2008 Hummer H3 review

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2008 Hummer H3 review

Yes it's big, yes it's yellow, but damn it looks good!

CarAdvice rating:

Models tested: H3, H3 Luxury

Options Fitted: None

- by Alborz Fallah & Karl Peskett

This review is broken up into four parts:

  1. Hummer H3 Review City
  2. Hummer H3 Review Off-road
  3. Hummer H3 Gallery (City)
  4. Hummer H3 Gallery (Off-road)

Hummer H3 Review (City)

The H3 is comparable to a supercar in many ways, it turns just as many heads (if not more), car enthusiasts all have their own views on it and more importantly, environmentalists absolutely hate it, which is a good reason to love the Hummer.

From the few who see the Hummer as the vehicle used by the US army to invade sovereign states to those that think every single minute a Hummer is allowed out, a fluffy penguin dies in the north pole, the ignorance of some citizens is astounding.

To cut a long story short, the Hummer got egged. Yes, some idiots egged the Hummer, but best of all, they had the audacity to stuff a few save the planet flyers in the spare tyre.

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Now excuse me if I get a little angry, but let's start with some facts. The 3.7-litre five-cylinder H3 puts out 327g of CO2 per kilometre, an equivalent Mitsubishi Pajero puts out 322g of C02/km. See my point? It's not much different to other similar sized SUVs.

Fortunately for every idiot that thought hurling abuse at me would cut CO2 emissions, there was someone that gave me the thumbs up. So let's get back to the car itself.

I am not a fan of SUVs. I actually agree that big SUVs need to be banned from CBDs. Nonetheless I absolutely adore the Hummer. This is a car built for one reason - to look good.

I never thought I'd be saying this about an American car, but starting from just $51,990, the Hummer H3 is a bargain.

You can of course go buy a base model Ford Territory, Holden Captiva or Toyota Kluger for around 40k, and many do, but not only are all those cars incapable off-road, but they blend into the background like Kevin Rudd at a Star Trek convention.

Investing in a Hummer is not like any other SUV, you have to consider the repercussions. Are you willing to entertain the 100 people that ask you questions each week? Are you willing to give kids the thumbs up when they wave? What about the already-mentioned negativity? For me, the answer is simple - absolutely.

From the outside there is no denying this car is American, it truly does capture everything we love about our closest ally, its big, bold and some will argue even beautiful. I won't go that far.

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Let's be honest here, Hummer is not for everyone. This is a car made for those who want to make a statement.

Hummer uses the slogan "Now get lost" for their advertising campaign and whilst I think the H3 is a little friendlier than that, it does reflect its attitude.

Behind the wheel you will find a high driving position overlooking a massive flat bonnet (which looks superb in yellow). Getting comfortable is not that hard, simply adjust the seat and steering wheel (which really needs to be telescopic). Remember, this car is made for Americans, so we should all be able to fit.

Turn the key and the five-cylinder engine comes to life. With 180kW @ 5600rpm and 328Nm @ 4600rpm, the Hummer seems underpowered on paper and with a kerb weight of 2178kg, it's not the quickest SUV on the road.

The four-speed auto gearbox is nothing special and certainly not worth the extra $2,000 cost on the base model (Luxury variants come standard with auto). Gear changes are quick and seamless, but power is noticeably reduced.

You're not going to be doing much city traffic driving in a Hummer, well, you shouldn't be, so I'll say it again, buy the manual.

While the 180kW engine does a decent job, there is an obvious desire for more power and with rumours of V8 versions coming to Australia next year (with a possibility of a diesel as well) - it may be wise to wait a little longer. However if you're the type that waits till Tuesday to fill up, the V8 isn't for you.

Driving around town the Hummer is very well behaved, parking is made easy with a turning circle that betters that of Ford's Territory.

As expected there is noticeable body roll when pushing hard into a corner but for general driving, you really wouldn't notice it.

Shoulder checking is practically useless as the Hummer-style short windows do little to help. As for reverse parking, by all means tick the parking-sensors box (standard on luxury) on the options list. You'll need it. The H3 recently received 0 stars from the NRMA for its rearward visibility.

The chrome centre console appears a little tacky at first, but it grows on you. As for the sunroof in the Luxury variant, it is easily the largest sunroof I've ever encountered. It is just enormous. You can almost call the H3 a convertible with it open.

Safety is taken care of by dual front airbags with passenger sensing system and curtain bags, as well as StabiliTrak® electronic stability control system, traction control, ABS and dynamic rear proportioning brakes, all of which come standard on all H3 variants.

Picking between the Luxury and the base model can be hard for some but the Luxury has been the best-seller so far. The standard H3 doesn't get the leather seats, sunroof, chrome mirrors etc, but it's still my pick, simply because I would buy the manual.

The H3 is not without its problems though. Apart from visibility it has one other large problem, it can't tow. With a towing capacity of 1360kg, it is the equivalent of a Holden Astra and is easily beaten by the likes of a standard 3.6-litre VE Commodore that can manage 2100kg. It's also hard to get into if you're vertically challenged.

"Can you live with it everyday?" Sure you can, it's not fun in traffic, but it's manageable. Want my advice? Don't buy the H3 to replace your primary vehicle, it's not the sort of car you want to leave in a shopping centre car park - trust me.

The H3 is available in three variants – the H3, H3 Luxury and H3 Adventure.

H3: $51,990 (manual) $53,990 (automatic)

Features: Cruise control, electro-chromatic rearview mirror with eight point compass, power windows, fog lights and halogen headlamps, five 16 x 7.5 inch alloy wheels, remote entry with panic alarm, single in-dash CD, cloth seats and 60/40 split rear seats.

H3 Luxury: $59,990 (automatic)

Features: All features from entry model plus automatic transmission as standard, leather seat inserts, electric heated front seats with eight way power adjustment, leather wrapped steering wheel, exterior chrome package including door handles, roof cross bars and mirror caps, six-disc in-dash CD Monsoon sound system and glass sunroof.

H3 Adventure: $57,990 (manual) $59,990 (automatic)

Features: Manual transmission as standard (optional automatic), the same level of specification as the Luxury model (excluding sunroof), adding a fully locking electronic rear differential and heavy duty two-speed transfer case with a super low range ratio of 4.03:1.

Click to read Karl's Hummer H3 Off-road review.

  1. Hummer H3 Review City
  2. Hummer H3 Review Off-road
  3. Hummer H3 Gallery (City)
  4. Hummer H3 Gallery (Off-road)

Hummer H3 Review (Off-road)

Yes, we're driving a Hummer. But the real beauty of this box on wheels, is not the bold, overstated looks. Nor is it the glances and wonderment that comes from onlookers. It's what this thing can actually do when asked.

In discussion with several hardcore four-wheel-drivers, the H3 was seen as a pretender. All flash, no substance. Which meant a challenge was on the cards. It called for an off-road excursion, with seasoned contenders. Would the Hummer's independent front suspension help, or hinder? Is the body up to the task? Would ground clearance be a problem? All would be answered during a day spent on Perth's Powerline Track.

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Our fleet of heavily modified off-roaders included a Holden Jackaroo, a Holden Rodeo, a Toyota Hilux, a Toyota Landcruiser SWB, a Mitsubishi Canter 4x4, and a bog stock, straight off the showroom floor, Hummer H3 Luxury. Yes, that's right, the Luxury.

On the highway heading out to the hills, the Hummer behaved like any dedicated off-roader - excesses of tyre roar, body roll, stiffly sprung ride, and dive under hard braking. Thing is, it's not a very plush car for around the city.

But all that fades into the background as we reached Sawyer’s Valley Tavern. The group congregated, adjusting tyre pressures to eliminate chance of rocks piercing tread. Once set, we took off, following scrub tracks and century old trails, until the bush cleared, and the powerlines appeared.

The large perforated leather steering wheel is only adjustable for height (unforgivable in a $60,000 car) but the driving position suffers little. Thankfully, feedback is fairly good, allowing accurate placement of the wheels. It’s quite direct too, with an outstanding turning circle for a four-wheel-drive (11.3m). On changing surfaces, the steering responds in kind, giving you the confidence to push on further, and explore other abilities.

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Our navigator radioed through fairly steep hills ahead, and the group rubbed their hands with glee. Apprehensive, in a car that didn’t belong to me, with bright blue paint that could have easily been scraped off by boulders in close proximity, I opted for the chicken track on the first few sections.

But the biggest surprise (and help) was the H3’s skillful stability control system. Savvy in a way that is uncanny, it negated the need for locking diffs and/or hubs.

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When climbing, if you feel the car start to slip, you need to have faith. Simply backing off causes more problems than pressing on. So, keep the foot buried, and let the electronics do their work.

Check out the Hummer H3 Gallery (Off-road).

  1. Hummer H3 Review City
  2. Hummer H3 Review Off-road
  3. Hummer H3 Gallery (City)
  4. Hummer H3 Gallery (Off-road)

Hummer H3 Gallery (City)

  1. Hummer H3 Review City
  2. Hummer H3 Review Off-road
  3. Hummer H3 Gallery (City)
  4. Hummer H3 Gallery (Off-road)
[gallery=58]

Hummer H3 Gallery (Off-road)

  1. Hummer H3 Review City
  2. Hummer H3 Review Off-road
  3. Hummer H3 Gallery (City)
  4. Hummer H3 Gallery (Off-road)
[gallery=56]