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Review: 2008 Hummer H2

November 3rd, 2008
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Whilst General Motors made the move in late 2007 to set up the Hummer brand in Australia to sell the mid size H3 SUV and an average of 90 monthly Aussie sales have been achieved to date, for those that crave something a little closer to the original Hummer H1 military truck, fear not.  The full sized Hummer H2, amazingly even longer and higher than the H1 beast which went out of production in 2006, can be purchased in Australia from American Vehicle Sales.

We have read a number of reviews about the H2 as it’s been on sale since 2003 in the USA, but we still happily decided to take up an invitation by James Hill the General Manager of American Vehicle Sales, to visit his Melbourne factory and take one for a drive.

2005 Hummer H2

General Motors, owners of the Hummer brand, has recently announced the brand is currently ‘under review’.  The word on the street is come this Christmas, GM would like to have offloaded the Hummer brand and with it the H2 and H3.  Furthermore, last month GM announced further closures of its truck plants in America, so if you’ve always looked fondly at the H2, you might want to consider one soon, as we’re not confident you’ll be able to buy a new Hummer H2 come this time next year.

Looking at a H2 in the metal, it’s one hell of an imposing vehicle.  Whilst owned by General Motors, the H2 continues to be built under contract by AM General in a dedicated plant in the state of Indiana, USA.  It’s easy to note the resemblance between the H2 and its famous older brother, the H1.

2005 Hummer H2

In America the Hummer H2 is marketed as both a genuine off-road vehicle and an all purpose truck for the road.  As such it was no surprise to hear that the H2 is often brought by Aussie city dwellers that just love the H2 for what it is.

Whilst the glossy Hummer H2 brochure stating that “When designing the H2 platform we wanted to make the most beautiful truck on the planet” is a hard mouthful to swallow, we do like vehicles that push the boundaries on the styling front.  And it’s not just the exterior styling that is unique.  On the inside the door handles are different to anything we’ve seen and the gear selector wouldn't look out of place in a jet fighter plane.

2005 Hummer H2

Stepping up into the cabin of the H2, you immediately notice the nearly vertical windscreen which is unique to its competitors.  Whilst the level roof lines may also be evident in the design of current Jeeps and Land Rover’s, neither brand makes an SUV as imposing as this.  At 2062mm wide excluding mirrors, the H2 is a significant 10cm wider on the road than a Land Rover Range Rover.  And at 2012mm high, and that’s not counting the optional cross bars, its 20cm higher than a Mercedes-Benz GL-Class which is definitely no shrinking violet.

2005 Hummer H2

Imposing as it is, it isn’t really a surprise that the Hummer H2 has a kerb weight of 2,903kg.  That’s 200kg more than a top of the range V8 petrol engine Land Rover Discovery3.  Whilst the Hummer H2 looks like a significantly larger truck, interior space might sway to the benefit of the Discovery.  This further reinforces that the H2 is a presence to behold as the Disco is one of the heaviest 4WD’s sold in Australia.

The Hummer H2 is no bare bones off roader.  Inside the driver can get comfortable sitting on, not in, large soft leather seats, listening to their favourite tunes on the standard Premium Bose sound system.  All Australian specification H2’s have seating for five, as no third row seats are offered down under.  The 2008 updated H2’s have a more premium feeling interior, with an all new dash and seats.  From the outside the ’08 model changes are more subtle; we spotted a different grille, lower front bumper and wheels.

2005 Hummer H2

We first went for a drive in a pre 2008 H2 which was powered by a Vortec 6000 V8 Petrol engine producing 242kW and 494Nm.  For reference from 2008 Hummer upgraded the H2 with a 6.2L V8 with a significantly higher 293kW and 562Nm.  The pre ’08 models also have to make do with a 4 speed auto whilst ’08 H2’s are fitted with a 6 speed auto which improves fuel economy and no doubt plays a part in the 0-60mph time dropping from 9.9 to 8.8 seconds.

Pulling off from the lights, the V8 engine sounds great.  With traffic all around us, maybe just because everyone wants a closer look at the H2, we noticed at 40km/h the engine was ticking over at just 1,000rpm.

The ‘letter box slit’ view through the windscreen is unusual for a truck of this size, however the very short bonnet and lack of front or rear overhangs means you quickly get comfortable with the size of the H2.  Not too familiar with the roads we were driving on, we missed our designated turn-off so we could head onto some dirt tracks and as such had to do a U-turn.  This is when we realised the huge turning circle on the H2; we doubt the H2 would be much fun driving down narrow city lanes.

With such impressive off-road figures you’d be crazy not to head off-road in a H2.  The standard truck can climb a 40cm vertical wall, scale a 60% grade, traverse a 40% sideslope and operate in up to 50cm of water.  And with a welded ladder-type frame will full-length, box-section side rails and a 3-piece modular design consisting of front, middle and rear sections, the H2 would laugh at any Crossover that tried to get in its way off-road.

2005 Hummer H2

Whilst we didn’t get to go true off-roading, as the H2 we’re driving is used regularly as a wedding car and we didn’t want to scratch the black duco or the non standard chrome wheels.  However on the fire trails we drove on the H2’s ride was super smooth.  The standard all terrain tyres are impressively sized 315/70 R17’s.  However American Vehicle Sales have sold a H2 with bling 28” spinners.  Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to test the locking rear diff off-road, as we’ve heard that H2’s really are the ‘ducks guts’ when the going gets rough.  If you’re going to really do some serious off-roading, American Vehicle Sales recommends removing the chrome entry side steps.   The undercarriage of the H2 is protected with thick aluminium plates shielding the engine from rocks or boulders if you’re really keen.

The H2 also comes with a standard, integral trailer hitch receiver certified to tow just over 3 tonnes.

2005 Hummer H2

So how much does it cost to get into a new H2 locally?  James Hill from Amercian Vehicle Sales quotes $170,000 to $180,000 however most buyers go for a near new pre-owned import with low kilometers.  Considering a pre-owned 2008 model year H2 with only 10,000kms sells for around $140,000 we can see why most buyers go this way.

If you’re thinking of buying one, the most popular colours for H2’s are black followed by silver than blue than white.  Avoid maroon, no surprise there, as a Hummer H2 isn’t brought by those who are afraid to be noticed.

Car rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Comparison: 2005 H2 (left) and 2008 H2 (right)

2005 Hummer H2 2008 Hummer H2
2005 Hummer H2 2008 Hummer H2
2005 Hummer H2 2008 Hummer H2
2005 Hummer H2 2008 Hummer H2

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