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You may already be familiar with the tale of how Austrian bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger was instrumental in getting A.M. General to serve up a civilian version of its military Humvee. The resulting Hummer H1 had serious off-road chops with its all-wheel drive system, 37-inch tall tires, and an incredible 16 inches of ground clearance. Unfortunately, it was also one of the slowest cars of its era due to the toxic combination of low power and high curb weight.

A tan 1992 Hummer H1 Humvee parked at a left front angle
1992 Hummer H1 | Bring a Trailer

What was under the H1’s hood?

Some enthusiasts might not be aware, but in certain years, the H1 was available with an unlikely gasoline engine in addition to the more common diesel powerplant. The OG Hummer’s gas engine was a 5.7-liter (350 cubic inch) small block Chevy V8 that made 190 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, which was woefully inadequate for the H1’s considerable heft.

At the time, Chevrolet was still using the iconic 454 cubic inch big block V8 — albeit detuned considerably from its muscle car heyday — in its heavy-duty pickup trucks. The torquey 454 would have been a far more appropriate choice for the massive off-roader, but for reasons unknown, Hummer buyers got stuck with the small block.

The popular diesel option, which was probably superior in terms of durability, had even less power. How much less? Try approximately 150 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque.

Zero to 60 mph took almost 20 seconds

A 1995 Car and Driver road test of the gasser revealed a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 18.1 seconds. That’s about on par with the slowest econoboxes of the prior decade, cars like the Pontiac 1000 and Yugo GV. The big off-roader’s top speed was limited to 83 mph by wind drag, which makes sense since the H1 has similar aerodynamics to a split-level ranch house.

About the only vehicle of its era that was slower was the Toyota Mega Cruiser, a Japanese copycat of the Hummer. Powered by a small 4-cylinder diesel, the Mega Cruiser’s published 0 to 60 time is an agonizing 20.6 seconds.

Reliable acceleration specs for the 6.2-liter GM diesel Hummers are difficult to locate, but encycarpedia lists a 0 to 100 kph (62 mph) time of 20.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of 65 mph. Hmmm, maybe that small block Chevy wasn’t the worst alternative after all? In later years, the H1 got more power, culminating in a 2006 Alpha performance package with a 300 horsepower 6.5-liter diesel that achieved 0-60 mph in just 13.5 seconds.

How does the Hummer H1 compare to modern cars?

There’s not really a modern equivalent to the H1 — not a fossil fuel powered equivalent, anyway — but full-size four-wheel drive SUVs like the 2023 Chevy Tahoe Z71 and 2022 Ford Expedition Timberline clock 0 to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds and 5.3 seconds, respectively, per MotorTrend.

Sportier cars like the C8 Corvette can do the deed in just 2.7 seconds under ideal conditions, but the very fastest accelerating cars are all-electric. Telsa’s Model S Plaid and Lucid Air Sapphire can both zip to 60 mph in less than 2 seconds.

Hummer has been reincarnated as an EV

When the Great Recession hit in 2008, General Motors attempted to sell the Hummer brand to Chinese investors. Ultimately, the deal fell through at the last minute, and GM quietly shuttered its bombastic off-road division. Fast forward to 2022 and the Hummer’s triumphant return, albeit as a GMC model, not its own brand. If that wasn’t shocking enough, the humungous SUT (Sport Utility Truck) is actually an EV, with three electric motors totaling 1,000 horsepower.

In spite of its all-electric powertrain, the Hummer EV (HEV) is definitely a kindred spirit to the Hummers of yore. Its chunky coachwork normally rides around with about 10 inches of ground clearance, but when the going gets rough, drivers can deploy Extract Mode. That feature uses the truck’s air suspension to boost ground clearance to an impressive 16 inches for climbing over rocks, logs, and curbs in shopping mall parking lots. Unlike the original Hummer H1, the HEV is wicked fast. Zero to 60 mph comes in just 3.3 seconds, which is remarkable for a truck that weighs nearly 10,000 pounds. Yes, that’s five tons.

For 2024, GMC is giving the Hummer EV a couple of new trims with just two motors rather than three. The two-motor versions still make a respectable 625 hp, but the price tag is slightly more reasonable than the tri-motor (read: less than a hundred grand). There’s also a new SUV body style with an enclosed cargo area to supplement the SUT model. Whichever Hummer EV you choose, rest assured that it’s a worthy successor of its namesake.