Two years ago, the Hummer H1, based on the military Humvee, was joined by the all-new Hummer H2. The H2 is based on GM's heavy-duty pickup trucks, but highly modified for increased off-road capability. Longer and taller than the original H1, the H2 is built at a new plant in Indiana. For 2005, the Hummer H2 SUV is joined by a second model called the SUT or Sport Utility Truck.
The SUT version, as its name implies, is a pickup, not an SUV, characterized by its unique tailgate, short pickup bed, and tailgate-mounted full-size spare tire, which makes it a few inches longer than the SUV overall. The SUT features GM's innovative Midgate, which quickly converts the five-passenger SUV with a small pickup bed to a two-seat pickup with six-foot bed.
The Hummer H2 offers truly impressive off-road capabilities. And unlike the H1, it provides occupants with a luxurious interior that's comfortable and convenient. Its size and design makes suitable for everyday use, as long as you have a large gasoline budget.
Hummer H2 SUV ($50,950); SUT ($51,995)
There is no mistaking the Hummer 2 for anything else. The H2 looks a lot like the original Hummer, now called the H1. GM designers took as many functional cues from the big Hummer as they could reasonably get away with on a 122.8-inch wheelbase heavy-duty pickup truck chassis. That includes the fake air intake boxes at the trailing edge of the hood. The chrome seven-slot grille is its signature, along with square corners, roof rack, flat glass, flat panel architecture, huge tires, and grab handles everywhere.
The rear end is subdued compared to the rest of the truck, with a Hummer-stamped rear bumper cover and lots of square corners. The SUT version gets the outside spare as an identifier.
Both the SUV and SUT are four-door models.
You can plug in the optional Warn winch at either end because the H2 comes with hitch receivers and wiring looms on both front and rear. Both receivers accommodate a regular Class-III trailer hitch, providing flexibility for such tasks as pulling a boat out of the water or backing a trailer into a tight spot. Large, military-style retrieval loops are on the back bumper and twin tow loops are on the front.
The SUT has short overhangs for radical approach and departure angles, but not as short at the rear because the spare tire has been moved outside and the spare tire rack also adds length at the rear, slightly compromising its off-road performance on the same wheelbase as the SUV, but offering a great deal more interior room. With the spare tire carrier and spare tire on the back, the SUT version has an additional set of taillamps set in the rear bumper in order to meet federal regulations. Not surprisingly, the outside spare tire carrier is now an option on the SUV version to open up more interior space.
H2 is 81.5 inches wide, 1.5 inches over the legal limit for clearance lights, so it comes with five lights on the roof fore and aft to comply with federal law. Its big, square, chromed mirrors don't make much noise at highway cruising speeds, which we appreciated. They also have heat, reverse-down, and a power fold feature that protects the mirrors off-road and narrows the truck's width for traversing narrow spaces.
The interior is a bold design with lots of metallic flavorings here and there, black-on-white gauges shared with the high-end GM SUVs, and decent seats. Overall, the interior works pretty well. The small vertical side glass makes you want to hunch over, making for an intimate cabin.
The SUV offers little cargo space due to its low roofline and the huge spare tire and wheel bolted into the back seat area. Maximum cargo space is listed as 86.6 cubic feet with all the rear seats folded down, short of some of its competitors, such as the new Range Rover, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz G500, Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus LX 470.
The SUT features a folding midgate and folding rear seat that yield a 4x6-foot cargo space offering 52.7 cubic feet of space. The box measures 34.7 inches (2.9 feet) in length with the Midgate up, 72.8 inches (6 feet) with the Midgate folded down. The cargo box isn't very tall (51.4 inches).
Seats are thick, comfortable and supportive and keep you centered when driving off-road at odd angles. The shifter is a bit of design overkill, with a big, round, shiny handle that's meant to bring macho indoors but takes up space doing it.
The newly available touch-screen navigation system maps routes in 2-D or 3-D color maps on a 5.8-inch display. Enter an address and a route map is generated with turn-by-turn instructions and audio guidance in English or French. Drivers can instruct the navigation system to plan a route using the shortest path or major roads.
We were astonished at the high level of speech articulation across the truck from left to right and front to back. It was easy to have a relatively long-distance conversation from the back seat of the Hummer at 75 miles an hour, and there was enough seat adjustment and rear-seat leg room that I could have sat behind myself, which is terrific since I'm almost 6-foot, 4-inches tall. Compared to this, the big Hummer is both short-coupled and loud inside.
It takes a healthy step up to get into the Hummer unless you use one of the two available step-plate options. And there is an unusually high liftover height at the rear floor. You don't get 10 inches of ground clearance without paying for it, and the truck ends up not very friendly to those of moderate stature. But you do get six 12-volt power points, fore (3), aft (2), and in the rear bumper (1). The rear-view mirror self-dims automatically. Glass is all Solar Ray glass, which cuts heat and UV transmission.
The single best feature of the Hummer 2 is its powertrain. The 6.0-liter V8 makes 325 horsepower in this chassis and 365 pound-feet of torque, enough to move this 6,400-pound behemoth from 0 to 60 mph in about 10 seconds. Perhaps more important, it can tow 6,500 pounds or carry 2,200 pounds of cargo.
The engine drives through GM's 4L65-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic overdrive transmission, the Borg-Warner 44-84 transfer case with a 40/60 front/rear torque bias, and steep 4.10:1 axle ratios. Fuel economy is not the H2's strong suit. The range is about 350 miles, based on a 32-gallon fuel tank and about 11 miles per gallon under ideal conditions. But power and torque are plentiful, the engine is well muffled and quiet. If you need to take a look under the hood, the H2's hood opens from the rear.
The body-on-frame Hummer 2 uses torsion-bar front suspension and a fully independent five-link rear suspension taken from the latest generation of GM's midsize sport utilities. It uses conventional coil springs and shock absorbers. However, there is an optional air suspension system that can make difficult off-roading somewhat more comfortable; the system self-levels the truck and lowers it 0.7 inches.
Underway, the Hummer 2 feels more nimble than it should given its considerable heft. The relatively quick steering is helped out by one of the smallest turning circles in the segment at 43.5 feet. The tires are the Hummer 2's first form of suspension, and they help provide a plush ride on road, but with a lot of control and stability off road. Its handling isn't what we'd call precise, however.
Brakes on a serious SUV require more than enough power to stop from 70 mph when fully loaded and pulling a trailer. Brakes on a serious SUV also demand the extra good pedal feel and system feel that make challenging off-road conditions easier on the nerves. Even when soaking wet, these brakes performed flawlessly, with lots of pedal feedback. ABS comes standard and allows the driver to maintain steering control in an emergency braking situation.
The Hummer 2 offers amazing capability off road. The H2 will drive straight up a 16-inch vertical wall from a standstill. It'll drive over a 16-inch diameter log. It can wade through 20 inches of water. It'll easily drive up a wet 60-degree hill, at a 40-degree angle if necessary. We've never driven a big production SUV that was this good off-road.
It uses a specialized Borg-Warner transfer case with two-stage traction control. With this system, you get pushbutton range shifting for high and low ranges, with or without rear differential locking, and a drive system that allows any one wheel with traction to propel the truck by using ABS circuitry to stop and start the rotation of the tires. The TC2 special-conditions strategy allows all four tires to spin freely at high rpm, needed on some loose or slick surfaces.
Huge LT315/70R17 BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires were easy to steer on highway and off. As big as they are, with that much contact patch on the road, the tires were surprisingly quiet at highway cruising speeds. There's an optional onboard compressor and hose fittings (that comes with the air suspension) to enable deflating and reinflating tires as road and surface conditions dictate.
The Hummer H2 is extremely capable off-road. On the road, it's a behemoth, in terms of size and weight and gets poor fuel economy. It's surprisingly comfortable, reasonable powerful and can perform the heavy-duty hauling and pulling duties of a truck. It's a bargain given its price.
Hummer sales have slowed since its introduction. Adding the SUT pickup to the existing SUV version broadens the appeal for recreationally oriented buyers.
The SUT is not nearly as utilitarian as it looks, with limited pass-through size at the midgate, but if you have to haul small, messy stuff a lot, it may be the version that best suits your needs. We'd rather have the SUV with the spare tire moved to the outside and the extra taillamps that go with it. We think it's a quieter, more useful package overall.