2006 Hummer H3
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2009.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.