2007 Hummer H3

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2006 Hummer H3

This 2006 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2009.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

New lower-cost, more user-friendly Hummer.
Pros:
  • Unique Hummer styling
  • User-friendly
  • Off-road prowess
Cons:
  • Only five cylinders
  • Challenging entry and exit
  • Bulky spare tire on cargo door

If any Hummer makes sense for general civilian use, it would have to be the new Hummer H3, which is smaller, less expensive and more fuel-efficient than other Hummers.

The $100,000-plus Hummer H1 is a military vehicle too raw for civilian use. The swaggering civilian H2 is far more civilized than the H1. But it costs approximately $52,000 and is a gas-guzzler that is too large for easy driving or parking in congested areas.

The considerably smaller H3 costs $28,935 and is so user-friendly that it almost makes you feel as if you're in one of General Motors's smaller sport-utility vehicles or pickup trucks if you close your eyes and forget for a moment that you're in a Hummer. That's because General Motors owns Hummer and the H3 is based on Chevrolet's fairly small Colorado pickup truck.

Traditional Hummer Styling
Traditional Hummer styling makes the H3 look nearly as big as the H2, as long as there is no H2 around for comparison purposes. The H3 has the same assault vehicle styling of the H2, with an extremely vertical windshield, round headlights in square holes, a 7-slot grille and a spare tire on the cargo door.

The H3 is nearly 17 inches shorter overall than the H2 and is about the length of a midsize sedan. It's also 6.5 inches narrower and 4 inches lower, with about an 11-inch shorter wheelbase, or distance between axles.

Holding Costs Down
The H3 uses the Colorado pickup truck chassis and drivetrain to keep costs down and increase fuel economy ratings. But it's beefed up and has additional ground clearance and underbody shielding to help give it a Hummer's remarkable off-road abilities. It's said to do as well as an H2 when fording 24-inch-deep streams or climbing over rocks and other off-road obstacles

A full-time all-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing and locking center differential help off-road driving, and that drive system provides more grip on slippery roads.

Diehard off-roaders should get the $1,025 Adventure Preferred Equipment option. It has a locking rear differential, low-ratio transfer case, off-road suspension and on-off road tires.

However, that package can't be ordered with the shiny $800 chrome alloy wheels, which don't make sense for off-road travel but will be hard for some H3 buyers to resist.

Tempting Options
My test H3 had the chrome wheels and the $3,125 Luxury option group, which has such items as leather upholstery, heated power front seats and an upscale sound system with a 6-disc CD changer. It also was equipped with $325 satellite radio and an $850 chrome Appearance package with chrome door handles and outside mirror caps and roof rack.

Not surprisingly, with all its extras, my test H3's list price was $36,925. And it didn't even have such options as the $800 power sunroof or $395 head-protecting side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors.

Well Equipped
However, the H3 has a good amount of standard equipment. It includes air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt wheel, an AM/FM/CD player and power mirrors, windows and locks with remote keyless entry. There also are split-folding back seats, a rear wiper-washer and even a tire pressure monitor.

I had no chance to take the H3 off-road, but the standard traction control helped during slippery on-road driving, as did the huge tires, anti-lock brakes and tight 37-foot turning circle.

Those wanting more stability can get the GM Stabilitrak anti-skid system, which comes with the $1,695 automatic transmission. Alas, the transmission is just a 4-speed unit instead of a more modern 5-speed automatic.

First Manual Transmission
This is the first Hummer offered with a manual gearbox, although that transmission is not available with Stabilitrak. It's a 5-speed unit that might be a bother for those who don't like shifting during in-town driving. But it should work especially well for off-roaders who get the Adventure group with its special transfer case.

Steering and handling are fine. The ride is generally composed, but can become truck-like on some roads. After all, this is a truck. The brake pedal has a nice linear action that allows smooth stops, but braking distances are average.

John-Wayne Tall
Climbing in and getting out with any grace calls for above-average agility because the H3 stands John-Wayne tall. It helps to be at least 6-feet tall with long legs. One female acquaintance took one look at the H3 and said, "I wouldn't try to get in or out of that thing with a short skirt." Narrow rear door openings don't help, but occupants sit high once aboard.

The slippery $595 tubular side steps on my test Hummer looked good, but were too narrow to be anything but a hindrance when getting in or out. I suspect the $520 running boards aren't much, if any, better—judging by my experience with them on other GM vehicles.

Only Five Cylinders
Hummer was shooting for at least a 20-mpg highway rating with the H3 because the H2 is such a fuel hog. That's partly why the H3 has a 3.5-liter engine with only five cylinders. The H3 met the target, delivering an estimated 20 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission. The figure is 19 mpg with the automatic.

Acceleration is decent—at least with just a driver aboard—because the engine produces 220 horsepower with dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It has variable valve timing to help it be more responsive at various engine speeds.

The H3 hits 60 mph from a standing start in 10.5 seconds and exhibits an acceptable 65-75 mph passing time. But the H3 could use a 6-cylinder or V8 for more punch if loaded with people and cargo because it's pretty heavy at about 4,700 pounds.

Fuel Economy Payoff
However, the payoff with five cylinders is the best Hummer fuel economy. The H2 gets approximately 9 to 11 mpg in the city and is lucky to reach the low teens on highways. The estimated city figure with the H3 is 16 mpg with either transmission.

The H3 interior looks upscale, especially with the Luxury package. Gauges can be easily read and there are supportive seats, handy dual front cupholders and large, easily reached controls. However, the front console bin and glove compartment are small.

Roomy Interior
Hummer calls the H3 a 5-seater. But, while there's good room for four tall adults, the center of the rear seat is uncomfortable for a fifth occupant.

The opening for the cargo area is rather high, but that area is large and its size can be increased by flipping the back seats forward—although they don't fold far enough to allow a totally flat cargo floor. The bulky full-size spare tire attached to the swing-open cargo door makes that door difficult to open, especially if the H3 is parked at an angle.

The tire obstructs driver vision through the back window and thus makes the large outside rearview mirrors especially helpful. They can be folded against the side glass when garaging the wide H3 or when protecting them from damage in parking lots.

The H3 isn't for everyone, but it's more acceptable for daily use than the H2. Its price, size, fuel economy and unique image should attract new Hummer buyers. And it hasn't abandoned the off-road prowess that is a strong Hummer selling point.

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BB06 - 4/25/2014 12:54:49 AM