2009 Hummer H3T Alpha, Part TwoS

Exterior Design: **
Let's face it, it's a Hummer H3, and that means boxy and kinda cute like a GI Joe toy. The grille on the hood has no function, nor do the air breathers by the windshield. But, with 10.2" of ground clearance and huge knobbly tires, it does carry a certain air of purpose about it.

Interior Design: ***
An extra star for not using chrome plastics. The seats are perfection. With all the legroom in the backseat, it's a nice vehicle for passengers as well. The instrument panel lighting is attractive and easy to read.

Acceleration: ***
4.10 gears get these 2.5 tons of steel and plastic up and moving. It's not gonna blow anyone's doors off, but it does what it needs to in traffic.

Braking: ****
Big discs at each corner slow this thing down in a hurry, and the dynamic rear proportioning should keep the rubber rolling in the back regardless of load. There's no handbrake present, and that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The vehicle will automatically engage brakes if it rolls backwards for 2 seconds, but a handbrake would have felt more natural.

Ride: **
Bouncy and truckish, but this is a pre-production model, so lets hope it gets smoothed out by the time it reaches showroom floors.

Handling: ***
Given the ride height and center of gravity, this thing actually handles pretty well. The massive sway bars in the front and back help cornering a lot and the new steering gearing (16:1, 3 1/8 lock-to-lock) made parking and general driving pretty easy.

Gearbox: ****
Its 50:1 crawl ratio and 4.03 low range lock make downhill grades virtually brake free and let the 4-speed HydraMatic do all the work, keeping 2.5 tons under control. Highway shifting is silky smooth.

Audio: **
The speakers are fine and amplification is decent, but where's the iPod jack? XM is great and all, but c'mon, even Aveo's have an AUX input jack these days. It can't cost that much to implement this, so it just seems like an annoying oversight.

Toys: ***
The nav/entertainment system is nice, but throws a distracting glare into the back window. The pushbutton 4x4 controls are easy to read and conveniently located above the radio. Monochrome reverse vision seems a bit dated, but probably gives a better image in low light situations. The sunroof improves off-road visibility, especially when crawling down steep grades. OnStar and XM are nice doodads as well, at least for the free trial periods.

Value: N/A
Can't really call this one until pricing is announced, but there's bound to be a premium on the Hummer brand.

Overall: **
Probably the most complete vehicle in the Hummer range, the H3T improves on its relatives' best attributes — off-road ability and macho styling — but still suffers from the same problems - 'roid rage styling and enormous dimensions for relatively little storage space. A plain old pickup would be cheaper and more practical. Still, if you must have a Hummer, this is the one to get.

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