What's New for 2006
No major changes are in store for the 2006 Hummer H2 SUT.
The AM General and General Motors partnership spawned yet another SUV/truck/off-road vehicle, the H2 SUT. For those who aren't familiar with AM General, it's a company that was awarded the original contract to build the Humvee military vehicle. When the Humvee became a household name thanks to its prominent role in Desert Storm, AM General decided to capitalize on its popularity and build a civilian version known as the Hummer (now known as the H1). With a sticker price of well over $100,000, it isn't exactly your average sport-utility, but its unstoppable off-road ability and rugged military styling make it a hit with wannabes and movie stars alike.
Unfortunately, the Hummer's transition from all-purpose military vehicle to daily driver wasn't perfect. Despite its imposing size, there is barely enough room for four, and the interior ergonomics are poor. Although the suspension allows it to climb over just about anything, negotiating traffic in the nearly 3-ton beast isn't much fun. So how does General Motors figure into the equation? Realizing that AM General had a household name for a product that few could afford, GM stepped in and bought the rights to "Hummer" in 1999. It doesn't own AM General, nor does it build any of its vehicles. What the General did do, however, was design a new SUV called the H2 that uses its extensive inventory of existing truck and SUV parts.
Capitalizing on the popularity of the H2 (who can look at an H2 and not know it's a Hummer?), GM designers have crafted a unique pickup truck alternative, a la Chevy Avalanche. The SUT maintains, and perhaps even enhances, the distinctive styling of the original H2 SUV. Basically, the H2's cargo area was opened up to the great outdoors and a removable midgate was added to separate the "pickup bed" from the passenger space. With the midgate closed, the cargo area is a 30-cubic-foot, rubber-lined open bed. Folding the rear seats down and opening the midgate expands the cargo area to 56 cubic feet. Designers also relocated the enormous spare tire to the outside of the tailgate. Almost all of the convenience features found in GM's SUV and truck lineup can be found in the H2 SUT. From dual-zone automatic climate control to a Bose audio system to the OnStar communication system, the SUT is loaded to the hilt with standard features. After four years on the market, though, the H2 doesn't turn quite as many heads as it motors through suburbia, even in SUT form. Unless you're a serious off-roader, you'll likely find that this Hummer's unwieldy size and big thirst make it impractical, even unappealing, to drive on a daily basis.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The H2 SUT comes in only one body style and one trim level, but two major packages called the Adventure Series and the Lux Series add numerous features. Features like dual-zone automatic climate control, a driver information center and OnStar are standard equipment, along with power everything and a keyless entry system. The Adventure Series package adds a self-leveling rear air suspension along with an upgraded audio system, carpeted floor mats, a tool and first-aid kits and a front brush guard. The Lux Series package doesn't include the air suspension, but it does add uplevel leather seating, a chrome appearance package, tubular side steps and the Adventure package's audio system and floor mats. Stand-alone options include heated front and rear seats, an overhead light bar and an integrated DVD-based navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
All H2s are powered by GM's 6.0-liter V8 rated at 325 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. A heavy-duty 4L65-E four-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting chores, while a full-time dual-range transfer case distributes the power to the individual driveshafts. Advanced features include a driver-selectable rear differential locker and a drive-by-wire throttle setup that changes sensitivity when low-range gearing is selected.
The H2 SUT comes standard with ABS and traction control. The advanced traction system allows the SUT to propel itself even if only a single wheel has grip, while driver-selectable settings fine-tune the system to respond to varying road conditions.
Interior Design and Special Features
Unlike the awkwardly configured H1, the H2 SUT's interior is arranged like a typical full-size SUV, minus the enclosed cargo area. Power-adjustable captain's chairs reside upfront, while a three-passenger bench seat makes up the second row. The overall design emphasizes the H2's rugged personality, with exposed attachment bolts and an aircraft throttle-style shift lever, but standard equipment like dual-zone climate control and a nine-speaker Bose sound system remind you that the SUT is a thoroughly modern vehicle. A removable midgate separates the passenger area from the open cargo area. At the touch of a button, the driver can lower all four windows and the rear midgate window. A power sunroof is standard on all SUTs. With the midgate closed, the SUT's cargo area consists of a 30-cubic-foot, rubber-lined open bed. Folding the rear seats down and opening the midgate raises capacity to 56 cubic feet.
Although smaller than the original H1, the H2 SUT still feels massive on the road. The ride is slightly stiffer than a Suburban's or Avalanche's, but not so much as to be uncomfortable. The SUT's off-road prowess is easily the best in its class, with steep approach and departure angles, plenty of ground clearance and ample wheel travel. Power from the big V8 is watered down by the vehicle's substantial mass, and gas mileage often drops to the single digits during stop-and-go driving.