2006 Hummer H3Posted on June 10th, 2006
The “Baby” Hummer
By Nina Russin
In the world of Hummers, the term ,”little,” is relative. While the H3 or “baby Hummer” is significantly smaller and lighter than the H1, H2, and H2SUT, it’s still a big truck. It weighs 4,700 pounds, and is almost as long as a Honda Pilot.
However, unlike its larger siblings, the H3 will fit in a garage, and is much easier to maneuver into a standard parking space. Equally important is its fuel economy: 16/19 m.p.g. city/highway for the automatic version, as compared to 10-13 miles per gallon (city and highway average) for the H2.
Designed for Extreme Off-Road Driving
The H3 is a comfortable truck to drive around town, but it is really engineered as an off-road vehicle. In fact, the only good reason to buy any Hummer is if you plan to drive it off-road on a regular basis.
ALV juror, Sue Mead, recently joined a group of Hummer owners in an evacuation program for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Hummers’ water-fording and off-road capabilities enabled these drivers to safely go into areas that would be off-limits to most cars and trucks.
On a similar note, the H3 can navigate the sort of treacherous wilderness terrain that few other vehicles can handle. The H3 can ford up to 2 feet of water, climb a 60 percent grade and remain stable on a side slope of up to 40 degrees.
It has a minimum ground clearance of 9 inches and gobs of wheel travel, which enables the Hummer to climb up steps and rocks 16-inches tall, and maneuver through deep sand.
What makes the H3 unique is that it offers the off-road capability of its larger siblings, but in a more compact package. It has a tighter turning radius, a lower step-in height, a user-friendly interior, and a pretty functional cargo space.
Unlike the H1 and H2, it is also short enough to fit inside the average garage, and narrow enough to allow room for a second full-sized vehicle.
Driving the H3 on a busy highway during rush hour was a good test of its maneuverability.
One pleasant surprise was the visibility to the side which is much better than on other Hummer models. This may be a result of the H3’s lower ride height (overall height is almost 7-inches shorter than the H2). Track, the width between the wheels, is over 4-inches narrower, which makes a huge difference in the vehicle’s ability to navigate narrow city streets.
The five-cylinder engine has plenty of pep, due to variable valve timing that also enhances fuel economy. The four-speed automatic transmission is one of GM’s best products: it is smooth shifting and extremely durable for those who want to tow heavy loads.
The H3 is the least expensive model in the Hummer line-up. Pricing starts just under $30,000. The test truck which came with automatic transmission and a luxury interior package cost $38,210, including the destination and delivery charge.
The Only Hummer with a Choice of Two Transmissions
At the heart of the new Hummer is an inline 5-cylinder engine rated at 220 horsepower with 225 lbs-ft. of torque. The H3 is the only Hummer available with a choice of 5-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
The H3 achieves its maximum fuel economy (up to 20 m.p.g. highway) with the manual gearbox. All models come an electronically-controlled four-wheel drive system, traction control and underbody shielding to protect the powertrain from rocks, roots and other protrusions.
The automatic transmission models come with standard electronic stability control. An optional locking rear differential helps the driver to maintain traction and directional control on extremely uneven terrain.
There are two available wheel and tire packages: a standard Goodyear 32-inch tire, and a Bridgestone 33-inch off-road tire that comes with an optional performance off-road package.
In addition to being much easier to step in and out of, the H3 is also a friendlier truck to live in. The front seats are comfortable for drivers of all sizes, and visibility is good all the way around the vehicle, despite relatively short windows and windshield.
An eight-way adjustable driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar support and heated front seats on the test truck were part of the luxury package, priced at $3,125. A large electric sliding sunroof (also optional) lets ambient light into what might otherwise be a dark interior.
There are plenty of bins and cubbies around the front seats to hold bottles and small packages. The center console includes two cupholders large enough for water bottles and a deep bin that will hold compact discs or a small pack. The doors have map pockets but not bottle holders.
Temperature and audio controls are easy to reach from either the driver’s or front passenger seat and easy to figure out.
The H3 is rated as a 5-passenger vehicle. The second-row seats fold completely flat to create a load floor up to 63-inches in length.
While it is certainly long and wide enough to hold a goodly amount of luggage or a few road bikes with the front wheels removed, the cargo area is only 37 inches tall. Fortunately the H3 comes standard with roof rails and cross bars to mount oversized cargo.
The baby Hummer can tow up to 4,500 pounds: well in excess of our minimum ALV criteria.
A Hummer for the Real World
From both an economic and functional stance, the H3 is the most practical model in the Hummer line-up for most city dwellers. It is smaller and easier to drive, and gets much better gas mileage than the other Hummer models, while still offering the technology to give it exceptional off-road ability.
Standard safety features on the H3 include antilock brakes and OnStar with automatic crash notification. Side curtain airbags, a rollover protection system and tire pressure monitoring system are available as options.
Likes: The most maneuverable and fuel economical model in the Hummer line-up, the H3 is a viable truck for city-dwellers who like to venture far off the beaten path.
Dislikes: Fuel economy, while much better than other Hummer models, is still relatively poor. By comparison, the VW V6 Touareg averages 21 m.p.g. on the highway with an automatic transmission. Cargo area is not tall enough to stow certain odd-shaped items. Doors do not have bottle openers. Power seats have manual rather than power seatback adjustments.
Base price: $28,935
Price as tested: $36,210
Horsepower: 220 @ 5600 r.p.m.
Torque: 225 @ 2800 r.p.m.
0 to 60: 9.3 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Option
First aid kit: No
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 16/19 m.p.g. city/highway
Comments: The Hummer H3 is the first Hummer with a standard manual transmission. The roof rack with crossbows is part of a dealer-installed chrome appearance package that also includes chrome exterior mirror caps and door handles ($850).
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