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The Hummer H2 debuted in 2003 as an attempt by Hummer and parent company General Motors to offer something a bit more practical than the exotic, designed-for-military-use H1. Relatively practical though it may have been, the Hummer H2's large size and U.S. military Humvee-inspired styling still made it stand out like a sweaty heavyweight prizefighter attending a Friday-night knitting class. It was extremely capable when taken off-road and easy to customize with factory options and dealer accessories. When examined solely on these merits, the H2 seemed like the ultimate pick for an SUV.
Unfortunately, it was burdened with some design flaws that make it ill-suited for everyday use. Though smaller than the original Hummer, the H2 was still quite bulky and heavy. This posed a problem on many fronts, from the obvious drain on fuel mileage to the more mundane trickiness of parallel parking or driving into a tight parking garage entrance. The truck also suffered from a less-than-competitive amount of cargo space, tight headroom, a short list of luxury features and, with the exception of the later versions, mediocre interior materials.
GM shut down Hummer in the midst of bankruptcy and a tidal shift in public perception of the brand. As such, there was only one H2 generation. Those with a true need for Herculean off-road ability in open terrain or those just smitten with its distinctive styling will find the H2 endearing. For everyone else, there are better choices available for a large, luxury-oriented SUV.
Most Recent Hummer H2
The Hummer H2 was produced from 2003-'09. It unmistakably aped its bigger H1 brother's styling, though nearly all of its hardware came from other GM truck products. There was also a model known as the H2 SUT introduced for 2005, which replaced the cargo area with a truncated pickup-style bed. It was equipped similarly to the regular H2.
Originally powered by a 6.0-liter V8 good for 316 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque and coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission, the H2 was upgraded to a 6.2-liter 393-hp V8 and a six-speed automatic transmission for 2008. As such, these are the pick of the litter given the Hummer's inherent weight.
Power was directed to the truck's meaty tires through a full-time dual-range transfer case. Advanced features included a driver-selectable rear differential locker and a drive-by-wire throttle setup that changed sensitivity when low-range gearing was selected.
Limited changes over its first few years included the arrival of an optional DVD-based navigation system in 2005, though the in-car electronics of early Hummers will feel quite antiquated today. Aside from the powertrain upgrades for '08, Hummer addressed the criticism that the H2's original cabin was poorly made and not befitting a vehicle with its price tag. The revamped cabin debuted with new seats, a redesigned dash and better materials, switchgear and electronics interfaces. Model year '09 saw the arrival of optional second-row captain's chairs and a new third-row-seat storage option that freed up more interior space.
In our reviews, we've found that the Hummer H2 had few equals in off-road situations. Thanks to nearly 10 inches of ground clearance, 42-degree approach and 38-degree departure angles, generous wheel travel and a protected underbody, the H2 could roll over just about any type of terrain without getting stuck or damaged. On tight trails, however, it could be difficult to maneuver, as its body was quite wide.
In urban environments such as densely packed city streets, the H2's width was a distinct liability. Its considerable height also created large blind spots and prevented it from being parked in some garages. Inside, the H2 offered comfortable seating for front passengers, but taller folks in the back were likely to find their heads canted to the side under the low roof. This problem didn't exist in other top large luxury SUVs of the time, which were also easier to enter and exit than the H2.