Test Drive: 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV First Edition

From top to bottom, this is a smart vehicle with features for the future

The 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV First Edition is unlike anything else on the road—that is, except the Hummer EV Pickup that we covered last spring. Because of the HEV Pickup, the team dedicated to delivering the HEV SUV had segment momentum to point to when pressed on why this behemoth should come to life. The majority of GMCs purchased are top shelf Denali models and it goes without saying that overall America prefers trucks and SUVs to cars. While the HEV Pickup made a big splashy entrance, the HEV SUV has strolled onto the scene with a casual confidence knowing that it has all the bonafides of its sibling, plus a few tricks of its own.

For starters, the SUV is 20 inches shorter in length than the pickup. Nine of those inches were cut from the wheelbase, making the HEV SUV much easier to maneuver, especially in a city. It was surely no mistake that our drive experience began with a U-turn out of a hotel driveway, across a heavily trafficked street in downtown San Francisco. Not only were we pleasantly surprised when the HEV SUV’s standard four-wheel steering allowed us to execute the turn without even coming close to using all 35.4 feet (about the same as a Chevy Bolt) of the turning radius, but we think all the onlookers were surprised as well. The sheer visual impact of the HEV SUV doesn’t hurt either when pulling off such a maneuver in traffic.

The HEV SUV has GM’s largest available Ultium battery pack, with about 212 kilowatt-hours of usable energy, powering three electric drive motors: one up front, two in the back. Total system output is 830 horsepower and 1,200 pound-feet of torque, all of which can be accessed through a simple series of button pushes that activate the appropriately juvenile named “Watts To Freedom” mode (aka the “WTF mode”). This brings the air suspension to its lowest setting, tells the thermal management system to precondition the battery in order to deliver maximum energy and displays a runway graphic on the infotainment screen. It’s then up to the driver to prepare themselves and any passengers for a hard launch. 60 mph is reached in a hard-to-believe 3.5 seconds and anything beyond that is dependent upon how much room you have to run and your desire for self-preservation.

Bringing the HEV SUV to an abrupt, or even semi-abbreviated stop is an adventure full of pronounced front-end dive and rear-end skittishness. As long as you’re prepared for what’s coming, you’ll be fine. Even on the rain-soaked pavement we rolled on for the majority of our drive experience we never felt like we were in danger of losing control, just that extra care had to be taken. It’s worth noting that we only drove an HEV SUV equipped with the Extreme Off-Road Package, which includes 35-inch off-road tires on 18-inch wheels. We’d imagine that the standard 22” wheel and all-season tire package offer a perceptible improvement in overall handling.

With that being said, the underbody cameras, full body skid plates and front e-locker and virtual rear diffs that are also part of the Extreme Off-Road Package are mighty appealing given the capability of the HEV SUV. Increased departure and breakover angles of 49.0 and 34.4 degrees, respectively, as opposed to the pickup’s 38.4- and 32.2-degree measurements make it the more capable of the two. The standard air suspension offers 13 inches of clearance in its normal setting and can be raised to a towering 15.9 inches for getting out of a jam, or fording nearly 32 inches of water. There are other vehicles that boast some of these credentials, but they’re not EVs, and that’s the main point.

GMC set out to make a vehicle that turns EV skeptics into EV believers and for our part we think the Hummer EV SUV has a great shot at doing exactly that. While GM’s Ultium modular platform is impressive, the brand is only going to garner so much attention talking about battery packaging and charging performance. Wrapping a state-of-the-art 20 module, double-stacked battery system in a hulking body that pays tribute to the original H1 Wagon, while incorporating some styling that’s reminiscent of HALO’s “Warthog,” is nothing if not ambitious. The HEV SUV is a rolling billboard for what GM is capable of with regard to EVs.

This is a vehicle that’s all about surprise and delight. For example, the 2024 model year offers vehicle-to-vehicle charging, meaning your Hummer can power all the toys you bring on adventures, or even give juice to other vehicles. The HEV SUV has 300-kilowatt maximum DC fast charging, which allows for about 100 miles of range in 14 minutes with the battery pack pre-conditioned. Plugged into a 240-volt outlet, the Hummer’s onboard Level Two charger will replenish the battery at a rate of 19.2 kilowatts, where it’ll take about eight hours to get from 20 to 100 percent, so there’s your overnight home charging sorted. Keeping drivers on the move without too much delay is a delight, but when it comes to surprise, getting the SUV onto a highway where you can activate Super Cruise is right up there with “WTF mode.”

GM’s Level Two driver-assistance system allows for genuine hands-free operation on more than 400,000 miles of pre-mapped roads in the US and Canada, and it’s one of the best hands-free driving systems we’ve used. Its motions are natural to the point where even in a behemoth like the Hummer EV SUV it’s smooth. Perhaps most importantly, it’s easy to operate, letting the driver know when it’s available and requiring only one button to activate. Given our past experiences in other Super Cruise equipped GM products, we weren’t even the least bit hesitant to turn over control of the HEV SUV to the computer system.

From top to bottom, this is a smart vehicle. Like the HEV Pickup, the HEV SUV is essentially a concept vehicle people can own. It has a gravitational pull that cannot be denied, attracting eyeballs like moths to a flame. And, you may not remotely care about the vehicle itself, but you’ll care about what it leads to. The attention garnered from resurrecting the Hummer name for an EV-only line of vehicles is worth the investment alone. That GM had the foresight to do so bodes well for their future as they look to be a leader in the EV marketplace. They’ve shown themselves as willing to take risks in order to differentiate themselves.

Images courtesy of GMC