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    2003 HUMMER H2 - REVIEW

    By Brian Moody

    By far one of the most capable off-road vehicles in history, the Hummer or H1 as it became known, offers little in terms of creature comforts. Those used to Jeep Wranglers, Cherokees, Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos winced in horror at the crudeness of the original Hummer. Sure that crudeness is part of the appeal for many, but for others, spending over $100,000 should mean youíd reach 60 mph from a dead stop in less than half an hour. And some customers also expected engine, road, and wind noise to be slightly below that of an Amtrak locomotive.

    General Motors is responsible for consumer sales of Hummer products and they have heard the publicís complaints. Many Hummer owners bought their vehicle simply as a status symbol or as an addition to a car collection. The real off-roaders are generally about $50,000 shy of Hummer ownership, and simply canít afford the luxury of purchasing a $110,000 vehicle that doesnít serve double duty as the family hauler.

    GM has heard your pleas—the all-new H2 is designed specifically to address the woes of those who desire the H1ís off-road prowess, but cannot live with the crudeness of a truck that was designed to win wars, not commute in cross-town traffic.

    The H2 is set to reach dealerships soon, and Hummer has beefed up its dealership network in anticipation of selling plenty of H2s. The target is 150 Hummer dealers nationwide, and of those 90 are already in place. New dealerships are open in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Detroit, and Casper, Wyoming. Currently, Hummer sells about 1,000 H1s per year, but plans to sell about 40,000 H2s annually.

    The H2 is based on the GMT820 platform, the very same platform that provides the underpinnings for the Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon, Avalanche and all of GMís other full-size trucks. However, the H2 is much more than just a re-bodied Tahoe. The H2 does share the previously mentioned vehicles suspension and 6.0-liter V8, but the similarities end there. The H2 is built with the serious off-roader in mind, but the GMT820 platform should insure civilized on-road manners in addition to its off-road abilities.

    A joint team from AM General and General Motors decided to shed almost 10 inches from the front overhang of the GM truck platform. A few extra inches were also sawed off the rear just for good measure. It might not sound like much, but with the H2ís wheels pushed all the way out to the very corners of the vehicle, it is now capable of creeping over rocks no Tahoe could ever hope to master and drive home to tell about it. The H2 is also outfitted with all manner of cladding and plates underneath to insure no vital organs are torn up when using the H2 to its full capabilities. Front suspension is torsion bar, but rear suspension is available as five-link coil spring or an optional air-bag suspension thatís good for an extra few inches of ground clearance. The air-bag suspension also has a load-leveling feature.

    The H2 is said to be capable of tackling 6 inches of standing water without slowing below 40 mph, and conquer 20-inch streams at 5 mph. According to Hummer "It can also comfortably and confidently climb 16-inch steps and rocks, without getting hung up or jarring its passengers. And it can paddle through deep sand or run over sandy surfaces in high-speed desert conditions with remarkable ease." The H2ís 6.0-liter V8 is good for 316 hp and 360 lb ft of torque. The V8 is mated to a heavy duty GM 4L65-E four-speed electronic automatic transmission, with a 3.06 first gear ratio.

    The H2ís off road technology includes a Borg-Warner, 2-speed, full-time 4-wheel drive system that "is capable of further reducing the vehicle's gear ratios by 2.64:1 when necessary, for highly controlled obstacle climbing. It provides a 40/60 percent front/rear torque split in ĎHigh Opení mode or when the differentials are unlocked and a 50/50 percent front/rear power split when the transfer case differential is locked. A specially designed low-range throttle progression allows the driver to precisely control engine speed (and as a result, the vehicle) over very rough terrain, and is automatically engaged when the transfer case is in Ď4LO,í" according to General Motors.

    The transfer case and dash mounted buttons can provide five different selections: High, High-locked, "4 LO Locked" with a 2.64:1 gear reduction, "4 LO Locked + Rear Diff Locked," and neutral which permits the H2 to be flat towed if necessary. The H2 also has a sophisticated ABS system which provides the usually safety on-road, but also works to detect off-road conditions where the ABS system can react differently depending on surface conditions.

    All this technology would be a waste without the proper ground clearance to venture far from civilization. The H2 has impressive ground clearance numbers, as any vehicle to wear the Hummer badge should. Angle of approach is 40.4 degrees, angle of departure is an equally impressive 39.6 degrees and minimum running ground clearance is 10 inches. Optional air-suspension raises angle of approach to 41.7 degrees, and minimum running ground clearance to 10.5 inches.

    H2 pricing will begin at $48,800 including destination charges. Two option packages are available—a luxury group called the "Lux Series" which includes, custom carpet floor mats, chrome appearance package, leather seat surfaces, and tubular assist steps. The "Lux Series" package costs just over $2,500. The second package is the "Adventure Series" which retails for $2,215, and includes a first aid kit, tool kit, portable lamp, air-suspension, brush guards, roof rack cross members and special floor mats. Both packages include a six-disc CD changer.

    The H2 should provide a somewhat affordable alternative to those who want or need the H1ís military inspired muscle, but long for the comfort of a vehicle that was designed with civilians in mind. $48,000 is not cheap, but it is less than the boulevard cruising Escalade and only slightly more than a 4x4 Tahoe or Suburban.

    Visit the 2003 Hummer H2 Accessories Page

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