2003 New Car Review: Hummer H2


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SEE ALSO: Hummer Buyer's Guide

THE AUTO PAGE By JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS

MODEL: Hummer H2

ENGINE: 6.0-liter V8

HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 315 hp @ 5200 rpm/360 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

TRANSMISSION: Four-speed automatic

WHEELBASE: 122.8 in.

LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 189.8 x 81.2 x 77.8 in.

STICKER PRICE: $60,000 (est.)

Well, the General does know what he's doing. General Motors saw an icon in the making and bought the Hummer name from American General. The idea was to create and market Hummers other than the military-based H1 that American General markets. Those of us who are not great fans of the H1 were wondering what the new vehicle would look like.

As any of you who have seen the H2 on the road can attest, the vehicle is very obviously a relative to the H1. But it's a ton more practical.

Based on the Tahoe platform, which in itself is a pretty decent machine, the H2 took all its styling cues from its big brother. So from the start, here is a vehicle that will appeal to the Arnold Schwartzneggers of the world.

I am not a fan of H1 styling, but the H2 takes the general design theme and makes it more appealing. This isn't a "pretty in pink" version of the H1, but one that has all the physical attributes of the military version cleaned up for civilian use. H2 is a vehicle I'd take to the country club; H1 I'd leave home in favor of a Kia.

But the H2 is a usable vehicle. For one, you can actually hold conversations with the passengers in the H2. The engine is a 6.0-liter GM Vortec V8 instead of a diesel of gigantic proportions. And it's located up front under the hood, not in between the passengers. So there's more usable space inside the vehicle.

H2 is a true five-passenger vehicle, where H1 was good for only four. And these passengers will have comfortable seats, not cramped ones as in the H1. Behind the seats is a cargo area that is listed at 40 cubic feet, but a lot of that area is taken up by the inside-mounted spare tire.

I think H2 earns its stripes primarily by having excellent ride quality. Constant readers will note that I have liked the Tahoe platform for a while, and there's no reason to change that opinion with the Hummer. You can go down a highway and have a smooth ride, which is what you want on a highway.

But H2 is also a great performer off road. While we didn't have the opportunity in our extended test, we did drive an H2 at General Motors' Proving Grounds in Midland, Michigan, and they have an obstacle course set up that would test any vehicle's abilities. The most impressive part of the course to me was a series of steps. The first is six inches high, the second 12, the third 18 and the fourth 24. You're not going to run into too many obstacles that you'll really have to clear that will be taller than that. The H2 cleared all heights (in Low-Low 4WD gearing), and drove away with a smile.

In addition, the H2 can climb a 60-degree grade, and can handle a 40-degree side grade. That means you're almost looking at the ground and theH2 can still negotiate. That's due to the relatively low overall height and wide width. H2 also has a 40-41 degree approach angle (depending on shocks) and a 38-39.6-degree departure angle. These are serious off-road numbers.

Some H2s we have seen have had low-hanging exhaust systems that would compromise the vehicle's ability to deal with off-road situations, but our tester, and all the H2s we've seen at GM have plenty of road clearance. Maybe the "low hanging" H2s were vehicles that had been modified in some way.

H2 also has more normal 17-inch all-terrain tires, rather than the 20-inch tires on the H1. Granted, 17-inch aren't cheap, but they're a lot easier on the wallet than the bigger ones.

Fuel economy is poor, as you'd expect from a vehicle of this size. We averaged around 10 mpg, but still that was more than the H1. The shocker came when we had to fill the 32-gallon tank. Ow.

GM is also stretching the pallet with the H2. Our tester was an orange-red that was attractive. We've seen yellow and all the more normal colors as well.

The Hummer H2 isn't for everyone. But it's for a lot more people, in my estimation, than the H1 was.

© 2002 The Auto Page Syndicate

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