you tired of having the vehicle you drive betray you as a Soccer Mom? Here's one
that will transform you into a Socko Mutha.
unable to leap tall buildings, the Hummer2 can scale rugged rocks and wade water
not to mention haul your groceries and your kids' teammates. And it most certainly
can wow your neighbors. What's more it is carefully appointed, comfortable, spacious
and drives quite nicely on the highway, thank you.
Humvee, a wide and capable military vehicle of Gulf War fame, was slightly demobbed
to become the first Hummer, a mammoth loud, uncomfortable sand box toy for large,
rich boys. (Prototype: Arnold Schwarzenegger.) General Motors made an arrangement
with AM General (the manufacturer) with an idea of exploring a path similar to
that taken by a previous military vehicle that made it big in civvies - the Jeep.
The Hummer2 (aka H2) is the second civilian branch off that Humvee trunk. There
will be others even smaller coming along. The Hummer1 (about 1000 units a year)
will continue as well.
H2, projected as a 30,000 per year seller, is related via platform to GM's other
large trucks and SUVs - Suburban, Escalade, Tahoe, Yukon, Sierra, Silverado etc.
However the H2 is much more than a slab-sided body and squared off nose designed
for effect. For economy the H2 draws heavily on parts already in the bin but it
is considerably modified to make a serious on-road off-road and off-off-road performer.
In use it is as capable as a genii; in appearance it is orderly and eye pleasing.
The H2 is no wannabe; it is an "is." In short this Hummer is a humdinger.
details: the engine is a Vortec 6-liter V8 gasoline engine producing 316 horsepower
at 5200 rpm and 360 lb-ft of torque at 4000. The transmission is a four-speed
The Hummerization of the package begins with shortening the basic
platform to reduce overhang to a minimum and get the wheels (ruddy big ones) as
close to the four corners as possible. If a vehicle is to be more than just a
foul weather friend or a fishing-cabin pack mule it must score well in the statistics
for things called approach and descent angles and breakover.
numbers determine how steep an incline can be attacked heading upward or left
behind heading down without serious insults to the bodywork. And how sharp a crest
can be crossed without getting hung up teetering there in need of a skyhook. In
short these are the measure of off-roadability.
a sharp curb of normal street height. Probably your car can climb it if approached
just right. Now make that curb 18" high, a comfortable seating height. The
H2 can roll up over that with even greater ease.
the record, the H2's approach and descent angles are 41.7 and 41.8 degrees and
the breakover 27.5 degrees. The numbers may mean little to a driver whose off-road
experience has been an unintentional detour through the neighbor's petunias, but
trust me - these are impressive. Furthermore, the underside of the H2 where vulnerable
parts live is plated and caged and otherwise armored against the intrusion of
rocks and stumps with malicious intent.
a while there in the evolution of the SUV "car-like" became the goal
with off-road capability belittled. The four-wheel drive was to enhance sure-footedness
in bad weather and perhaps the road clearance was high enough to clear snowdrifts
left by a plow at the driveway entrance. But no low range gears, no creeper, no
skid plates. After all, ran the argument; only some 5-10% of SUV owners ever venture
into the boonies anyway, why build for that?
percentage of SUVs pressed into off-road use has not noticeably increased but
nonetheless we now have some SUV makers vying for bragging rights in off-road
Land Rover makes certain all of its offerings are serious backcountry
contenders and has even added locking differentials to the new Range Rover, something
the older Rovers scorned.
reclaimed its G-Wagen from an independent importer, dubbed it the G series and
brought the price down to the mere high country (In the $70,000s) out of the stratosphere.
The G-Wagen sports three locking differentials and a suspension that allows it
to crawl over appallingly rough terrain. The Hummer1 could best the G-Wagen only
on inclines of loose shale because the H1 could deflate its tires to some ten
pounds for traction and then re-inflate them from an on-board compressor.
Jeep Cherokees still perform quite well off road but their angles of approach
and departure are limiting. Jeep Wranglers need after-market tweaking to protect
the underbelly and to limit the slip of the differentials or lock them.
comes the Hummer2.
H2 manages to one-up its competition in one or more of these areas: price; styling;
on or off-road performance; space, comfort and quiet. It's an amazingly appealing
package even for those of us who found the H1 as a civilian simply silly.
feature of the H2 certain to find favor among off-roaders is what they call the
creeper or granny gear. This low-low gear allows a vehicle to crawl steadily along,
mountain-eating, up steeps and down at the same grinding pace without more than
an occasional touch on the brakes for the longest downward plunges. Brakes are
unsettling to a vehicle in extreme duress so the creeper gear is lovely.
another welcome feature - at the slow pace of rough off-road the throttle input
is automatically adjusted so that a delicate touch on the pedal is possible. None
of that rough-trail inadvertent bouncy-bounce on the gas that leads to un-cool
lurching. This feature is equally helpful in maneuvering on icy pavement.
H2 hit the dealers (some 150 of the top GM dealers in the country) in July and
has been rolling out the door just as fast. Of course in California, capital of
the gotta-have-it-now car buyer, rumor has it that $2000 and upwards in premiums
sticker prices, by the by, are $48,800 for the H2 with stock suspension. Add some
niceties (like leather seating and a huge sunroof) along with what GM calls airspring
suspension - good for leveling the ride almost magically and also elevating the
ride height by two inches if one chooses.
you say you're not into 4-wheeling. The H2 might induce you to try it. It's no
chore with its roomy comfort and excellent on-road manners to get you to the site.
And it can excel once there as well. Hummer clubs are dotted here and there. Join
But even if you treat this SUV the way you treat your soccer mom vehicle
- gathering and fetching - the H2 will do you proud and earn your kids points
from those hypercritical scorekeepers at middle school. True, it will cost you
at the gas pump (green it is not, whatever color you choose.)
you be the only woman in an H2? Not at all. As one dealer put it: "Of my
buyers 30 percent are women who don't have to ask anyone else's permission and
70 percent are men who do."
So try this H2. You can go for it on your
own or give him the thumbs up.
Click here for more information on the Hummer H2.