The Hummer was once a status symbol, and looks like it will be again, only this time, it’s going to be all-electric. The new Hummer EV is coming, and it’s not just a beast, but a set of wheels that can move in all kinds of situations.

If you’ve never done off-road driving, you might become a fan after doing it in this thing. I got to test out the 2022 Hummer EV Edition 1 in Arizona in and around the Scottsdale and Phoenix area, including an off-road track situated an hour’s drive north, where I got to see exactly what it can do off the beaten path.

You might not think of an electric truck having the kind of power of a muscle-bound engine, but you’d be mistaken. This thing can roll, even if its roar isn’t going to sound as loud. Its tri-motor drivetrain can hit 1,000 horsepower and 1,200 pound-feet of torque — basically letting you go from 0 to 96 km/h in just three seconds. So, while it can fly pushing the pedal down, its motor torque and wheelbase give it excellent leverage in all driving conditions, including rougher terrain.

Looking at the Hummer EV

GM claims the Hummer EV can go up to 529km on its battery. It uses GM’s own Ultium system, which essentially stacks two layers of cells on top of each along the bottom, right below the cabin where the interior sits. Whether you actually make it that far does depend on various factors, like where you’re driving (city, highway, off-road), how much heat or AC is on, and other things, like heated driver and passenger seats. You’ll be hearing “Ultium” a lot going forward as that will form the basis of GM (and potentially other automakers’) EVs.

The Edition 1 units, like the one I test drove, will only come in the Summit White Exterior colour you see in the photos. Future models will have more colour choices, but for now, this is it. You get 18-inch wheels, skid plates and rock sliders to protect the underbody, plus a camera showing you what’s happening underneath. That camera is one of 18 traversing the entire vehicle, giving you a full view of every angle around you for those times when you need to get out of a tight space or jam.

The cargo bed in the back has ample room, including for a spare tire, and there’s trunk space in the front. On the inside, the cabin isn’t as spacious as you might initially think, but it’s definitely comfortable. What’s cool is that the four roof panels are tinted and detach for an open-air drive. You can even lower the rear window to truly feel the breeze from every direction.

The infotainment screen is huge at 13.4-inches, with two rows of physical buttons underneath where you can control a whole lot of what the Hummer EV does. It can run on the Google-built Android Automotive platform, along with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (different from Automotive) that can run off your phone wirelessly.

There’s another 12.3-inch screen behind the steering wheel that lets drivers control a variety of functions and see important info about the truck. For instance, at one point, it showed a rear tire that started losing air pressure. When we saw the number drop precipitously, we realized we had a flat. Have you ever had a flat tire that’s right dead centre in the inner tread? You could try doing it 100 times, and fail 99 times. Luckily, it was an easy fix with one of the rear spares the GM team took care of.

How the Hummer EV drives

I haven’t done much as far as off-roading goes, but I got really good hang of it while driving the Hummer EV. It just felt smooth, even when going through rocky formations that required some careful angling. There’s cool stuff that helps with that, like Air Down Mode, which uses sensors to measure tire pressure, and enable drivers to deflate the tires for better traction and grip over tougher spots. After getting through that, the tires can inflate back again until you need to use that mode again.

The rear wheels also move in tandem with the front wheels, so you can maneuver around and over rough patches. The four-wheel steering was responsive and gave me more options to move forward or back with greater precision. For instance, in a tight spot where I would need to shift the truck from right to left over a thicker rock, turning all four wheels in either direction when I needed to meant the Hummer would generate more torque and power going over those areas.

Not only that, but it’s also possible to raise the suspension to create greater clearance and protect the underbody from heavier impacts with obstructions under the truck. One of the slickest things the Hummer EV can do is called the “crabwalk,” where you can turn all four wheels in the same direction and roll diagonally — a really great way to worm out of a tough spot, like if you were maybe too close to an edge and want to keep the back from sliding down when pulling out.

As much as I enjoyed the off-road stuff, the smooth ride continued on city streets and highways. The Hummer EV comes with Super Cruise, GM’s self-driving mode that lets you ride hands-free on supported roads in Canada and the U.S. With the different driving modes available, the truck handles itself well, and I can see it adapting to snow-covered or rain-soaked roads with relative ease because of the flexibility involved.

Charging it up

I didn’t get to see this in action, but the gist is that the Hummer EV can charge at 400 volts or 800 volts. There’s a lot managing how all this works but it basically means the truck can work with really fast 350kW DC chargers. There aren’t many of those deployed right now, but they are there. The charging throughput doesn’t stay at that number the whole time, so here is how it breaks down.

At 800 volts, it would take 12 minutes to charge enough for 160 km of range. An average of 175kW would take 42 minutes to go from 20-80%. That’s why GM recommends setting aside an hour of time to charge en route for any road trip. At 400 volts, you double those charging figures, so roughly 24 minutes for 160 km, though not necessarily 84 minutes to go from 20-80%.

A Level 2 charger is what you can get at home, which maxes out at 7.7kW, so plug in at all times, and you’re looking at an average of 16 km in range for every 60 minutes of charging. Plugging in overnight helps you get back a lot or all of what you used up on a drive.

What’s to come

It’s only a matter of time before we see the Hummer EV in a hip-hop music video. Not sure it will overtake the Escalade for ostentatious materialism in pop culture, but I’m thinking the Hummer brand will get its time to shine.

If you want one, you will have to wait to drive it. It’s possible to reserve an Edition 1 now, and it will run you $110,259 USD to get one. There’s no Canadian pricing yet, but we do know that future Hummer EV models will start at $80,000 USD. There will be an SUV trim, too. Look for them to come in spring 2023, with more thereafter in 2024.