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The 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The Hummer family is growing. Following in the footsteps of its electric big brother, the GMC Hummer pickup, is the 2024 Hummer EV SUV. It’s fossil fuel free and functional, yet bold and powerful. And like its truck sibling, it builds on the iconic DNA of its legendary past.

“We’re taking that old Hummer nameplate and we’re flipping it on its head,” said Kirsten Hanson, vehicle dynamics and chassis controls engineer at GMC Hummer. “We’re going bigger and bolder, but we’re also going green and more efficient for our EV future.”

With that transition to electric, GMC is attracting new and younger buyers to the brand. About 70 per cent of those reserving Hummers are new to electric vehicles and 75 per cent are new to GMC. To date, more than 90,000 Hummer SUVs and trucks have been ordered since truck reservations opened in 2020. Unfortunately, all 2024 Hummer SUV models are spoken for and new reservations are currently closed in Canada. But delivery is still on track for this spring.

Compared to the Hummer pickup, the two-rowed SUV has a shorter wheelbase, by nearly 229 millimetres, and is 508 millimetres shorter in length. Both vehicles are powered by GM’s Ultium Drive battery architecture, but the Hummer SUV has a smaller, 20-module, double-stacked battery pack with three electric motors that deliver up to 830 horsepower and 11,500 lb-ft of torque with approximately 480 kilometres of electric range. The truck, on the other hand, has a 24-module battery pack setup that delivers 1,000 horsepower.

While GM officials were unable to confirm the weight of the SUV, the truck weighs 9,063 pounds (4,110 kilograms); the battery alone – at 2,923 pounds or 1,325 kilograms – is roughly the same weight as a Honda Civic.

“The batteries are heavy. There’s a lot of mass to contain that much energy,” Hanson said. Alluding to concerns voiced by critics that the vehicle’s massive weight means it will take more time to stop and effort to control, Hanson said “that weight has been integrated [into the design] since the inception of this vehicle. Everyone on the engineering team has known about it. And every piece and component of this vehicle is sized accordingly … so safety is always the No. 1 priority.”

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The Hummer EV SUV with the roof panels removed. They are stored in the front trunk.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Part of our drive from San Francisco to the Napa Valley, California’s wine-growing region, included an off-roading excursion. Unfortunately, after unprecedented rainfall, the course was deemed too treacherous to trust journalists to tackle the terrain. Instead, engineers drove us through deep mud ruts, large puddles of water, and over a dozen logs. Compared with the truck, the SUV has greater departure and breakover angles, allowing it to descend steeper grades and navigate sharper peaks without scraping the underside of the vehicle, and a tighter turning circle of 35.4 feet, which is the same as the Chevy Bolt EV. It can also climb 60-per-cent grades (forward and reverse), scale 18-inch verticals and ford water up to 32 inches deep. In Extract mode, which increases the ride height, it has up to 16 inches of ground clearance, too.

Still, there were some tricky situations on the course when the rear wheels got stuck in thick mud. But the four-wheel-steer CrabWalk function came to the rescue. While CrabWalk might seem like a gimmick, it worked well, allowing the rear wheels to turn up to 10 degrees in either direction and enabling the SUV to drive diagonally at slow speeds to get out of the mud.

Waterproof front and rear underbody cameras provided excellent visibility underneath the vehicle and, when covered in dirt, a wash system cleaned them easily. Even though GMC’s engineers were doing the driving for us, their demo proved how powerful, strong and capable the SUV was when off-roading.

On a closed course, we tested the Watts to Freedom function, a driver-selectable feature that provides quick acceleration boosts that can launch this SUV to 100 kilometres an hour in only 3½ seconds. Trust me, it did.

On the road, the SUV felt solid and secure. It didn’t take long to adapt to its large proportions. Even parking in a crowded shopping mall lot wasn’t as bad as expected.

When hugging cliffside roads with no guardrails along scenic stretches of the winding Pacific Coast Highway, it handled well with some body lean when cornering. But wind noise often seeped into the cabin, so having conversations, especially with rear-seat passengers, was hampered at times. The SUV has regenerative braking on demand to increase efficiency and one-pedal driving, which can slow the vehicle to a full stop using only the accelerator pedal. There’s also a new available Power Station generator for external powering capabilities, so the SUV can jump charge another EV or power equipment and accessories such as tools, coffee makers or hair dryers.

The 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV is built at GM’s Factory Zero in Detroit-Hamtramck. It doesn’t come cheap. Prices for the Edition 1 EV models start at north of $140,000.

Tech specs

2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV

Base prices (including freight and predelivery inspection): Edition 1 – $142,598 to $154,198 (for the off-road package); EV2 – $108,598; EV2X – $122,098; EV3X – $135,598

Motors/drive: Three electric motors (one front and two in the rear)/four-wheel drive

Battery capacity: 170-kilowatt-hour battery pack

Charging times: Level 2 (up to 7.7 kilowatts) – 20 hours from 20 to 100 per cent; DC fast charger (up to 300 kilowatts) – 160 kilometres in 14 minutes

Horsepower/torque: Up to 830/up to 11,500 lb-ft

Estimated range: About 480 kilometres

Alternatives: Rivian R1S, Tesla Model X, Audi Q8 e-tron, Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV

Looks

Unapologetically big, brawny and boxy, it pays tribute to its original Hummer nameplate but without all those tailpipe emissions. Not remotely aerodynamic in its design, it commands attention with its signature horizontal front lighting cues, beefy tires and chunky front tow hooks.

Interior

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The Hummer EV SUV can hit 100 kilometres an hour in about 3.5 seconds.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Spacious and roomy in the front and rear seats. Cool graphics appear on the large 13.4-inch infotainment centre screen. Google is built-in, but there’s also a nice combo of hard buttons, dials and switches for frequently used items. The Infinity roof is cool, but its four removable panels are awkward and heavy to remove.

Performance

Accelerating and merging onto a highway is easy and effortless. The Watts to Freedom function is fast and furious, able to go to 100 kilometres an hour in about 3.5 seconds. Off-roading capabilities are excellent.

Technology

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The dash features a 13.4-inch infotainment centre screen.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

In addition to the Watts to Freedom mode, innovative engineering technology includes four-wheel steer with a CrabWalk function. A digital key allows owners to use their smartphone to unlock/lock the doors or start the vehicle. And Super Cruise, an available driver-assistance technology, offers hands-free driving on approximately 644,000 kilometres of mapped roads, with the driver still ultimately responsible for what happens behind the wheel.

Cargo

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Rear cargo space is huge with additional storage space under the floor.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The front trunk, or frunk, stores the four roof panels when removed. The rear cargo space is huge with additional storage space under the load floor. A power rear swing-gate with mounted spare tire opens easily with the push of a button.

The verdict

The Hummer EV SUV is a fun and functional off-roading machine that captures Hummer’s original DNA but has a welcome electric twist.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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