Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Hummer H3, Part 1

Maybe you've seen the Hummer TV ad where a two kids cut in line to a playground slide. The victim's attractive mother says, "I'm sorry, Jake was next." To which the other mother replies, "Yeah, well, we're next now." Then, inspired by an ad on a city bus passing by in the background, Jake's mom heads straight to the Hummer dealership, trades in her minivan for a new H3, and drives away happy with the tagline "Get Your Girl On" emblazoned across the screen. Finally, some truth in advertising. After all of the other ads with robots and monsters, or an average sized man in a workplace full of giants, Hummer is coming out and saying it: the H3 is for girls that want to feel tough.

Now, that's not to say that there's nothing macho about the H3, or that it is anything less than capable as an off-road vehicle. Only the most die-hard Jeep fans would fail to be swayed by the trail-crawling prowess of the H3. But, much like most SUVs on the market, most H3s will not be taken off-road. Few will probably even see the stability control light turn on. Point being, the H3 is an image vehicle, both for previously-snubbed milfs and the polo-wearing frat boys that love them. How else can you justify a $29,500 (base with destination, $35,550 as tested) vehicle with fuel economy lower than 19 mpg and a 220-horsepower inline-five that struggles to move all 4700 pounds?

Granted, the Hummer is not unique in its inefficiency, only in it's sloth-like performance. In 2007 the H3's engine grows to 2.7-liters and power jumps a sorely needed 22-horsepower. It's an old argument, but the argument still remains that, especially in the 30-thousand-dollar range, there are far wiser choices than the Hummer H3. But just because this reviewer would rather have an Infiniti G35 or Dodge Charger R/T does not mean that the average H3 buyer does similar cross-shopping. The H3 exists because people want to feel invincible, and in a lot ways the H3 succeeds in that role. Inside, the high seating position and narrow windows are as close to sitting in an armored car as you can get. Visibility suffers, but plenty of SUVs drivers don't seem to care about other vehicles on the road anyway so that's hardly a problem. The interior of the H3 is also one of GM's best, with plastic that doesn't feel like a Happy Meal toy and an excellent layout.

Once you actually get up to speed in the H3 it handles well for what seems to be a high center of gravity vehicle. And, soccer moms rejoice, the turning radius is fantastic for fitting into tight parking spaces at the local big box retailer. So the H3 is not some silly toy of a vehicle. As previously mentioned, it's even pretty killer off road. But any serious adventure driving would probably scratch your nice new paint job. If you're really into rock-crawling and mud-bogging, it's a better idea to buy some old beater and throw on a lift kit. But if you're really into looking like you're really into rock-crawling and mud-bogging, the H3 is a good place to start as long as you don't mind the high price of fashion. [by Mike Austin]

Related:
Holy Vortex Valve! Dealership Retrofits Hummers with Dubious Mileage Booster [internal]