2007 Hummer H3 First Steer
“If you thought GM’s Hummer H3 was the king of Bling and nothing more – you’d be dead wrong. What this thing can do off road, is downright scary”
My old man’s authentic 1942 WW2 Jeep has always been my off-road hero. Many a Sunday afternoon was spent duelling with hard-core beach buggies on Sydney’s once busy Dee Why sand dunes. I don’t recall the Jeep ever being beaten by these purpose built sand hoppers.
It’s not that I’m not loyal to the old war hero, but you’ve got to pay homage to anything with the word HUMMER written on it, and that includes the H3.
The Hummer brand name comes from the legendary American Military vehicle, the HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) nicknamed, Humvee by the US troops in the Desert Storm campaign in 1991.
Legend has it that all four tyres were shot to pieces but the HMMWV still managed to escape the firefight at 100kmh.
If it’s attention you’re after then the Hummer H3 has no peer. At almost two metres wide and five metres long, this is a seriously imposing vehicle. It’s hard to believe that this is the baby in the Hummer line-up, which includes the H1 and H2 Models.
Just launched in Australia by GM premium brands, the H3 had already racked up over 400 pre-launch orders, all on the back of a single yellow example on display at the 2006 Sydney Motor Show.
With a starting price of only $51,990 for the base model H3 with a 5-speed manual box, it seems like a lot of SUV for your money. For a start, it’s a surprisingly comfortable cabin, which includes all the modern creature comforts.
If you step up to the H3 Luxury at $59,990 and that’s my pick, you gain additional goodies such as leather seats and trim and a very decent seven speaker Monsoon sound system with subwoofer and amplifier, capable of socially unacceptable volumes with unusual clarity.
And if the standard off the floor H3 is still not enough Bling for you, then GM offers an extensive range of accessories that should suit you. The pic will be the 18-inch chrome wheels with a slightly lower profile tyre and the chrome hood louvre. I should add that the prices for these add ons seem more than reasonable.
There’s nothing quite like a military style convoy of ten Hummers trying escape Melbourne’s grid locked CBD.
As demonic as the H3 might look, don’t think for one minute that’s it’s difficult to drive or manoeuvre. With a turning circle better than a Mercedes M-Class, Land Rover Discovery and the Ford Territory, the Hummer is surprisingly easy to manage.
I simply wasn’t expecting the ride quality or suspension compliance that the H3 provided during our highway run out to the Victorian bush. It’s a more comfortable ride than many SUVs on the market although; wind noise at 100km/h drowns out any tyre roar.
The four-speed automatic, optional on the base model H3 and mid spec H3 Adventure, is mated to a not so large 180kW 3.7 litre Vortec engine, which provides only adequate power and lacks sufficient torque. The five-speed manual is the better option, if you can live without an auto.
That said, freeway driving at our national speed limits is more than comfortable with the automatic box, but you do need to punch it when overtaking. The bottom line is, this vehicle is begging for a diesel powertrain.
The GM people kept telling us that this junior Hummer was more than capable in off road conditions. Frankly, I didn’t buy it and at most, expected little more than a muddy creek crossing and a medium level hill climb or two.
I should have picked up on their overly relaxed demeanour. The calm before the storm.
First off for our group, was a muddy in part track but with ruts as deep as mineshafts. Worse still, the track was naturally fenced with a row of sizeable gum trees that if collided with, could take out a guard or two.
The H3 operates in standard full time 4WD. But with the push of a dash-mounted button, I engaged 4 HIGH LOCK, as this looked a little more serious than I had anticipated.
Not only was this not a challenge for the H3, but also I doubt whether there is any other SUV on the planet, that offers the level of comfort over such difficult terrain.
My confidence levels were high at this point, and wanting something a little more challenging. I’d heard that saying a hundred times. Careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Next up, the rock climb. Nothing could prepare you for what lay ahead. Such was the angle of ascent and the size of the rocks, which littered this mountain (yes mountain) that I seriously doubted whether it was possible to scale on foot, let alone in a vehicle of this size.
I selected the next button along, 4 LOW LOCK and engaged 1st gear, as this was heart in the mouth stuff and beyond challenging. Again, gums the size of houses lined the track, making the going even more desperate.
Metre by metre, the Hummer climbed this impossible incline with traction control assisting when the road tyres struggled to find grip over what were essentially, small boulders.
In the end, the H3 made relatively light work of these ludicrously steep routes, so I’m puzzled as to what it would take to stop this vehicle.
With its extreme off road talent, its easy to forget the H3 is a proper SUV that is more than capable of hauling the whole family around or a tonne of sports gear from mountain bike to board.
Rear seat leg and headroom is ample while the rear seats offer 60/40 split or fold flat to accommodate 1577 litres of cargo volume.
By Anthony Crawford