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2003 Hummer H2 Road Test

By John Heilig  
Photos by Charles Ofria

Category: $50,000 + Sport Utility Vehicle
Who should buy this car: If you are looking for a vehicle that will intimidate anyone who dares venture out in front of you, and you want something that can darn near climb the side of a building (while providing a decent highway ride) this one is for you.
Comparable models in this class: Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon Denali, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus GX470, Lexus LX470, Lincoln Navigator, Toyota Land Cruiser
Well, the General does know what he's doing. General Motors saw an icon in the making and bought the Hummer name from American General. The idea was to create and market Hummers other than the military-based H1 that American General markets. Those of us who are not great fans of the H1 were wondering what the new vehicle would look like.

As any of you who have seen the H2 on the road can attest, the vehicle is very obviously a relative to the H1. But it's a ton more practical.

Based on the Tahoe platform, which in itself is a pretty decent machine, the H2 took all its styling cues from its big brother. So from the start, here is a vehicle that will appeal to the Arnold Schwartzneggers of the world.

I am not a fan of H1 styling, but the H2 takes the general design theme and makes it more appealing. This isn't a "pretty in pink" version of the H1, but one that has all the physical attributes of the military version cleaned up for civilian use. H2 is a vehicle I'd take to the country club; the H1 I'd leave home in favor of a Kia.

The H2 is quite a usable vehicle. For one thing, you can actually hold conversations with the passengers in the H2. The engine is a 6.0-liter GM Vortec V8 instead of a diesel of gigantic proportions. And it's located up front under the hood, not in between the passengers as it is in the H1. So there's more usable space inside the vehicle.

H2 is a true five-passenger vehicle (six if you opt for the 3rd row seat which seats one), where H1 was good for only four. And these passengers will have comfortable seats, not cramped ones as in the H1. Behind the seats is a cargo area that is listed at 40 cubic feet, but a lot of that area is taken up by the inside-mounted spare tire (the spare is also the reason why you can only fit a one passenger seat back there).

I think H2 earns its stripes primarily by having excellent ride quality. Constant readers will note that I have liked the Tahoe platform for a while, and there's no reason to change that opinion with the Hummer. You can go down a highway and have a smooth ride, which is what you want on a highway.

But H2 is also a great performer off road. While we didn't have the opportunity in our extended test, we did drive an H2 at General Motors' Proving Grounds in Midland, Michigan, and they have an obstacle course set up that would test any vehicle's abilities. The most impressive part of the course to me was a series of steps. The first is six inches high, the second 12, the third 18 and the fourth 24. You're not going to run into too many obstacles that you'll really have to clear that will be taller than that. The H2 cleared all heights (in Low-Low 4WD gearing), and drove away with a smile.

In addition, the H2 can climb a 60-degree grade, and can handle a 40-degree side grade. That means you're almost looking at the ground and the H2 can still negotiate. That's due to the relatively low overall height and wide width. H2 also has a 40-41 degree approach angle (depending on shocks) and a 38-39.6-degree departure angle. These are serious off-road numbers.

Some H2s we have seen have had low-hanging exhaust systems that would compromise the vehicle's ability to deal with off-road situations, but our tester, and all the H2s we've seen at GM have plenty of ground clearance. Maybe the "low hanging" H2s were vehicles that had been modified in some way.

H2 also has more normal 17-inch all-terrain tires, rather than the 20-inch tires on the H1. Granted, 17-inch tires like these aren't cheap, but they're a lot easier on the wallet than the bigger ones.

Fuel economy is poor, as you'd expect from a vehicle of this size. We averaged around 10 mpg, but still that was more than the H1. The shocker came when we had to fill the 32-gallon tank. Ow.

GM is also stretching the pallet with the H2 with the bright yellow one in these photos as well as an attractive orange-red one that we drove. We've seen the H2's in all the more normal colors as well.

The Hummer H2 isn't for everyone. But it's for a lot more people, in my estimation, than the H1 was.

2002 The Auto Page Syndicate 

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Specifications 

Engine Type 6.0 liter overhead valve V-8 with cast iron block, cast aluminum cylinder heads & 2 valves per cylinder
Horsepower 316 @ 5200 RPM
Torque 360 @ 4000 RPM
Fuel Recommended Regular Unleaded.
Transmission & Drivetrain 4-speed electronically controlled automatic
On-demand 4-wheel-drive with center and rear locking differentials
Tires - Standard LT315/70R17 all terrain tires
Overall Length 189.8"
Wheelbase 122.8"
Width 81.2"
Turning Diameter 43.5 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight 6,400 lbs.
Fuel Tank 32 Gals.
Miles Per Gallon EPA city n/a , hwy n/a. 
Towing Capacity 7,000 lbs.
Base Price $48,455 plus $735 destination charge 

2003 Hummer H2

Standard Equipment

  • 5 person seating capacity
  • 8-way power driver and passenger seats with adjustable lumbar support
  • Dual Zone Climate Control for driver and front passenger
  • Memory seat for 2 drivers
  • leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Alloy and leather trim on shift knob
  • Homelink universal remote garage door transmitter
  • Electrochromatic inside rearview mirror
  • AM/FM cassette in-dash single CD player stereo
  • Bose premium brand speakers (9)
  • OnStar telecommunications service
  • Chrome grille
  • Skid plates
  • High-low gear selection
  • Trailer hitch and wiring
  • Fullsize spare tire
  • Roof rack

Major Available Options

  • 3rd Row Folding Bench Seat (for one additional passenger)
  • AM/FM Radio w/In-Dash 6-CD Changer
  • Air Suspension Package
  • Road Roof Spotlights (black or bright aluminum)
  • Chrome Appearance Package
  • Power Glass Sunroof
  • Heated leather seats

For more information on the Hummer H2, visit hummer.com

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