Test: 2005 Hummer H2 SUT
No vehicle has a more polarizing effect throughout different layers of American culture than the Hummer H2. Emotions run higher than just having a simple opinion about the vehicle. People take action. From the bling-blingers who trick out their rides to make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed to the eco-terrorists who vandalize them to get their cause noticed. Even the once clearly defined line between church and garage has blurred as religious pundits debate if Jesus or Pontius Pilate would drive a Hummer H2.
The H2 was introduced at the top of the biggest wave of both SUV popularity and scorn. Although based on the GMT800 platform that supports all of General Motors’ fullsize trucks and SUVs, the H2 was designed to compliment the original Hummer, which is now called the H1. The Hummer is a civilian version of the High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), or Humvee for short, built by AM General for the military since 1985. After the Humvee earned its hero status in Desert Storm, AM General released the Hummer in 1992 to the delight of battlefield wannabes and macho icons such as Arnold Schwarzenegger. When GM acquired the brand rights to the Hummer name, the automaker set out leverage the Hummer’s character and popularity by building an even more civilized, luxurious version called the H2. It also didn’t hurt that a tax loophole made purchasing a Hummer a bargain to those with knowledgeable CPAs.
Entertainers, athletes and wealthy mallrats paid up to $10,000 over sticker price to have one of the first H2s in the showroom. Owners quickly dressed up their rides with huge wheels, O-ring tires, wild paint, plush interiors and ear-busting sound systems. TV shows and magazines followed so many buildups that one thought a Hummer was required equipment for the beautiful people.
The SUV category was already a frequent target of critics who despised the vehicles’ ostentatious size, emissions and poor fuel economy. Sadly, the Hummer H2 rallied the anti-SUV troops to the point that a few radicals started burning and vandalizing Hummers. For the first year, no one could have an impartial opinion of the Hummer. You were either for personal freedom or against polluting gas guzzlers.
Soaring oil prices and the diminishing novelty of owning a combat poseur has led to falling sales. Through September of 2004, Hummer sales are down about 20 percent over the previous year. To pump a little energy into the brand for the 2005 model year, GM released the Hummer H2 SUT, a pickup version that’s a little more expensive than the SUV model. Now that the furor had resided, I was looking forward to a long drive in a $58,000 truck that hopefully wouldn’t draw unwanted attention.
The SUT removes considerable bulk from the standard Hummer body design with the 20-inch deep cargo box. Since the SUV Hummer had the spare mounted in the cargo area—a constant complaint from owners—GM had to implement a tire carrier on the back bumper. The beefy carrier swings away for access to the tailgate but adds about a foot to the already long 203-inch body.