Exterior Design: ***
The H3 looks like a Tonka toy, in a good way. It also looks exactly like how you'd expect a Hummer to look, although other than styling cues the appearance isn't close to the H1 or H2. So the aggressive, tough look of the H3 is a success. It only gets negative points for the fake plastic vent on the hood, and the fact that we saw a black H3 with chrome door handles and fuel filler door the other day.
Interior Design: ****
This is one of GM's best interiors. Even the fake metal surrounding the radio and HVAC controls looks good. In the rear, 60/40 split seats fold down almost flat, and the cup holder between the rear seats is specially fit to hold a juice box. Map pockets behind the rear seats are removable for cleaning.
Let's put it this way: the power-to-weight ratio of the H3 is just a little bit better than a 1988 Toyota Camry. Or, let's put it another way: to speed up in the H3 for highway merging or passing takes more advance planning that most international summits. 2007 models, which should be on sale any day now, get a power boost, but that's news on par with the Bluth Corporation from Arrested Development being upgraded from "sell" to "don't buy."
It's really difficult to evaluate the brakes when you can't get going fast enough to actually perform an adequate test, but the H3's brakes seem fine.
Whether you're riding dirty, or just riding, the H3 is smooth on the highway and soaks up huge bumps with no problem. The wheels are well isolated as well, so that on corner doesn't jar the whole vehicle like on other off-roaders.
The H3 is actually a lot of fun to throw in corners and learn an important lesson in understeer. The wheels howl like they're in a '70s cop drama, but nothing unexpected or scary ever happens.
The four-speed automatic works hard, since any time you push the gas pedal it drops about two gears in search of the meager power reserves higher up the rev band. And we applaud, or at least have sympathy for, such hard work and give it four stars.
There's not much in the way of entertainment choices — if you want DVD screens in the back of the headrest you'll have to visit your local car audio shop. The upgraded Monsoon stereo has seven speakers and a six-disc in-dash CD changer.
Do OnStar and Homelink count as toys? That's about all there is in the H3.
The spec sheet boasts a whopping 29.5 cubic feet of storage, but the space below the top of the rear seats is considerably smaller; the cargo area is 32 inches deep with the rear seats up. But there are two good things about the H3's trunk: the rear hatch is sprung so that it opens on its own after you pull the handle, and the carpeted cargo mat has a reversible rubber side.
Call us cheap, but thirty-five large for a small SUV seems like a lot of money, and you don't even get standard leather, xenon headlamps, or six cylinders.
If you want an H3 it's certainly a good choice, but if you're looking for a small SUV, or even a small family car, you can get better value, fuel economy, or performance elsewhere.
[by Mike Austin]
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Hummer H3, Part 1 [internal]