“That 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison. I must own it!” your inner patriot screams. “The 2020 Jeep Gladiator! Please let me spend all of my money on it!” your apple pie-eating, baseball-watching, red, white, and blue subconscious whispers. This love of off-road pickups is cute, but let me remind you: The short-lived 2009 and 2010 Hummer H3T is the truck you want today, but it came 10 years too soon.
I’ve never driven the H3T, but I can tell you straight-up that right now, as this mid-size truck craze gets fiery thanks to the new Gladiator, ZR2 Bison, and 2019 Ford Ranger, the H3T is looking cooler than ever. Arguably cooler than any mid-size truck on the market today.
And I don’t mean just literally. Yes, it’s a sexy truck, with those giant fender flares, available enormous 33-inch tires, beefy door handles, and squared off look. But it was also compelling in ways that weren’t just aesthetic.
For one, it came with a 300 horsepower, 320 lb-ft 5.3-liter V8 engine, which is more cylinders than can be found in any mid-size truck today. It also had available front and rear lockers, bigger tires than anything in the segment sans the new Gladiator (which also has 33s), a 4:1 low-range in the transfer case, 4.10:1 axle ratios, and phenomenal approach and departure angles at 38.7 and 30.6, respectively (at a low 20.2, the breakover angle is about the same as the new Gladiator’s). Not to mention, the H3T with the optional 33s had over 10 inches of ground clearance, which bests everything but the new Jeep Gladiator.
The great thing was that the off-road hardware could be had on a number of different variants, including ones with the 242 horsepower, 242 lb-ft 3.7-liter five-cylinder motor. While you may wonder “Why would I opt for anything but the V8,” there is a simple answer: the five cylinder came with a five-speed manual.
Yes, you could get a manual H3T with all that wonderful off-road hardware by simply selecting the Off-Road Suspension option, which added the 4:1 transfer case, the 33s, and the locking front and rear diffs. That setup got you an excellent 68.9:1 crawl ratio. The V8 with the off-road suspension package also had a solid crawl ratio at 50.6.
In a May 2008 review, Motor Trend described its experience off-roading the H3T in Moab, writing:
Still, it crawled up rock steps, ran through sand washes, and navigated steep ledges with confidence and capability to spare. With the push-button front and rear lockers on, it acted like a tractor on the trail.
The H3T was a beast.
When properly equipped, the V8 H3T Alpha was rated to tow 5,900 pounds and carry over 1,000 in the bed. Those numbers are a bit lower than today’s mid-size truck contenders, but they’re not horrible.
Sure, the interior looks pretty dated when you look at it in 2018 (especially the dashboard), but it wasn’t bad for an American pickup back then. The 2019 Colorado ZR2 Bison’s interior, on the other hand, is definitely dated for 2018.
In the end, the H3T was a giant flop, despite being—by today’s standards—an incredibly compelling truck. Part of that had to do with the high fuel prices back then. Even the smaller engine with the manual only managed 14 MPG city and 18 on the highway, while the V8 got a dismal 13 city, 16 highway.
In 2009, one of the two model years during which the H3T was sold (2009 and 2010), Car and Driver wrote in a sub-headline “Nice, but could there be a worse time to launch a Hummer pickup?”
With fuel costs through the roof, Americans out of money for wildly over-offroad-y trucks, and GM having to kill the Hummer brand as it went through bankruptcy, the capable and handsome H3T was short-lived, with fewer than 3,000 ever sold.
That’s a true shame, because if that exact same truck were sold today, it’d be an unstoppable success.