Better With a Bed
We are very familiar with the Hummer brand and the Hummer line of vehicles, especially after putting a few H1s, H2s, and H3s through their paces-some more than others. There is something about a stock fullsize SUV on 35s with a locker and rock rails that keeps us coming back for more, no matter how many we might see trolling the streets on 22s with low-profile tires. Hummers aren't just for the street, are they? We thought it would be fun to see what it would be like to live with a Hummer H2, and we especially liked the SUT version with the mini-bed, so we made a call to Hummer and convinced them to send us one, sans running boards, for a yearlong test.
Our Stealth Gray H2 arrived at the office with 1,347 miles on it, and an airtight interior with no squeaks or rattles. People can't stop telling us what a cool color our SUT is and how good it looks with the chrome accents. The base price for this head-turner was $52,205, but our Hummer-optioned with the Lux Series package, an AM/FM/CD/XM/DVD Navigation Bose sound system, air suspension, and trailering convenience package-grew to $60,880.
With a fresh H2 in hand, we decided to break it in at the annual Tierra del Sol event, which is held near California's Salton Sea, at Truckhaven. Out on the trails, the H2 held its own and surprised onlookers with its ability, mostly because of the excellent LT315/70R17 (35-inch) BFG All-Terrains and rear locker. The H2 also has exceptional approach and departure angles that help it to conquer undulating terrain, while the rocker protection really works to keep the H2's slab sides shapeless. We even used our SUT to tow Project Teal J to Moab for the Easter Jeep Safari, where we got a little wheeling in on the slickrock.
Anyone driving our H2 is buried deep within a cavernous black interior and upright glass surroundings. The view out is unlike any vehicle on the market, and gives you a sense of anonymity and separation from the world (which can sometimes make it difficult to judge lines off-pavement), even though people everywhere crane their necks to see who you might be.
Other than limited head room in the rear seat for tall passengers, the wide Hummer will fit four adults in comfort, and a fifth won't upset anyone too much. The front seats are like lounge chairs and have some of the best seat heaters on the market. Despite the shoebox shape, the Hummer presents the occupants with limited wind noise, and is quite comfortable as a cross-country cruiser-especially when equipped with the self-leveling air suspension.
Already we have found use for the bed, working the midgate when we have larger items. The staff has commented on the multitude of 12-volt outlets throughout the vehicle, three on the dash alone. As we mentioned in our 2005 Four Wheeler of the Year test (Feb. '05), the exterior spare-tire carrier is one of the beefiest and most over-engineered examples we have come across, with ease of use without any rattling.
Thanks to full-time AWD and a notable traction control system, the H2 has proven itself in the elements, although some testers have noticed at wide-open throttle, the H2 tends to follow the road imperfections and requires extra driver input. Others wish the transmission had an extra gear for cruising, or passing, since the 6.0L V-8 has heavy weight and a square shape to work against.
With 6,400 miles under our belts (much of it towing), we are getting used to all the stares and are finding all of the useful ways to exercise the H2 in our fleet. Stay tuned for a cross-country staff trip in our H2, in an upcoming issue.
Previous reports: None
Base price: $52,205
Price as tested: $60,880
Four-wheel-drive system: Full-time electronic pushbutton, two-speed
Miles to date: 6,404
Miles since last report: None
Average mpg (this report): 9.7
Test best tank mpg: 12.4
Test worst tank mpg: 6.5 (towing)
5,000 -mile service, cost: $34.72
Problem areas: None
WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT:
Hot: We love the look and color of our H2, especially without side steps. People still turn their heads everywhere our H2 goes. The locker is a great addition to off-pavement driving and the midgate has already proved its usefulness. A perfect complement to the plush interior is the Bose sound system that incorporates AM/FM/XM/CD and DVD-based navigation, a worthwhile option-especially for road trips. We are still trying to figure out how to bolt the spare-tire carrier to our own trail rigs.
Not: The build quality on these newer H2s is light years ahead of the first model year, although the quality of materials on the dash could be better. With such a blunt shape and AWD, the engine works hard to push the big H2 around. The H2's high ride height and tailgate-mounted spare tire create a large blind spot to the rear of the vehicle, as we discovered to our chagrin when we backed right over (and into) the hood of a Toyota Avalon when attempting to pull out of a parking space (the H2 was unscathed). We'd like to see some kind of backup warning system on the H2 as we have seen in other fullsize SUVs.
* "The H2 SUT still gets looks everywhere I go."
* "Three little girls riding pink bikes with streamers just gave me the thumbs up!"
* "The SUT is an ego booster, people I don't know smile and wave at me."
* "The ride is surprisingly quiet and comfortable."
* "You should see how bugs hit the windshield!"
* "XM stereo is tha Bomb!"