What can be said about the new Hummer H2 that can't be surmised by simply looking at the beast. The second generation Hummer is derived from a modified Chevy Suburban platform, stripping it of the many unique mechanical features found on the H1like the disc brakes mounted at the opposite end of the drive axles. But the H2 also gains from its SUV origins, especially in the way it drives and its new, narrow footprint. The new H2 also loses many of the quirky mannerisms attributed to a vehicle designed for military duty but retrofitted to serve as a civilian carrier for well-to-do patriots.
In just about everyway, the new H2 represents a more civilized means of mass transport than the H1. Its suspension setup is better adapted to dealing with the daily rigors of trans-suburban terrain crossing (highway driving) as well as tactical fast moving vehicle avoidance maneuvers (stop and go traffic.) But should the need arise, the H2 has been equipped with a more than competent off-road ability that can easily traverse flooded roadways or snow-covered back roads. In any case, the H2 will have no problem delivering on the promise of both its rugged good looks and undeniably capable heritage.
The H2 has room for only five passengers, though you can squeeze in a sixth if you order the optional single-passenger third-row seat. Only one person can fit in the third row because the massive 17-inch spare tire takes up the space where a second seat would normally fit. This set up does not leave much room for cargo, making the roof-mounted rack the only viable alternative storage area. Up front, the accommodations are much more amenable, with eight-way power seats and optional heated seat bottoms and backs to keep the available leather seats from giving you the cold shoulder. The rear seating is bench style and can also be equipped with bum warmers. You'll have to get used to the expansive center console that separates you from the person occupying the passenger seat, but then again, maybe this is a good thing.
The dash design is leaps and bounds over that of the H1, with modern controls, full instrumentation and such luxuries as dual-zone climate control and a Bose audio system with no less than nine speakers. Though better than the original, the quality of the plastics and the overall fit and finish is not as nice as those found in other GM SUVs.
Where the H2 cannot be bettered is in its off-road capabilities and bullet-proof drivetrain. The H2 is blessed with a Borg-Warner two-speed electronically controlled AWD system. The electronically controlled transfer case offers five separate positions, including the ability to lock the center differential, the rear differential or both. In "High Open", the system splits the engines torque 40/60 front-to-rear; this is the normal power routing for routine driving. For off road adventuring, including steep hill encounters and bouldering, the transfer case can be locked, creating a perfect 50/50 balance of power. A four-channel anti-lock brake set up and traction control module helps limited wheel spin on slippery or unstable ground and can even route power to a single wheel when necessary. The H2's AWD system works so well because it is powered by a dynamo of a V8 known as the Vortec 6000. With 315 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque, there are very few obstacles in nature that the H2 cannot overcome.
Once you pull yourself up into the driver's seat, you'll find your view out to be a mixed bag. Though the high seating position delivers a commanding view ahead, the narrow side windows make it difficult to view smaller object (like cars) that are close to the H2's sides; the feeling is not unlike being inside a Brinks armored car. Thankfully the large side mirrors help you see objects and persons that reside below the windows high sill line. On the open road, the H2 moves right along, oblivious to the laws of aerodynamics. The big Hummer is surprisingly stable and the position of the wide 17-inch tires at the vehicles outermost corners means you get minimal body roll and pretty respectable handling. Again, this accolade must be taken in context; we are talking about SUV handling, not a sports car.
If you still have your heart set on an H2, you may have some obstacle climbing of your own ahead; these vehicles are fetching a premium far above the $49,000 MSRP and sales don't show any sign of declining. Better get in line now.