Gas prices are rising and there's a modern Hummer in town, though wisely this time it's electric.

GM's truck and SUV division unveiled the 2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup truck in October 2020, and Motor Authority got the chance to drive a prototype vehicle last week at the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan.

The electric pickup is set to arrive by the end of the year as the full-zoot GMC Hummer EV Edition 1, with 1,000 horsepower, 1,200 lb-ft of torque, 35-inch off-road tires, air suspension, rear-wheel steering, three electric motors, and more than 350 miles of driving range.

Four models will be available, but for those looking to spend less it's going to be more than two years until their electric Hummer arrives, the spring of 2024 to be exact.

I drove the Hummer EV Edition 1 through a series of exercises and sat in the passenger seat as an engineer demonstrated the Watts To Freedom mode that unlocks the power to catapult a truck that weighs more than 9,000 lb from 0-60 mph in about three seconds.

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

Exercise 1: Drive on a gravel track

It’s not as exciting as it sounds, as the drive was just a few hundred yards and mostly involved launching the Hummer EV on gravel. A rally course would have been a lot more fun.

Still, the exercise showed off the capability of what GMC engineers call a “moonshot” vehicle. Tasked with developing an electric pickup from scratch, the team built the most capable version first, and its technology will trickle down to lesser versions of the Hummer EV pickup, a Hummer EV SUV, and new electric GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado pickups.

The Hummer EV pickup uses a new body-frame-integrated platform instead of a body-on-frame structure like GM’s pickups and the forthcoming Ford F-150 Lightning. The platform starts with a sturdy box for the two-layer, 24-module, 200-kwh Ultium battery pack. The sandwiched lithium-ion battery teams with front and rear subframes to effectively form a skateboard platform, but the body also contributes to the stiffness of the overall structure.

The Edition 1 uses three motors—two in the back and one in the front—to deliver what is expected to be more than 350 miles of driving range. Each of the motors makes 255 kw or 341 hp to arrive at 1,000 hp and 1,200 lb-ft of torque. Two lesser motors will be offered in the Ultium range, making 241 hp and 83 hp.

GMC outfits the Edition 1 with a mechanical front locking differential and uses software to make the two-motor rear axle a virtual locker. The standard 305/70R18 Goodyear Territory MT tires are knobby and have a 35-inch diameter. GMC says it has developed the truck for 37s as well.

Every Edition 1 also has a choice of drive modes that include Normal, Off-Road, Terrain, Tow/Haul, and MyMode. Off-Road is like other off-roaders’ Sand modes, with aggressive throttle mapping and loose stability control and traction control. Terrain mode is a 4Lo-style rock crawling mode, and MyMode lets drivers adjust the steering, suspension, acceleration, and (simulated) motor sound.

Faced with a closed-course, and a wide gravel road, I clicked the dial on the center console into Off-Road mode, then jammed down the throttle. One thousand electric horses fired to the knobby Goodyear tires, which dug into the gravel and vaulted the pickup forward with purpose. It probably got to 60 mph in about four seconds, and that was accompanied by the kind of fishtailing you see on YouTube just before a show-off Mustang owner hits the median. I was smart enough to let off the throttle before it got out of control. Fans of V-8 engines won’t be disappointed by the Hummer EV’s sudden, relentless power.

A left-hand turn on the gravel road also gave me the chance to goose the throttle and let the truck drift through the turn. No problem. The immediate torque works like a clutch kick to help induce a drift.

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

Exercise 2: Crab Walk

GMC outfits the Hummer EV Edition 1 with rear-wheel steering. It uses a rear rack that enables the rear wheels to steer up to 10 degrees with or opposite the front wheel. It offers three modes: auto, off, and CrabWalk. CrabWalk can be viewed as GMC's answer to Rivian's "tank turn" mode. Rivian's system allows a vehicle to spin around within its own length, and the Hummer EV's system turns the rears with the fronts at low speeds to allow the vehicle to move diagonally.

Faced with another open gravel road, I pulled over to the right-hand side then enabled CrabWalk by clicking and holding the top left area of the same dial that scrolls through the drive modes. A crab graphic appeared on the 13.4-inch center touchscreen and a circle gradually filled in to indicate when the mode was ready. Then it was a simple matter of steering left, going easy on the throttle and letting the vehicle move diagonally at a 10-degree angle enabled by that rear-wheel steering. I then turned back right, then left, then right again. The system worked as advertised, moving diagonally side to side. Driving too fast (the system shuts off at speeds of 20 mph), adding too much steering angle, or turning quickly side to side might cause the system to fall behind, but it’s not meant for higher speeds. It’s mostly a cool party trick, but it can also be useful when you have to avoid an off-road obstacle or even when you have to pull out of a tight parallel parking spot.

I also took this opportunity to complete a full 360-degree turn. To my surprise, the truck did it within the width of the road, cutting the turn at a much smaller radius than a truck this size would suggest (it essentially has full-size pickup dimensions). GMC quotes a turning circle of 37.4 feet, which is mid-size sedan territory.

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

Exercise 3: Rock crawl

The Hummer EV Edition 1 comes standard with a four-corner air suspension and adaptive dampers. The air suspension raises the truck 1.8 inches from its standard 10.1 inches of ground clearance in Terrain mode and can raise it all the way to 15.9 inches in an Extract mode. It can also lower the suspension 3.5 inches.

Also standard on the Edition 1 are five skid plates that cover the entirety of the underbody and two underbody cameras. All told, the vehicle can show 18 camera views.

With the 11.9 inches of ground clearance afforded by Terrain mode, I drove up a rock outcropping at low speeds. Terrain mode retarded the throttle to make it easy to control in this inch-by-inch situation, the excellent 44.3-degree approach, 25.4-degree breakover, and 33.7-degree departure angles (just look at the design and you can see the front and rear ends were designed to clear off-road obstacles) in Terrain mode helped it clear the larger boulders, and the tires grabbed and simply walked up the rock surfaces. I drove a little too fast over the rocks, but the only issue that caused was a roller coaster-like ride for the poor PR woman riding in the back seat. In Extract mode the approach, breakover, and departure angles increase to 49.7, 32.2, and 38.4 degrees, respectively. That’s extreme.

The various camera views were a big help here and during a short but steep hill climb soon thereafter. The underbody cameras let me put the vehicle right where I wanted it in the rock pile, and the forward camera helped me see over the hill. The forward camera will be a big help during any off-roading as the high hood blocks the view just in front of the vehicle.

Hummer didn’t have me test Extract mode, which works up to 12 mph. It will help pull the tires out of muck and clear larger obstacles. GMC says the Hummer EV will be able to drive through more than 28 inches of standing water in Terrain mode and 32 inches in Extract mode, and scale an 18-inch vertical obstacle.

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

Exercise 4: Ride and handling

Hummer’s ride and handling track was no rally course. It was a paved track on the proving grounds with just a few turns and more areas to test the suspension on subpar roads.

For this exercise, I switched to MyMode and set the steering and suspension to Off-Road, and the throttle to its most aggressive Adrenaline setting. The Off-Road setting adds more heft to the steering and triggers a firmer ride for the dampers. This is a de facto Sport mode, though I’ll talk about the even sportier mode later. I kept the motor sound in its quietest Normal setting because both of the other, louder settings were too artificial and annoying—GMC has some work to do to find a pleasing sound.

The Hummer caught me off guard on the bumpy sections of road. I expected truck-like bounding, but this is not a body-on-frame vehicle and it doesn’t have rear leaf springs. Instead, the body remained stable, eliminating the head toss and giggle passengers typically experience in a truck.

Cornering wasn’t nearly as impressive. Physics simply conspired to keep the Hummer EV from being any fun in corners. At more than 9,000 lb, and riding 10.1 inches off the road on tires with a chunky tread pattern, the truck wanted to lean, push, and slide in the few turns I experienced. With more traction on pavement than gravel, the truck also leaned rearward and the hood rose during hard acceleration. That type of movement could be better controlled.

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

Exercise 5: Watts To Freedom

GMC didn’t trust lowly auto journalists to test the Watts To Freedom mode on its high-speed oval test track, so I had to ride in the passenger seat for this exercise as vehicle dynamics calibration engineer Jim Greene took the wheel. WTF is the real Sport mode as it enables all of the settings I chose for MyMode, plus a 3.5-inch lower ride height and a launch control feature.

The air springs take 18-20 seconds to lower the ride height from from 10.1 to 6.6 inches. Given that wait, GMC adds some showmanship to the WTF experience. A graphical sequence programmed with the UnReal engine used for video games accompanies the countdown. GM’s haptic seat—which is usually used to alert drivers to potential dangers to one side or another—begins to vibrate, and the Bose sound system plays a sound that increases in volume. When it’s ready, the system tells you to hit the brake, then the throttle. At this point, you can let go of the brake to unleash 1,000 hp and 1,200 lb-ft of torque.

When Greene let off the throttle I was pinned back into my seat as violently as I’ve ever been in a supercar and four-and-a-half tons of truck leapt forward. GMC’s three-second 0-60 mph time sounds entirely plausible. That’s some otherworldly performance given the weight.

We’ll test Watts To Freedom for ourselves when we get behind the wheel, likely early next year. That will give us a feel for the power from behind the wheel and for the handling with the ride height lowered.

Our first experience with the 2022 GMC Hummer EV revealed that it does feel like a supertruck. It doesn’t sound great, and it doesn’t handle well on off-road tires, but GMC will offer more streetable tires and models that cut some of its excess weight. It has the acceleration of a supercar, the off-road ability of a Ford F-150 Raptor, and the electric efficiency to make people forget about the Hummer H2 gas guzzlers of 15 years ago. GMC shot the moon with this one and hit a bulls-eye.

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

2022 GMC Hummer EV prototype, engineering drive, September 2022 at the Milford Proving Grounds

Everything else you should know

All Edition 1 models will start at $112,595 and come with white paint, a Lunar Horizon interior, "Edition 1" interior badges, and all the advanced equipment mentioned above.

GMC is rolling out the Hummer EV in four phases. After the Edition 1 late this year, the Hummer EV 3X will arrive in the fall of 2022, also with the three-motor drive system, torque vectoring, and Watts To Freedom mode. It will start at $99,995.

In the spring of 2023, GMC will offer the Hummer EV 2X with a two-motor drive system, the air suspension, four-wheel steering, and Extract mode. This model will cost $89,995. The most-affordable model, the Hummer EV 2 will hit the market in the spring of 2024 with a price of $79,995 and the two-motor system. GMC has not quoted power or range for the two-motor models and has not detailed the range capability of its smaller 16-and 20-cell batteries, which will likely hold about 150 and 175 kwh respectively.

All models will be built on GM's new BEV3 architecture. The electrical architecture is an 800-volt system that is capable of using 350-kw fast-charge hardware to provide nearly 100 miles of range in 10 minutes. GMC said owners will be able to charge on a Level 2 outlet at a rate of 11.5 kw, though it didn't give charging times.

The latest version of GM's Super Cruise hands-free driver-assistance system will be standard on Edition 1 models.

Inside, the Hummer EV is modern, with the 13.4-inch touchscreen for infotainment, plus a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and another screen for climate controls. Using the UnReal engine, the touchscreen will be able to display 3D graphics and motion that show what the truck is doing.

Handy exterior features will include a 5-foot bed, the multifunction tailgate from other GM trucks, a power rear glass window, and front and rear T-top panels that can be removed and fit into the front trunk.

The Hummer EV is 216.9 inches long, which is a foot shorter than a GMC Sierra regular cab with the 8-foot box and about two feet shorter than a crew cab with the 6-foot-6 box. Its wheelbase is 135.6 inches, which is just under four inches shorter than the regular cab Sierra and almost two feet shorter than the crew cab, long box. However, at 86.7 inches wide, it’s about five inches wider than any Sierra and about the same as the Ford F-150 Raptor. It’s a big truck, but not huge.

Production is scheduled to start late this year at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck factory, which is being converted into a dedicated EV facility, and the first customers will get their trucks before the end of the year. The full first-year model run, all Edition 1s, is sold out, but GM isn’t saying how many trucks that will be.