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2006 Hummer H3 Review - Long-Term Report

A year of solid service

Sean P. HolmanWriterKen BrubakerPhotographer

Hard to believe a year has gone by and our 2006 H3 has returned to its Detroit home (but not before acting as a support vehicle for Hummer's PR team in Mexico, retracing the original Baja 500 route). Our H3 replaced the H2 SUT in our fleet and we were excited to see what it was like to live with the then-new H3 for a year.

Because of the 3.5L I-5, which won few friends on staff, we opted to equip our H3 with the five-speed manual transmission, which when coupled to the Adventure Package and 4:1 transfer case, give the H3 an impressive 68.9:1 crawl ratio. The Adventure Package also added 33-inch tires, a rear locker, 4.56 gears, and an excellent complement of skidplating and factory rock protection on our model.

Our first-year H3 proved to be a reliable vehicle, only having one warranty issue in nearly 20,000 miles and exhibiting no squeaks or rattles at the end of our test, even after prerunning FWOTY and PTOTY, traveling the Mojave Road, being flogged on various desert excursions and accepting the mission as our steed of choice on our Trail 'N' Tents Tour.

The staff raved about its around-town and highway manners and tight turning radius, as well as decent fuel economy. Our H3 never once disappointed us on the trail, amazing us at the quality of ride and impressing us with the level of capability of IFS. If we had to give the H3 a numerical value for off-roading prowess, we'd say it can do about 95 percent of what the JK Unlimited can do on the trail, but in a tighter, more comfortable and luxurious package, all while being a better everyday vehicle. Which one is better overall? Well, it all comes down to what you are looking for in a rig and we think it is nice to have choices.

Our complaints are the same as those that we have mentioned time and time again, and of which have mostly been fixed in the latest production H3 lineup, which now includes a more powerful 3.7L I-5, the V-8-powered FWOTY winning H3 Alpha, better window switch placement, and an available rear-vision camera system. We would still like to see more interior storage as well as an audio jack or iPod integration for those long trips.

The Hummer H3 ranks up there as one of our favorite long-term vehicles in recent memory and with the constant improvement of brand, the vehicles have only gotten better. We'll look forward to an upcoming year-long test with our 2008 FWOTY winner, the 2008 H3 Alpha and see how the recent improvements affect everyday livability.

Previous report: Dec. '06, March '07, July '07
Base price: $28,935
Price as tested: $37,345
Four-wheel-drive system: Electronic, full-time two-speed

Miles to date: 19,171
Miles since last report: 3,542
Average mpg (this report): 14.94
Test best tank (mpg): 18.61
Test worst tank (mpg): 13.44

2,313-mile service: Alignment
Cost: $49.95
10,743-mile service: Oil service, rotate tires
Cost: $111.10
15,239-mile service: Oil service, rotate tires
Cost: $76.28
Test problem areas: Rollover sensor (replaced under warranty), exhaust manifold vibration, sticky door handles

HOT: Awesome on the trail, high-quality interior, good looks, easy on maintenance
NOT: Power, door has to be shut to reset trip odo, needs more storage, tires susceptible to sidewall punctures

* "I can't wait for the V-8 version, it will make this a nearly perfect machine."
* "The rear locker is great in the dirt, wish we had one in the front too."
* "With a little more power, I think I'd put one in my garage."
* "The big benefit of this engine is the ability to lug it in 4Lo down to about 350 rpm without stalling."
* "I wish the rear seat folded flat so I could sleep in the back."