2003 HUMMER H2 SPORT UTILITY
Used Truck - 2003 HUMMER H2 Sport Utility in Stafford, Va
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2003 HUMMER H2 ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
Amazing off-road capability, luxurious accommodations.
It all started as a military vehicle in the late 1970s. Since then, AM General has built more than 175,000 HMWWV, Humvee, or Hummer H1 vehicles.
Now comes the Hummer H2. It Is built at a brand-new factory in Indiana that's a duplicate of other General Motors plants. In effect, it is a GM plant. GM now owns all marketing rights to the Hummer brand, and contracts with AM General to build the new Hummer H2 using the GM worldwide production system.
The Hummer 2 is actually longer and taller than the original H1, but doesn't look it. The H2 represents an impressive production achievement: In just 16 months from the go signal, the Hummer H2 was designed, engineered and tested, and the new factory was built. It's a serious off-road SUV built on GM's superb T800 truck platform, which is shared with the Chevy Suburban and Tahoe SUVs and the Chevy Silverado pickups, plus the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Avalanche, GMC Sierra and Yukons, and other vehicles.
But this isn't just a gussied-up Suburban. The H2 boasts unique Hummer engineering and attributes and 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.
Only one model, the Hummer H2 or Hummer 2, is available initially. It's available in a small but interesting palette of colors, from black to yellow, with a substantial option list.
Factory options are limited to sunroof, air suspension, towing package, Warn electric winch, leather upholstery, and a handful of others. However, the Hummer accessory catalog boasts more than 40 items, ranging from light bars to grille bars to tubular step plates to bike racks and cargo boxes for 300 pounds. Of course, there's Hummer apparel, and there's even a folding Hummer bicycle.
The Adventure package of air suspension, a first aid kit, tool kit and Maglite flashlight, luggage rack, 6-disc CD changer and carpeted floor mats, is $2215. The Lux package includes leather heated front seats, chrome appearance package, tubular assist steps, 6-dsic CD changer, and carpeted floor mats for $2575. Individual options include a third-row seat at $500, air suspension by itself for $1025, a front brush guard at $525, the chrome package for $700, the combination first aid, tool and flashlight kit at $215, heated leather seats alone for $1400, and $995 for the industry's largest SUV sunroof.
You can count on a future filled with pickup models, convertible models, two-seaters with huge beds, GM's convert-a-bed technology (used on the Chevy Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT). We may see rear-wheel steering, along with versions powered by hybrid gas-electric engines and diesels.
There is no mistaking the Hummer 2 for anything but a Hummer. 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, even to 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 front end is made up of a number of components including a grille, bumper, tow hooks, and a lower bash plate with a huge 'H2' stamped into its plastic surface. It looks, from some angles, like a grown-up Tonka truck. The rear end is subdued compared to the rest of the truck, with a Hummer-stamped rear bumper cover and lots of square corners.
Odd, but the H2 changes personality a bit, depending on which color it's painted. Duck hunters may be disappointed that military camouflage is not an option.
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 bumpers to help launching boats and watercraft or for pulling yourself out or farther in to the wilderness.
H2 is 81.5 inches wide, 1.5 inches over the limit for clearance lights, so it comes with five lights on the roof fore and aft to comply with federal law. It's shorter overall than the Suburban, with very short front and rear overhangs that pay enormous dividends in off-road capability and performance.
Big, square, chromed mirrors somehow don't make very much noise, which we appreciated. They also have heat, reverse-down, and a power folding feature that protects the mirrors off road and narrows the truck's profile considerably for traversing narrow spaces.
Hummer's H2 offers little cargo space due to its low roofline and the huge spare tire and wheel bolted into the back seat area. Neither the roof nor the tailgate was deemed strong enough to hold the 98-pound wheel and tire unit, so it's inside, chewing up space, but covered up nicely. 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, and the big Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus LX470.
Some interior parts are taken from the Pontiac Aztek SUV, notably the air vents in the dashboard. Other interior components are taken from GM's pickup truck and SUV parts bins. But the important thing is that it hangs together as a complete, rather bold interior design with lots of metallic flavorings here and there, black-on-white gauges shared with the high-end GMC SUVs, and very decent seats. The rear-view mirror self-dims automatically. Glass is all Solar Ray glass which cuts heat and UV transmission.
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 too much space doing it.
Overall, the interior works pretty well. The small vertical side glass makes you want to hunch over to see out, but if you like intimate interiors, this might be the one for you.
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).
First things first: this is NOT a noisy, smelly diesel. The Hummer 2's best single feature is the 6.0-liter V8 gasoline engine. It makes 316 horsepower in this chassis and 360 foot-pounds of torque, more than enough to get from 0 to 60 mph in about 10 seconds, and more than enough to comfortably tow 7000 pounds or carry 2200 pounds of cargo.
The powertrain is excellent. The engine drives through GM's 4L65-E electronically controlled four-speed overdrive transmission, the Borg-Warner 44-84 transfer case with a 40/60 front/rear torque bias, and steep 4.10:1 axle ratios. The tank range is given at 350 miles, based on a 32-gallon fuel tank and about 11 miles per gallon under ideal conditions. Fuel economy is not the H2's strong suit. But power and torque are plentiful, the engine is well muffled and quiet, and if you need to put oil in it, 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 lowers the truck 0.7 inches, self-levels and can make difficult off-roading somewhat more comfortable. The relatively quick steering is helped out by one of the smallest turning circles in the segment at 43.5 feet. The Hummer 2 feels more nimble than it should at 6400 pounds, but it's not quick enough in its reactions to scare anybody. The tires are the Hummer 2's first form of suspension, and they combine well with the iron and steel bits to provide a plush ride on road, but a lot of control and stability off road.
Brakes on a serious SUV require more than just enough power to stop a fully loaded 6400-pound five-door family vehicle from 70 mph or more. 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.
Hummer 2 marks the first use by GM and AM General of a new Borg-Warner transfer case, two-stage traction control and special-conditions strategy. 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 or second traction control strategy allows all four tires to spin freely at high rpm, a strategy needed on some loose or slick surfaces.
Huge LT315/70R17 BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires were easy to steer on highway and off. The truck carries an onboard compressor and hose fittings to enable deflating and reinflating tires as road and surface conditions dictate, using the air suspension's compressor. As big as they are, with that much contact patch on the road, the tires were surprisingly quiet at highway cruising speeds.
With only about 40,000 of these to sell, we think the 150 Hummer dealers in their distinctive Quonset hut dealerships will be swamped. This Hummer 2 will do 95 percent of what the original Hummer can do at far less than half the price, far more comfortably, stylishly and nimbly.
This thing will drive straight up a 16-inch vertical face, drive over a 16-inch diameter log, and traverse watery places to a depth of 20 inches or more. It'll easily drive up a wet 60-degree hill, if necessary at a 40-degree angle. We've never driven a big production SUV that was this good off-road. At this price, it's the SUV bargain of the year, whether you're trying to get through 10 inches of snow, a rutted soccer field parking lot, or a rocky canyon. Just don't expect to win any fuel-economy contests.
Hummer H2 ($48,065).
Options As Tested
sunroof ($995), brush guard ($525), CD changer ($350).
Hummer H2 5-door SUV.