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2009 Hummer H3T Review - First Drive

The Hummer H3Truck? Toss In The Kids, The Dog, And Gear For A Week

The ManufacturersPhotographerChris CollardPhotographer, Writer

Back When the hammer H3 was introduced, we lamented the lack of power from the five-cylinder mill, and the need for additional drivetrain options and a front locking diff. The Hummer guys were listening though, and responded with the H3 Alpha (First Drive, Jan. '08), which sports a 5.3l V-8, but no front locker. But we still wanted bigger tires, regular cogs behind the V-8, a front locker, and maybe even an sUT or a diesel mill. it was only a matter of time before the highly capable H3 followed its genetic destiny. Enter the H3T, a four-door shortbox pickup, with lockers front and rear!

We were fortunate enough to tag along on a recent engineering testdrive where components are validated, yet the looks are camouflaged for secrecy. By the time you read this, the beast will have been exposed, but we're the first to give you our impressions of the new Hummer. While obviously longer than a regular H3, the shortbox can still carry plenty of gear, especially with the tailgate down. The rear camo makes the unit look more like a suburban than a pickup, while the front camo covers up nothing you haven't seen before.

On the blacktop, the additional length of the H3T with its 134-inch wheelbase (23 inches longer that the H3) is immediately noticeable, adding an enhanced feeling of stability at speed. On long grades, the 295-horse 5.3l did as we expected, pulling the additional weight onfidently and without protest. The rigwith the five-cylinder i-5 still required pegging the tach and quick shifts to keep up.

On the trail, our immediate thought was that the 134-inch wheelbase would require a football stadium to do a U-turn. However, the engineering team was two steps ahead of us with a tight-ratio steering box that almost makes turns as tightly as the shorter H3. The flip side of the additional length is a reduced breakover angle and a strong argument for the heavy-duty skidplates. With both lockers engaged, the five-cylinder model mated with the fivespeed worked flawlessly in the rocks, as did the V-8. Both versions of the Adventure package are equipped with the 4:1 transfer case and lockers fore and aft, and provided a solid feel for the terrain. Once we get a chance, we'll test them with the camo off and let you know about visibility as well.

Unfortunately, the H3T will still be burdened with the full array of electronic bells, whistles, bling, curtain airbags, child safety locks, DVD players, satellite babysitters, and other electronic nannies. But the heart of the beast is within, and the fact that you can slip your quad or a ton of gear in the bed, put a couple of kids in the backseat, and have dual-lockers right out of the box is a big plus in our books.

ENGINE 5.3L aluminum block/head V-8
HORSEPOWER {{{300}}} @ 5,{{{200}}} rpm
TORQUE (LB-FT) 320 @ 4,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 4L60 four-speed auto
  Five-speed stick (I-5 only)
AXLE RATIO 4.10 :1
LOCKERS Electric, front and rear
FUEL 87-octane unleaded
LENGTH (IN) 211.9
WIDTH (IN) 85.5
HEIGHT (IN) 74.5
HEAD ROOM (IN) 39.9/40.6 with sunroof
LEG ROOM (IN) 41.9/35.0

It's Risky To Hand A 4x4 Journalist The Keys To a proof of Concept vehicle (there were only five made), but Hummer likes to work out the bugs in real-world conditions. We quickly found the e-brake cable routed under the frame (and so did a wheelbarrow sized rock), and a tailpipe that is begging for trouble. D'oh!! With the longer wheelbase of the H3T (134 inches), we beat the heck out of the undercarriage. Fortunately, the truck has 1-inch-square tube skidplates that are actually built to take it. The Adventure package also includes heavy-duty rock sliders. if you are going to be doing any modest wheeling, get 'em. Even with good tires and lockers front and rear, the breakover angle of the long truck makes these sliders mandatory off road.

There are rumblings of additional mill options for 2009 and 2010. yes, flex fuel, or bio-fuel. Working from their r&D facility in Brazil (Brazil leads the world with flex-fuel technology), the Hummer engineers are anticipating the introduction of a flex-fuel H2 for '09, the H3 following suit in '10. We've also seen diesel versions of the H3, but not for the U.s. market-yet. We are still whining about the limited visibility from behind the wheel, and we didn't get the V-8/five-speed stick combo, but there were some serious campfire discussions about removable tops, half-doors, and ragtops.