Full 2010 HUMMER H3 Review
What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Hummer H3 sees only minimal changes – the lower portion of the front bumper is now dark gray instead of silver, the 5.3-liter V8 adopts flexible-fuel capability and the H3X package is renamed the Appearance package.
It doesn't seem that long ago when Hummers were the preferred status symbol of the celebrity set. Somehow, it was deemed cool to pilot the massive, 3-ton, gas-guzzling H2 SUV through crowded city streets on the way to Hollywood premieres and expensive restaurants. Hummer soon expanded its lineup to include the baby brother H3, which offered similar looks to the H2 but with a much lower price tag, a more reasonable size and a less gluttonous fuel appetite.
Then gas prices shot up and driving a Hummer became about as cool as having Kanye West host the Grammy awards. Making matters worse is the planned sale of the Hummer brand, which has left the future of the brand in limbo. Still, the 2010 Hummer H3 soldiers on, giving those who can't resist the Hummer's admittedly eye-catching Tonka Truck styling a chance to own a brand-new one.
Impressive off-road capability is still Hummer's forte, and the H3 doesn't disappoint. Short overhangs, generous ground clearance, massive tires and available locking differentials make it a force to be reckoned with on rugged trails. But the reality is most of them will never see anything more rugged than the edge of a soccer field.
In the end, there are just too many sacrifices made here in the name of style and off-road capability to make sense for most folks. With its small windows, the H3 provides outward visibility about equal to a Brink's truck, while its nearly 5,000-pound curb weight (that's nearly as much as a Tahoe) is too hefty a load for the standard five-cylinder engine. Yes, the Alpha version offers a powerful V8, but its thirst for fuel is second only to some celebrities' thirst for attention. On the upside, the H3 does provide a smooth ride and comfortable seating for four adults, though cargo capacity is on the meager side for this segment.
So yes, the 2010 Hummer H3 may be a good choice for those who venture off-road regularly or are so taken with its unique styling that they can live with the shortcomings. However, its rivals -- whether purpose-built machines such as the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and Toyota FJ Cruiser, or more traditional SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee or Nissan Pathfinder -- offer greater overall value, performance, efficiency and quality for most consumers.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Hummer H3 midsize sport-utility vehicle is available in two basic models: the base five-cylinder H3 and the more powerful Alpha.
The standard H3 features 16-inch alloy wheels, full skid plates, hill-start assist, air-conditioning, cruise control, foglamps, keyless entry, OnStar, Bluetooth and a six-speaker CD player with satellite radio. The Alpha model adds a V8 engine, polished 16-inch wheels, leather-trimmed seating and steering wheel, carpeted floor mats, heated and power-adjustable front seats and a universal garage door opener.
A Luxury package outfits the base model with many of the Alpha's extras plus a Monsoon audio system with a six-CD changer, while the Appearance package dresses up the H3 Alpha with a chrome fuel-filler cap, wheels and roof rack, plus other goodies. A sunroof, special metallic paints, a navigation system and a rearview camera system are also available.
Hummer H3s are offered with two suspension packages to suit different terrain requirements. The standard Z85 heavy-duty handling and trailering suspension provides more balanced on- and off-road performance, with 32-inch all-terrain tires and different rear-axle gearing. The optional Off-Road Adventure package is designed for more aggressive off-pavement capabilities, with taller 33-inch tires, specially tuned shock absorbers, a cast-iron front differential case, locking front and rear differentials and shorter transfer-case gearing for maximum control during hill climbs and descents. It also adds some of the Luxury package's items, like a power driver seat and the upgraded Monsoon sound system.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2010 Hummer H3 models are equipped with full-time four-wheel drive and a two-speed transfer case. The standard engine is a 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder that generates 239 horsepower and 241 pound-feet of torque, backed by a standard five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic. Acceleration is lackluster thanks to the H3's nearly 5,000-pound weight, and the maximum towing capacity is rated at a modest 4,500 pounds. EPA estimated fuel economy checks in at 14 mpg city/18 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined with either transmission.
The Alpha model picks up the pace with a 5.3-liter V8 cranking out 300 horses and, more importantly, 320 lb-ft of mass-moving torque mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Overall performance is noticeably improved, with 0-60 sprints in the 8-second range, and maximum towing capacity shoots up to 6,000 pounds. As expected, estimated fuel mileage suffers further, rating 13 mpg city/16 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.
Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, hill-start assist, OnStar and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on all H3s.
In government crash testing, the 2010 Hummer H3 scored a perfect five out of five stars for driver protection and four stars for passenger protection in frontal impact tests. Side-impact testing resulted in five-star protection ratings for both front and rear passengers. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Hummer H3 earned a second-highest "Acceptable" rating in both frontal-offset and side-impact crash testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
The H3's cabin is handsome in a utilitarian kind of way, but a bit plain when compared to the Hummer H3's bold exterior design. The available leather seating livens things up a bit with a two-tone color scheme and contrasting piping. Build quality is acceptable, though most rivals offer finer appointments. Also, stereo and climate interfaces aren't as user-friendly as those found in other GM vehicles.
The seats are comfortable, though outward visibility is compromised for shorter drivers and passengers due to the H3's high beltline and low-profile window design. Rear-seat occupants have plenty of room to stretch out once inside, but ingress and egress through the smallish door openings can be a challenge, and taller individuals may find headroom somewhat tight. Cargo capacity lags behind some rivals, at just 63 cubic feet with the seats folded. The cargo-floor liftover is also quite high, but easily accessed though the side-hinged rear door.
The standard inline-5 generally manages to keep up with traffic when tooling around town, but the 2010 Hummer H3's near-5,000-pound mass causes it to strain when faced with steeper inclines and high-speed passing situations. The Alpha's burly V8 solves this problem, of course, and is accompanied by a muscular exhaust note and improved throttle response at all speeds.
Off the road, the junior Hummer comes into its element and can overcome just about any terrain you encounter, owing to 9 inches of ground clearance, ample wheel travel, standard skid plates and impressive approach and departure angles. Given this off-road capability, the H3 performs admirably on pavement, with decent stability at speed. The ride is surprisingly smooth and belies the H3's tough-truck nature.