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2009 Hummer H3

If any Hummer makes sense for general civilian use, it would have to be the new Hummer H3, which is

2009 hummer h3 2009 hummer h3

2009 hummer h3

smaller, less expensive and more fuel-efficient than other Hummers. The $100,000-plus Hummer H1 is a military vehicle too raw for civilian use. The swaggering civilian H2 is far more civilized than the H1. But it costs approximately $52,000 and is

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a gas-guzzler that is too large for easy driving or parking in congested areas.

The considerably smaller H3 costs $28,935 and is so user-friendly that it almost makes you feel as if you’re in one of General Motors’s smaller sport-utility vehicles or pickup trucks if you close your eyes and forget for a moment that you’re in a Hummer. That’s because General Motors owns Hummer and the H3 is based on Chevrolet’s fairly small Colorado pickup truck.

Traditional Hummer Styling

Traditional Hummer styling makes the H3 look nearly as big as the H2, as long as there is no H2 around for comparison purposes. The H3 has the same assault vehicle styling of the H2, with an extremely vertical

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Title › 2009 Hummer H3

windshield, round headlights in square holes, a 7-slot grille and a spare tire on the cargo door.

The H3 is nearly 17 inches shorter overall than the H2 and is about the length of a midsize sedan. It’s also 6.5 inches narrower and 4 inches lower, with about an 11-inch shorter wheelbase, or distance between axles.

Well Equipped

However, the H3 has a good amount of standard equipment. It includes air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt wheel, an AM/FM/CD player and power mirrors, windows and locks with remote keyless entry. There also are split-folding back seats, a rear wiper-washer and even a tire pressure monitor.

I had no chance to take the H3 off-road, but the standard traction control helped during slippery on-road driving, as did the huge tires, anti-lock brakes and tight 37-foot turning circle.

Those wanting more stability can get the GM Stabilitrak anti-skid system, which comes with the $1,695 automatic transmission. Alas, the transmission is just a 4-speed unit instead of a more modern 5-speed automatic.

First Manual Transmission

This is the first Hummer offered with a manual gearbox, although that transmission is not available with Stabilitrak. It’s a 5-speed unit that might be a bother for those who don’t like shifting during in-town driving. But it should work especially well for off-roaders who get the Adventure group with its special transfer case.

Steering and handling are fine. The ride is generally composed, but can become truck-like on some roads. After all, this is a truck. The brake pedal has a nice linear action that allows smooth stops, but braking distances are average.

Five Cylinders

Hummer was shooting for at least a 20-mpg highway rating with the H3 because the H2 is such a fuel hog. That’s partly why the H3 has a 3.5-liter engine with only five cylinders. The H3 met the target, delivering an estimated 20 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission. The figure is 19 mpg with the automatic.

Acceleration is decent—at least with just a driver aboard—because the engine produces 220 horsepower with dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It has variable valve timing to help it be more responsive at various engine speeds.

The H3 hits 60 mph from a standing start in 10.5 seconds and exhibits an acceptable 65-75 mph passing time. But the H3 could use a 6-cylinder or V8 for more punch if loaded with people and cargo because it’s pretty heavy at about 4,700 pounds.

2009 hummer h3

2009 hummer h3

Fuel Economy

However, the payoff with five cylinders is the best Hummer fuel economy. The H2 gets approximately 9 to 11 mpg in the city and is lucky to reach the low teens on highways. The estimated city figure with the H3 is 16 mpg with either transmission.

The H3 interior looks upscale, especially with the Luxury package. Gauges can be easily read and there are supportive seats, handy dual front cupholders and large, easily reached controls. However, the front console bin and glove compartment are small.

2009 hummer h3

2009 hummer h3

Interior

Hummer calls the H3 a 5-seater. But, while there’s good room for four tall adults, the center of the rear seat is uncomfortable for a fifth occupant.

The opening for the cargo area is rather high, but that area is large and its size can be increased by flipping the back seats forward—although they don’t fold far enough to allow a totally flat cargo floor. The bulky full-size spare tire attached to the swing-open cargo door makes that door difficult to open, especially if the H3 is parked at an angle.

The tire obstructs driver vision through the back window and thus makes the large outside rearview mirrors especially helpful. They can be folded against the side glass when garaging the wide H3 or when protecting them from damage in parking lots.

The H3 isn’t for everyone, but it’s more acceptable for daily use than the H2. Its price, size, fuel economy and unique image should attract new Hummer buyers. And it hasn’t abandoned the off-road prowess that is a strong Hummer selling point.

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