There are few 4x4s as imposing as an H2. You can't roll through a small town or stop for gas without creating a scene. Pedestrians stop in their tracks, little kids point and working women on their lunch break can't resist one quick glance. It's big, it's bright, and you won't miss it coming. It may not be subtle, but it is distinctly American-all H2s are made in Mishawaka, Indiana. The SUT (Sport Utility Truck) has much in common with the standard H2. It has the same towing capacity, same payload, same GVWR, same fuel tank, same remarkable breakover angle of 26.6 degrees-but there are also significant differences.
The H2 SUT is essentially a standard H2 in which the third-row seating has been converted to a pickup box. The cargo box is 20x34x59 inches wide, large enough to be useful, but small enough that four passengers can still be carried inside with comfort. The bed and interior are separated by a midgate. When longer cargo is at hand, the power rear window can be lowered into the midgate, and the gate folds forward, creating a 4x6-foot pickup bed. The bed is equipped with rubber mats, and a locking hard tonneau is available as an option.
The new configuration comes with the self-leveling, variable-rate air-spring suspension, 46mm monotube gas shocks and 32mm stabilizer bar, which is optional on the standard H2.
In essence, the cargo box adds total volume capacity while reducing interior volume. The configuration also slightly reduces the angle of departure with the spare-tire carrier, from 40 degrees to 36.5 degrees. Perhaps more important, the configuration permits an open-air feeling, like driving a convertible, when all five windows and the sunroof are opened.
The onboard air compressor made the H2 SUT the only vehicle in our fleet that could air up its own tires after we hit the dunes, where it was also the vehicle we used to pull out whatever was stuck, because of its multiple tow points and truly functional recovery hardware.
On the trail the SUT was methodical, its progress very controllable, and it steps over ruts and rocks that smaller SUVs might contact. We marveled at the spare-tire carrier, which has to be the beefiest, most over-engineered tire carrier in the universe.
The tires, LT315/70R17 all-terrains, were the biggest of our test units, and some of the best for our purposes. Equipped with a rear locking differential and electronic traction control, the H2 was readily able to walk up the steepest hills and rockiest trails. Angles of approach and departure are so favorable, and the tires so large, that the H2 can be driven in a straight line over obstacles that other 4x4s would need to steer around.
People think driving an H2 might be tiring, but the Hummer is actually quite pleasant on pavement. It tracks straight and true, cruises in a relaxed manner and is stable at speed. The audio system is Bose, and the NAV system is DVD-based, with touch-screen controls. The heating and cooling system is separate from the NAV system, so the operator is not forced to cycle through several screens to adjust the temperature.
While there is more wind and tire noise than the sleeker vehicles in our test, the H2 SUT is a fine cruiser at normal speeds on flat highways. It has a cavernous, comfortable interior, eight-way seats and plenty of room to stretch out. However, on steeper highways it can take time for the 6.0L V-8 to spool up to pass, especially apparent on the 8,000-foot grades we drove. At times, significant rolling resistance, plus the high altitude, will combine to slow this big-rig 4x4.
We discovered all five windows could be controlled with one express button. So if you hit some dust on a dirt road, you can also bring all five back up instantly.
Testers gave the H2 low scores for maneuverability, because it had the largest (43.5-foot) turning radius, the largest overall width and because of the difficulty the driver has keeping track of all four corners.
The H2 SUT feels wide on the average trail, and it is. At 81.2 inches, it is the widest of the test. Out in the open, that width is not an issue, but on tighter trails, we had to take more care to keep away from brush and branches. In some spots, it was impossible.
Several testers noted they had to use the brakes on really steep downhills. The brakes-four-wheel discs with dual piston calipers-are certainly up to the job. But new standards had been set by some other 4x4s in the test, which with lower crawl ratios and electronic descent control, could walk down the same hills without touching the brake.
The H2 SUT had the best approach and departure angles, the fourth best crawl ratio, fourth best ground clearance, fifth best towing capacity and the largest turning circle. Testers awarded points for excellent underbody protection and outstanding hook point accessibility, and also for tire size and quality. The H2 SUT lost points on performance in the sand and maneuverability, and did not shine especially brightly on washboard roads. In the end, it was outscored by three truly outstanding 4x4s, each of which offered an equal degree of trail potential, in faster, quieter, more maneuverable packages.
* "Crawls nicely in low range. It just goes to show you what good ground clearance, wide footprint, and good all-terrain tread can do. Locking rear diff doesn't hurt, either."
* "The more time I spend in the seat, the more impressed I am with the way it handles rocky trails. Just idles over everything."