Hummer H3 2007 review: road test
Square, squat and functional in a seriously no-nonsense manner, the H3 is coming to a road near you.
GM makes no excuse for the Hummer's style; no soft lines, no friendly curves and no compromises.
“I don't think people need to; or should apologise for driving this car,” director of GM Premium Brands in Australia Parveen Batish says.
“It's very much a polarising brand and you will either love it or hate it and that is fine by us. We prefer people to be polarised than be not really sure.”
Although a descendent of the original Humvee military transport from the Gulf War, the H3 has not only been shrunk, but also civilised.
It retains distinctive Hummer design characteristics but, at 2.2 tonnes, is no heavier than most and lighter than some of the more 'mainstream' SUV's winning favour as mum's taxi.
Scheduled for release in Australia some five months ago, the H3 is now on sale in 22 dealerships.
GM is coy about the reasons for the delay but in essence the company had to work through a raft of mostly minor Australian Design Rule modifications.
The Hummer's 3.7-litre in-line five-cylinder petrol engine drives through a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox and permanent all-wheel drive.
The entry-level H3 starts at $51,990 (add $2000 for the automatic) and comes standard with stability control, traction control, ABS, dual front airbags, curtain side airbags, cruise control, foglights, halogen headlights, five 16-inch alloys with 265/75 road-biased rubber with a 31-inch diameter, single in-dash CD and cloth trim.
The H3 Luxury ($59,990) comes as an automatic only with leather seat inserts, heated front seats, exterior chrome package, six-disc in-dash CD and sunroof. For the more hard-core off-roader, the H3 Adventure comes as a manual at $57,990 or automatic ($59,990) and shares its trim; except the sunroof; with the Luxury.
It also adds additional underbody protection, a locking electronic rear differential and a heavy-duty transfer case with a crawler ratio of 4.03:1.
Disappointingly none of the cars come standard with a rear warning device, a glaring omission in a car with as little rear vision as the H3 boasts. Instead, GM has included in an extensive accessories list a $455 (plus fitting) set of rear parking sensors.
“We understand how important this is as a safety feature but unfortunately it's not available out of the factory,” Batish says. “We're talking to GM about it and there may be movement for 2008 cars but at the moment we've done the best we can by ensuring it is available as a local accessory.”
GM says it is holding 400 orders for the H3 but will not say how many cars it expects to sell in the coming year. The H3 for Australia will be sourced out of South Africa where the global right-hand drive cars are being made.
It is likely a turbo diesel engine will be available in 2009 while a decision on the 5.3-litre V8 model is still pending.
Producing 180kW at 5600rpm and 328Nm of torque at a relatively high 4600rpm (although Hummer claims 90per cent of the peak torque is reached by 2000rpm), the 3.7-litre engine does a reasonable job shifting the H3 along the highways and byways.
There is not a lot of activity when you go for the throttle anywhere above 80km/h but be patient and plan your overtaking and the engine will eventually respond.
The driving position is surprisingly comfortable after scaling the considerable heights to reach the cabin. On the subject of getting in and out of the H3, a word of warning: If you are going mud-bashing then it would be prudent to option the car with sidesteps as it is almost impossible to get out of the car without wiping the door sills clean with your leg.
The interior offers a reasonably high standard of materials and general ambience. It is also good from an ergonomic viewpoint, with all controls easily to hand.
It is less appealing from the back. The door openings are small, entry and exit compromised by extended square wheel arches, the stadium seating and small windows slightly claustrophobic.
As a road drive, the H3 is not without merit. External vision is compromised by the relatively small windows, but when well adjusted the huge wing mirrors do compensate.
Steering is not as heavy as expected, given the size of the tyres, but it is vague. General manoeuvrability is excellent from the H3's surprisingly nimble 11.3m turning circle.
The H3 may have some city manners but it has truly serious off-road ability.
All models run a full-time AWD system with two high-range settings; open and locked centre diff; and a low range locked. Even without the option of the super-low crawl gearing and locking rear diff of the Adventure model, it is difficult to image just what sort of terrain will stop this thing.
A launch course that would put some more popular 'off-roaders' to the sword barely had the H3 out of a trot. Loose rock climbs, heavily rutted roads and mud bogs were as nothing to the Hummer.
You can be reasonably confident you are not going to break the H3 with anything short of off-road lunacy.
The Hummer's largely welded body (eliminating squeaky bits where screwed and bolted panels rub) sits on an old-school solid ladder-frame chassis. It all rides a simple independent, torsion bar front and live-axle leaf-spring rear suspension.
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