Maps for navigation, it will not only project how long it will take you to get to your location, it’ll tell you how much range you’ll have when you get there. I found this to be very accurate during our short drive.

WTF?! (aka Watts To Freedom)

The Watts To Freedom mode in the 2023 Hummer EV is completely ridiculous, serves no point and is a f*cking blast to experience. I really don’t see a use case for this feature other than to have a heck of a lot of fun and show off to your friends. But, damn, I now want every vehicle to have it.

My first experience was in the passenger seat when the product guy was showing me how it works. My sunglasses flew off my head, and I laughed gleefully. With my turn behind the wheel, I was slightly more prepared but still lost my sunglasses and still let out a giggle.

The graphics to engage WTF are designed by video gaming company Unreal Engine, and it shows. This intro screen – as well as all the graphics for drive mode changes – are the coolest I’ve seen on any vehicle. Ever. Full stop.

Look, ma! No hands!

I’ve experienced Super Cruise before in Cadillac vehicles, so I mostly knew what to expect when engaging this hands-free feature on the highway in the 2023 Hummer EV. For those who aren’t familiar, you simply engage the regular cruise control, and if Super Cruise is available, a gray steering wheel shows up in the behind-the-wheel gauges. Then you hit the Super Cruise button, wait for the green light to appear on the top of the steering wheel and let go of the wheel.

There is a camera monitoring your eyes and head, so this isn’t permission to answer email or start texting. But it is permission to relax a little bit and let the truck do the heavy lifting – while you continue to pay attention and be ready to take the wheel at a moment’s notice.

I had a couple of instances where the system disengaged, and I feel like the transition between semi-autonomous and hands-on was very quick. So, that paying attention part? Super important.

The one thing that threw me for a loop was the automatic lane change. I had set my cruise for 70 MPH, and when we encountered a vehicle that was going slower, the truck slowed down as it should with adaptive cruise control, but as soon as the left lane was clear, the truck turned on its own turn signal and proceeded to change lanes – without any prompting from me. It was weird, but it worked flawlessly. To get back right after passing, I had to hit the right signal indicator myself, but the truck itself did the maneuver while I remained hands-free.

Is Crab Walk a gimmick?

I would say if there’s a feature on the 2023 Hummer EV that’s a gimmick, it’s WTF. Crab Walk actually has a potential use case. While we tested it in an empty parking lot, I could see where this would be useful in a tight urban parking lot to slide around a curb. I could also see using it specifically in my Chicago alley on trash day after the trash truck comes through and creates an obstacle course of empty cans strewn randomly behind houses’ garages.

But the real use case: Off road. In addition to a super tight steering radius with four-wheel steer, Crab Walk will help you slide diagonally past rock walls and craggy obstacles that a vehicle of this size has no business maneuvering through.

Does it go completely sideways? No. Will it help you parallel park, maybe, but probably not the way you think.

IMHO, people who think this is a gimmick probably don’t live in a city and rarely goes off-road.

2023 Hummer EV

The sky panels are cool, easy

We’ve seen removable panels in a lot of off-roading vehicles – from the Ford Bronco to the Jeep Wrangler – and none of them are super easy to manage. So, I was skeptical when GMC said its sky panels could be done by one person within a few minutes.

Of course, I tested it, and I’m pleased to say GMC was right. I was able to lift the panels out without too much awkwardness, and it took me and a friend less than 5 minutes to get them all out. It took us another 5 to stow them away in their available numbered Styrofoam cases that stack neatly in the front trunk.

This is a feature people will actually use. Frequently.

2023 Hummer EV throwbacks to the H2

If you remember the old Hummer H2 SUT, this new Hummer EV shouldn’t look completely foreign. GMC designers did an excellent job of giving a nod to the past with electrifying (pun intended) results.

The grille has the familiar seven “slots,” though they’re really just vertical separations between the light cells on the EV. The taillights have a similar block shape with a new take – the H-shaped LEDs. The profile of the Hummer EV pickup truck also has a similar profile with the upright stance and large tires.

But the EV has a lower profile and some more aerodynamic curves, plus the lighting signatures from the blinkers to the charge lights to the welcome lighting are entirely modern and really cool. The bed of the Hummer EV truck is also bigger than the former SUT, and the overall length is similar to a full-size pickup truck.

Picking nits

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the 2023 Hummer EV, and frankly, I can’t wait to see how it does in Chicago. But as I stated at the beginning, this truck isn’t perfect, and I do have a couple nits to pick.

First, the spare tire situation is nil. So, if you are planning on doing some serious off roading or just like the safety of having an extra tire, you will need to get an accessory package to get the spare tires we had on our test truck. Also worth nothing, because of the Ultium battery pack, there’s no way to mount a spare underneath and maintain the off-road capability. So, if you want spares, they have to go in the bed, and they will block your rear visibility.

Sticking with the tire sitch, another nit is the tire noise that creeps into the cabin at highway speeds. Because there’s no engine sound to mute the noise coming from those standard 35-inchers, it’s noticeable. Music from the standard Bose audio system will help cover it up, but if you like to ride in silence, well, it’s not so silent.

Finally, though the single-spec interior materials are durable and seem washable, I do have to question the decision to utilize white accents. Even if you never take this vehicle off-road, I see them looking worn and dirty over time – especially the arm rest.

2023 Hummer EVThe bottom line on the 2023 Hummer EV

First off, thanks for sticking with me this long. This review is far longer than I intended. But there’s just so much to say about this re-invention of an icon. From the features to the handling to the graphics, I merely touched the surface of this truck.

So I’ll wrap this up quickly: Well done, GMC. Well done.

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization.

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