Full 2008 HUMMER H2 Review
What's New for 2008
The 2008 Hummer H2 hits the ground with a familiar look but more power under the hood and welcome refinement inside. Highlights include a new 393-horsepower V8, a completely redesigned instrument panel, new seats -- including a full third-row seat for two passengers -- revised door trim panels and controls, and new comfort, entertainment and safety features.
Inspired by the massive military-derived Hummer H1 off-road ground pounder, the full-size Hummer H2 sport-utility vehicle debuted five years ago as the go-to choice for the "look at me" crowd. Constructed of various bits and pieces from GM's full-size truck and SUV parts bin, its rough-around-the-edges attitude was as much a part of its charm as the H2's all-conquering off-road capability.
More recently, however, the H2's popularity has suffered as a result of an aging design, escalating fuel prices, changing consumer tastes and its status as a favored target in the crosshairs of environmentalists and other social critics. From Hummer's standpoint, there's not much that can be done about fuel prices and consumer wants, but it does have the ability to make the H2 better, and that was the mission for the updated 2008 model.
The 2008 Hummer H2 retains its iconic bricklike design and stout foundation but has a variety of upgrades that address previous shortcomings. The interior, for instance, is now more upscale with better fit and finish. Front occupants face a redesigned instrument panel with soft-touch surfaces and a center stack housing new GM audio components. There are also more comfortable front seats, an available two-passenger third-row seat and full-length side curtain airbags.
Under the hood, a larger 6.2-liter V8 propels the H2 through a new six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. The engine boasts 68 more horsepower than last year's V8 and fuel economy, though still quite poor, is largely unchanged. Towing capacity has increased as well to a stout 8,000 pounds and the H2 now has stability control for the first time. Outside, the H2's expressive and recognizable form has been only mildly updated with larger grille slot openings and silver-painted lower bumpers.
Given that H2s are now a fairly common sight on the road, this year's massaged but visually similar model won't be turning many heads. But the major midcycle freshening has certainly made it the best one yet. Of course, potential buyers will still have to contend with its XXL size and heavy thirst. Meanwhile, competitors like the Land Rover Range Rover, Infiniti QX56 and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class offer more on-road refinement and country-club prestige. But if you're in want of a premium SUV that's truly off-road worthy and not demure about its macho truck heritage, the revitalized-for-2008 Hummer H2 is worth considering.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Hummer H2 is a large sport-utility vehicle that seats five or seven passengers and comes in three trim levels: standard H2, H2 Adventure and H2 Luxury. The standard H2 is generously equipped with dual-zone automatic climate control, auxiliary rear climate controls, leather seating, power front seats with driver memory, heated front and second-row seats, a trip computer and OnStar. A Bose audio system with a six-disc CD changer and satellite radio is also included, as is a remote vehicle starter, underbody skid plates, 17-inch aluminum wheels, all-terrain tires and a driver-selectable locking rear differential.
The H2 Adventure model adds more off-pavement functionality with a self-leveling rear air suspension, a front brush guard and a tool/first aid kit. Finally, the H2 Luxury package is the boulevardier of the lineup, forgoing the rear air suspension but arriving in style with polished aluminum wheels, a chrome appearance package, brushed-aluminum roof rack, tubular side steps, rearview camera system, a sunroof, a folding two-passenger third-row seat, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a premium MP3-compatible Bose surround-sound audio system. Most of these features, including the air suspension package, plus a navigation system and upgraded leather seating and interior trim, are also available as stand-alone options.
Powertrains and Performance
The heart of the four-wheel-drive H2 is a new 6.2-liter V8 engine rated at 393 hp and 415 pound-feet of torque. It's connected to a new six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. For help in the rough stuff, there's a dual-range transfer case, electronic throttle control with a more gradual calibration in low range, and a driver-selectable rear-differential locker. Hummer also says that the new six-speed transmission has improved the H2's overall crawl ratio by about 20 percent. Towing capacity is also enhanced this year, up 1,500 pounds to 8,000. EPA fuel economy estimates aren't available, but suffice to say that even with the new powertrain, fuel "efficiency" remains rather dismal.
Safety has been considerably enhanced for the 2008 Hummer H2 with the addition of stability control with roll mitigation technology and the brake assist feature for the antilock disc brakes. Also making their appearance are standard rollover-sensing head curtain airbags for all three rows and front-row safety belt pre-tensioners. As an enhancement, the H2's standard OnStar emergency communications system can now be augmented with optional turn-by-turn navigation.
Interior Design and Special Features
The highlight of the 2008 H2 has to be its all-new interior, whose soft-touch surfaces and vastly improved fit and finish are a welcome relief from the hard plastics and questionable construction of previous models. There's a completely redesigned instrument panel, updated seats (including a newly available full third row), revised door trim panels, new rear-seat climate controls and an overhead DVD entertainment system for backseat passengers. A new generation of premium GM audio equipment offers more selection and improved sound, and higher-quality switchgear further reinforces the impression of craftsmanship notably absent in past H2s. Despite its massive exterior dimensions, rear legroom can be tight and the 86.6 cubic feet of cargo space is less than what's available from most other full-size luxury SUVs.
Weighing in at more than 6,600 pounds and fitted with truck-based suspension components and recirculating-ball steering, the 2008 Hummer H2 is not exactly a prime choice for around-town errands. Unless, of course, your errands happen to include overcoming fallen tree trunks, crawling over boulders or fording 24 inches of river water. The H2's off-road capabilities are easily best-in-class, with lots of ground clearance, radical approach and departure angles, generous wheel articulation and ample tire grip. The new, more powerful Hummer should be able to comfortably break the 10-second mark in 0-60-mph runs and offer better all-around performance and drivability than previous H2 models.