Serious Off-road Performance
People who own Hummers owe it to themselves and their trucks to take the vehicles off-road, because that is where they excel. The H3 can Ford up to two feet of water at slow speeds without contaminating the engine compartment, and crawl up a sixty degree grade.
For those who haven't tried it, driving up a hill that steep is an act of faith. All the driver can see is sky: he has to trust that the vehicle will do its job, and the spotter at the top will help him avoid any obstacles over the crest.
Nine inches of ground clearance protects the chassis against most rocks and roots on the trail, but the H3 has underbody cladding to protect sensitive components just in case. Approach and departure angles are substantial, so the front and rear bumper don't hang up when the H3 goes on or off of a steep hill.
The off-road suspension package on the test truck adds specially tuned shocks and a full-locking rear differential to provide extra traction on challenging trails and through sand. Full-time four-wheel drive sends traction to the wheels with the greatest grip, so the driver can maintain directional control when one or more wheels is off the ground.
A electronic transfer case provides extremely low gearing, so the truck can crawl over challenging terrain. Front and rear recovery hooks allow Hummer drivers to rescue other vehicles that might be stuck, or to be rescued in the very unlikely event that they find a hole too big for the Hummer to crawl out of.
Comforts of Home
The H3 Alpha comes standard with leather trim and heated, power front seats with adjustable lumbar. All models are Bluetooth compatible. An AM/FM radio with six-disc in-dash CD includes standard XM satellite radio. Satellite radio is a feature I can't say enough good things about, especially for those who take long road trips.
Both the driver and front passenger should find it easy to reach audio and HVAC controls in the center stack. The doors have map pockets but not bottle holders. Cupholders in the floor console are large enough for water bottles.
Two 12-volt powerpoints allow the driver and front passenger to recharge electronic devices on the go. An optional power sunroof brings extra ambient light inside the rather dark black interior.
The rear seats fold flat to create a cargo floor large enough to slide a bike in. Since the cargo area isn't especially tall, buyers who plan to carry more than one bike on a regular basis should plan to install a roof rack.
All models come with four-channel antilock brakes, stability control, front and head curtain side airbags. Standard OnStar automatically notifies police and emergency medical personnel if the airbags deploy.
Base price on the H3 Alpha is $38,645, not including a $615 destination charge. General Motors produces the H3 at its Shreveport, Louisiana assembly plant.
2008 Hummer H3 SUV Alpha
Likes: V-8 engine offers exceptional power and performance, giving the H3 car-like ride and handling. Like all Hummers, the H3 has exceptional off-road capability. Towing up to 6000 pounds exceeds our ALV minimum standards.
Dislike: Small rear window creates large blind spots to the back of the truck.
Nina Russin has been reporting on the auto industry for twenty years. She received her ASE certification as an automotive technician in 1991. Her writing and photography have appeared in numerous automotive enthusiast publications: she was also a weekly automotive columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for ten years. An avid distance runner, she has completed ten marathons, including a Boston qualifier. Nina lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and two cats.