AT THE WHEEL REVIEWS: TRUCKS
Hummer H2 SUT : Second generation of durability
By Les Jackson Cruise Control Radio.com
The SUT designation on the new H2 means it is fitted with a small (2-feet deep, 4-feet wide) pickup bed that can be enlarged by folding the midgate (behind the rear passenger seat) and the rear seat forward to create a cargo bed that measures 4-feet wide and 6-feet deep.
This is a wonderfully versatile configuration that pays for itself the first time you need to pick up a refrigerator at the local Sears, a “necessity” that occurred within hours of the arrival of the H2. When the cargo area isn’t being used, a locking hard tonneau cover will keep everything clean and safe, and the bed has four 500-pound capacity tie-downs. A nice feature of the bed is its rubber mats that can be hosed off easily.
My test H2 SUT (Sports Utility Truck) was finished in a elegant subdued metallic grey/blue color, still it called attention to its imposing stature, which is one of the reasons people buy them. Everything about the H2 is meant to be impressive, from its 35-inch tires (the largest on any GM passenger vehicle) to its boxy body to its straight-up, narrow windshield. Its military-inspired shape is less for function and more for “family resemblance” with the H1, although the big tow hooks on the bumpers are fully capable of dragging most anything. “Anything,” in this case, proved to be my ’55 Thunderbird restoration project that needed to be moved out of its garage bay and into another. Its 3,400-pound bulk offered little resistance to the Hummer’s pulling force and, frankly, I think we could have pulled it just as easily without the wheels mounted. The H2 can tow twice that weight, by the way.
The H2 SUT carries lots of the Hummer trademarks, including the Class 3 trailer hitch, short overhangs (for off-road capability), access holes in both bumpers for hitch receivers that can be fitted with winches, tow hoops and retrieval hooks. All this stuff really is functional, by the way, because GM proudly boasts the Hummer’s ability to get you through any terrain that a vehicle can possibly move over. The H2 can ford 20 inches of water also, not to mention climb 16-inch obstructions. It can do all this while carrying five people in air-conditioned comfort.
Powering the H2 is a beefy, very thirsty, 6-liter Vortec V-8 that puts 325 horsepower into a HydraMatic 4L65-E four-speed automatic with full-time all-wheel drive. The drive system has five operational modes and a two-speed planetary gearset, allowing the SUT to adapt to virtually any road condition. Settings include: 4HI for normal driving; 4HI-locked for slippery conditions; 4LO-locked for crawling over rough terrain; 4LO-locked + rear differential locked for optimum slow-speed capability (I used this climbing a muddy ski slope last September and it worked!); and Neutral, for flat towing the SUT. An optional air-suspension system is available also.
On the Inside
Inside the H2 is a major contrast with the outside. With all that rugged, go-anywhere appearance (and genuine capability), you don’t expect a living-room comfort level inside. That’s what you get, however, from the full-power leather seats (with lumbar support) to the XM satellite radio to the OnStar and Nav systems. Head and shoulder room is excellent, thanks to the boxy design of the body. Engineers spent a lot of time insulating the passengers from outside noises, so there’s a boulevard quality about riding in the vehicle. The H2 is sort of a beauty-and-the-beast thing.
A rather nice feature is the ability to lower all four side windows and open the sunroof, giving the H2 an open-air feel similar to older Jeeps – without the noise and drafts, of course. The rear seats are 60/40 folding, adding to the overall combination of passenger/cargo configurations. And where might the spare tire be, you ask? Well, it’s bolted to the tail gate, high enough off the ground where it won’t affect clearances. The license tag is mounted in the center of the wheel, and removing the thing for changing flats might prove to take a fair amount of weight-lifting ability. It looks cool, though, and there’s really no other place for it.
Economy isn’t the strong suit of any Hummer. The H2 SUT delivers the same less-than-frugal fuel mileage, although it carries 32 gallons of the premium stuff. You can’t expect more than the low teens per gallon, but then the thing weighs 6,400 pounds. Dragging three tons of machinery around eats up gas, so why consider something like this unless you need it? Another consideration is the height limitation of your office building’s garage. The H2’s luggage racks add quite a bit to the overall height, and you need 81 inches of clearance to keep from getting hung up. That’s more than many garages can accommodate.
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