Used 2003 HUMMER H2 Review

Edmunds expert review

Despite its more civilized design, the 2003 Hummer H2 still maintains the head-turning looks and unstoppable off-road prowess that made the original famous.

What's new for 2003

Macho for the masses. The 2003 Hummer H2 is an all-new vehicle in the Hummer lineup. Though possessing styling similar to the original, this all-new Hummer is more manageable and more affordable.

Vehicle overview

Introduction: The H2 marks the beginning of a whole new era for both AM General and General Motors. For those who aren't familiar with the former, AM General is the 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. With a sticker price of more than $70,000, it wasn't exactly your average sport-utility, but its unstoppable offroad ability and rugged military styling made it a hit with ranchers 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 was barely enough room for four, and the interior ergonomics were poor. Although the suspension allowed it to climb over just about anything, negotiating traffic in the nearly 3-ton beast wasn't much fun, either.

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 the vehicles. What the General did do, however, is design the H2 using its extensive inventory of existing parts. The result was a concept-to-showroom development time of just 16 months, almost unheard of in an industry where new designs typically take three to four years to hit the marketplace.

The idea for the H2 is fairly simple. Take the unmistakable look and feel of the original Hummer and infuse it with the comfort and drivability of more traditional sport-utility vehicles. More importantly, do it without sacrificing any of the capability that made the H1 (now the official name of the original) unique. In other words, the H2 couldn't be just a rebadged Chevy Tahoe. To achieve this goal, GM engineers selected all the best components from their trucks and SUVs and combined them into an all-new vehicle worthy of the Hummer name.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: The H2 comes in only one body style and one trim level, but two major options packages known as the Adventure series and the Lux series add numerous options.

Features like dual zone 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, tool and first-aid kits and a front brush guard. The Lux package doesn't include the air suspension, but it does add leather seating, a chrome appearance package, a brushed-aluminum roof rack, tubular side steps and the Adventure package's audio system and floor mats. Other stand-alone options include heated front and rear seats, a power sunroof and an overhead light bar.

Powertrains and Performance: All H2s are powered by GM's 6.0-liter V8 rated at 316 horsepower and 360 lb-ft 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. Safety: The H2 comes standard with driver and front passenger airbags and an integrated ABS/traction control system with Dynamic Brake Proportioning. The advanced traction system allows the H2 to propel itself even if only a single wheel has grip, while driver-selectable settings fine-tune the system to respond better to varying road conditions. The H2 has yet to be tested by the IIHS or NHTSA. Interior Design and Special Features: Unlike the awkwardly configured H1's, the H2's interior is arranged like a typical fullsize SUV. Power-adjustable captain's chairs reside upfront, while a three-passenger bench seat makes up the second row. A bulky fullsize spare cuts the third row down to just one solitary jumpseat, but it can be removed to make way for extra cargo. The overall design emphasizes the H2's rugged personality, with exposed attachment bolts and an aircraft-style shift lever, but standard equipment like dual-zone climate control and a nine-speaker Bose sound system remind you that the H2 is a thoroughly modern vehicle. Driving Impressions: Despite being slightly downsized compared to the original, the H2 still feels massive on the road. The ride is slightly stiffer than a Suburban or Tahoe, but not so much as to be uncomfortable. The H2's offroad 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 adequate, but the substantial weight of the vehicle is evident.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.