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2008 Hummer H3 Alpha Review -Long Term Report

The SUV For All Occasions

Long-term testing is in full swing for our 2008 Four Wheeler of the Year winner, and the results from the staff have been positive. Not only is the H3 a great trail machine, but it is proving to be a capable family hauler and commuter as well. While we haven't spent much time on the trail this report, we have been finding that the H3 has endearing qualities in everyday life.

The H3 is a great daily driver, with exceptional maneuverability that is aided by a turning radius as tight as a small car. Seat comfort has also been praised, as well as the ride, thanks to big cushy sidewalls of the 33-inch Bridgestone Duelers. Having lots of tire also helps on the mean streets of Los Angeles, where car-destroying potholes that are a regular part of the daily drive are shrugged off by the H3.

With plenty of room in the second row, passengers and car seats have space to spare. The cargo area also is big enough to swallow bulky items like diaper bags and strollers, or tow straps and tools. We only wish, as we have commented in the past, that the H3 had more storage cubbies to put our keys, wallet, iPhone, BlackBerry, and all the other things we regularly carry with us.

So far the satisfying 5.3L OHV V-8 has been delivering decent fuel economy in mostly stop and go driving, with a great note under full throttle and at idle. It doesn't overpower the H3, but feels very balanced in this application, although we'd love to see it backed by GM's new six-speed automatic transmission instead of the venerable four-speed.

While we have enjoyed having the H3 Alpha in our driveway, our testers have repeatedly noted a few qualms in the logbook, including a slightly clunky shifter and a large rearview mirror that hinders forward visibility. Despite the shape and high beltline, testers actually feel the H3 has better visibility than our long-term FJ Cruiser, commenting that it is easier to maneuver in tight places, helped by the rear-vision camera.

The Hummer H3 doesn't have a set maintenance schedule; rather, it relies on an oil-life reminder, and we haven't been notified that service is due yet. Our five-cylinder 2006 Hummer H3 long-termer required oil changes about every 10,000 miles, so we're expecting a trip to the dealer during the next report. One other thing we'll have checked at the dealership is a sticky ignition that likes to keep keys, often requiring a jiggle of the shifter for the mechanism to release them.

We plan on getting the H3 back on the trail before our next report and can't wait to explore some new trails with our families in tow.

Report: 2 of 4
Previous reports: Oct. '07
Base price: $38,645
Price as tested: $43,090
Four-wheel-drive system: Two-speed, full-time electronic, shift on the fly

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 6,298
Miles since last report: 3,243
Average mpg (this report): 12.83
Test best tank (mpg): 17.27
Test worst tank (mpg): 10.48

Problem areas: Ignition switch

What's Hot, What's Not
Hot: V-8 power, excellent maneuverability, room for the family
Not: Clunky shifter, ignition switch that likes to hold on to keys

Logbook Quotes
* "Seats are very comfortable."
* "I have found the shifter to be a bit clunky."
* "Someone tell Hummer to move the reverse camera display screen from the mirror to the nav."
* "Turning radius is better than any vehicle I've driven, awesome maneuverability."
* "You have to give the shift lever a little extra nudge into park in order for the ignition to release the key."