What's New for 1999
Antilock brakes and traction control are standard, and a revised dashboard with improved illumination and a low-fuel indicator light debuts. Remote keyless entry is activated using a new three-button fob, and the washer fluid reservoir is larger. Finer wires in the heated windshield cover more glass and reduce reflections, and the Hummer's wiring system has been simplified. Two new colors round out the changes for 1999.
The Hummer is the ultimate off-road warrior. Designed as an all-purpose vehicle for the U.S. Armed Forces (where it's known as the Humvee), the military version has been in production since 1985. The civilian Hummer became available to the public in 1992, and it has seen some success, thanks to people who've found that there are some things a Jeep Wrangler just can't do. Available in four body styles (two-door Hard Top, four-door Hard Top, Open Top and Wagon), the Hummer has a style for everyone -- that is, anyone interested in such a beast. Our favorite is the Open Top, truly the bulkiest convertible in the world. The best feature on this convertible, however, is that the wind won't muss your hair: the Hummer goes from zero to 60 in a lollygagging 16 seconds, and its top speed is only 83 mph. Optional accessories include a 6.5-liter turbodiesel engine for more power, and a towing system that can haul over 8,500 lbs. A Central Tire Inflation System allows the driver to inflate or deflate the tires from inside the vehicle, for those times when you really need the traction provided by depressurized rubber. But with the new-for-1999 standard traction-control system, running soft tires might be a thing of the past. TorqTrac4 uses sensors located at all four wheels to monitor wheel slip. If wheel speed exceeds vehicle speed, the system applies braking to the spinning wheel and transfers torque to the wheels that still have some grip. Also new for 1999 is a hydraulic four-wheel antilock braking system. With these changes, AM General spokespeople proclaim that the Hummer's off-road prowess is 90 percent attributable to the vehicle itself and only 10 percent attributable to the driver. So now, unskilled and skilled alike can tackle almost any terrain. Our complaints with this box-on-wheels center on the cheap GM-standard climate controls. For this price, they should be made of more substantial plastic. Otherwise, exposed bolts and rivets just add to the Hummer charm, and build quality is what you'd expect of any other military-style utility vehicle such as tanks or submarines. Too bad a gun turret isn't optional for the civilian version. It's a jungle out there.