Thursday, December 3, 2009

2008 Hummer H3

Sometimes some vehicles are forgettable which is why I tried to push out that 2006 Sentra review as soon as possible. There are others I have no idea why I forgotten other than I haven't driven them for a while like this one.

Introduction: The Hummer H3 was introduced in 2005 as GM's smaller Hummer model. While the news media tried to portray this as Hummer attempting to address the ever growing fuel prices, that was not the true purpose of the H3. GM actually wanted the H3 to be a better off-roading vehicle than the clumsy and larger H2 thus they decided to use the Chevrolet Colorado as a base to achieve this goal. The fate of the Hummer H3 is unknown due to the sale of the Hummer division to the Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company Ltd.

I've heard about this vehicle when the idea surfaced and didn't really believe the media when they attempted to portray this SUV as Hummer's more environmentally friendly alternative to the H2. Hummer knows it'll fail attempting to fit that image and to do so would mean to take away much of its off-roading capabilities and become a crossover, yet with something as mean looking as a Hummer it looks awful if it couldn't do anything close to what the military Humvees are capable of.

Performance: The H3 comes with 2 engine choices, a 5-cylinder and a V8. The original H3 had a 3.5L 5-cylinder engine, the H3 I drove had the newer 3.7L 5-cylinder Vortec engine. This 3.7L produces about 242 hp and 242 lb.ft of torque which seems pretty good for a normal car. The H3 despite being smaller than the very heavy H2 is at least 4700 lbs. This weight greatly influences the acceleration, 0-100 km/h takes nearly 11 seconds. I also didn't find the engine to be very refined and thus can't say I enjoyed the performance. If you're thinking of buying a Hummer, the I5 H3 is not quick oh and if you're thinking about fuel economy...assume the worst because the H3 is rather thirsty.

My Score: 3/10 - Not a refined engine, consumes lots of fuel and underpowered for the vehicle

Handling: I mentioned the ridiculously heavy body the H3 has to lug around, as a result cornering is not very good either. While I don't expect SUVs this large to be agile, the H3 is just so heavy that its clear you shouldn't take any corners quickly at all. The suspension is somewhat balanced in stiffness and comfort, too much compromise for comfort would ruin its off-roading ability. There is some steering feel from the chunky wheel so its not totally lacking character and also makes it easier to drive than one would think.

My Score: 3/10 - Its very heavy and as a result corners pretty poorly, suspension is reasonable in its tolerances though and not that difficult to drive.

Interior: The very first thing you will notice about the Hummer's interior is how chunky GM has made some items. Much of the interior for most H3s only comes in black, there are two tones like beige and black but I don't believe anything else. I mentioned the steering wheel first because its rather fat and not made for small hands like mine. The next one is the gear lever for the automatic is very chunky and while I normally rest my hand there on most cars...this one I refrain due to how gigantic it feels. The remaining features are very plain and quite a lot of the gauges came straight from the Colorado which wasn't sophisticated. The seats are decently comfortable although this truck doesn't feel all that large inside despite its exterior. The blind the H3 are very bad, the windows are very small while each pillar is very large with the A pillar being the least intrusive, the B, C and D pillars on the other hand are very intrusive. The tire mounted on the back also intrudes on the already small rear windscreen. Not driver friendly for those who want to see without looking at the front windscreen. As for build quality...I haven't seen many issues so far. H3s sold in North America are built in Shreveport Louisiana, in the United States.

My Score: 3/10 - very plain, not very interesting but surprisingly small inside and rather annoying with poor visibility.

Styling: This is the main reason to buy any Hummer. You basically accept the higher gas bills, the difficulty of parking, the anger of environmentalists and some luxuries in order to have a vehicle that looks like this. Its very mean and menacing, while giving an image if it being very tough and strong. People will put up with the big faults of the H3 just to have these looks. I must admit I do think the military influenced design has worked to this SUV's favour.

My Score: 10/10 - Deep down, everyone would love to have a vehicle that can terrorize other puny vehicles on the road.

Value for money: Unfortunately the H3 is not a very good value for money since there are much cheaper off-roading vehicles that aren't burdened by a very heavy body and as much daily expense as is to run a H3. Even the actual price tag is not going to please since another GM SUV going by the name of the Chevrolet Tahoe is only a few more thousand dollars is much larger has more seating capacity, its much quicker and has very similar fuel bills to boot. You really do have to spend much of your money just to have the style and nothing more.

My Score: 2/10 - The only vehicle out there with these looks, yet a horrible choice when looks are taken out of the equation.

Overall: 21/50 - Not a brilliant SUV, GM is solely relying on mere looks to grab the attention of would-be buyers.

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