We received a last-minute invite this year to join up again with Rod Hall Racing and Team Hummer to participate in the 40th anniversary of the Baja 1000, and there wasn't a more suitable choice in our long-term fleet than our 2008 FWOTY winner, the Hummer H3 Alpha.
Not only is our H3 Alpha the same model that Chad Hall used to win his class (as well as the championship) in the 1000 this year, but it provides the ruggedness that the Baja terrain demands, as well as a comfortable place to cover the hundreds of miles necessary to chase the race truck between our own rides in the race.
The H3's toughness was well illustrated as we were chasing for the team and came around a corner at about 30 mph only to find ourselves in the midst of a booby trap that was over 3 feet deep and 15 feet long. So deep, in fact, that it converted our forward momentum into vertical momentum as we dropped into the hole, rebounded up crashing out of it, much to the enjoyment of the 15 or so Mexicans who were videotaping the whole ordeal.
As we looked over the H3 for what was sure to be major damage, we were surprised to see that our Hummer took it, and then some, with no damage to be found, not even a steering wheel out of alignment. Now that is tough! Over miles of whooped-out roads, sandy washes, and broken pavement, the H3 remained composed, never getting stuck or experiencing shock fade.
We also enjoyed the ability to turn the stability control completely off, leaving the driving to our own skills in the backcountry, but found it could be re-engaged at the push of the button when we found ourselves a little too fast and a little too sideways on a primitive road.
Very few complaints were entered in the log this quarter, but they centered around the usual comments about storage and visibility. We're still waiting for our iPod interface too, but until that improvement makes it to the H3, we have been satisfied with our satellite radio-especially while out on the Mexican peninsula.
Overall the H3 Alpha has proven to be a capable day-to-day family hauler, as well as the weekend getaway rig of choice for those in search of a little adventure. As our long-term test winds down, we plan on getting our H3 out on the trail as much as possible, because it is not always a sure thing that we'll have a stock vehicle this capable in our long-term fleet
Report: 3 of 4
Previous reports: Oct. '08, Feb. '09
Base price: $38,645
Price as tested: $43,090
Four-wheel-drive system: Two-speed, full-time electronic, shift on the fly
Miles to date: 11,203
Miles since last report: 4,905
Average mpg (this report): 13.56
Test best tank (mpg): 17.27
Test worst tank (mpg): 12.0
Oil change, tire rotation
Problem areas: None
What's Hot, What's Not
HOT: Durable in extreme environments, maneuverable, V-8 grunt
NOT: No storage, rear seats don't fold flat, giant rearview mirror
* "Well I can't plug in my iPod anywhere, but the XM is great in Mexico."
* "I have been driving all day over every terrain Baja can throw at you, including on the race course, and the H3 has yet to disappoint."
* "This has got to be one of the best stock 4x4 SUVs ever made."
* "I am glad there is no iPod plug because there is no place to put the actual iPod."
* "Just got in the H3 after its return over the border and it smells like Holman and Pw lived in it for a month."