Reviewed: 2008 HUMMER H2 SUT
By: G. Chambers Williams III, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Posted: 05-23-08 11:11 PT
© 2008

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The Hummer H2 enters its second generation for model year 2008, with key interior upgrades, some tweaks to the exterior, but no major changes to the styling of a vehicle that everyone either loves or loves to hate.

While its average fuel economy of about 11 miles per gallon makes the H2 a favorite target of some environmental activists, this vehicle still turns heads wherever it goes, and General Motors was careful not to change the exterior much because that's what fans like the most about it.

The vehicle's detractors chose to display their un-affection for the H2 in a rather childish way during a recent media preview of the 2008 model in Durango, Colo., according to a report in the industry weekly Automotive News.

The vehicles, lined up outside a hotel waiting for the visiting journalists to drive them, had been pelted with raw eggs overnight, the magazine said.

There are more mature ways to advocate better fuel economy, and there also are vehicles other than the Hummer that are fuel-inefficient - including many of the large pickups Texans favor.

But the Hummer's unique styling and extremely loyal consumer following make it an easy mark for those who want to show their disregard for vehicles that use a lot of gas. With the higher fuel prices, Hummer sales are down about 30 percent this year, so the marketplace might be taking care of the issue on its own.

But there are legitimate uses for a vehicle such as this - even more so than some of the big pickups that are being used as routine family haulers.

For instance, it's hard to find a vehicle anywhere that can roll over rugged terrain the way an H2 can, and for those of us who enjoy trail driving, the Hummer is a great option. GM says the most improvement in the new model comes inside, where it has been greatly refined to make the vehicle more carlike.

The more-carlike attributes are confined to the interior, though. The outside of the vehicle, including its awesome four-wheel-drive system, has been kept rugged, just the way H2 fans want it.

Power has been increased significantly, however. A new 6.2-liter V-8 engine has replaced the previous model's 6.0-liter V-8, and horsepower has risen to 393 from the previous 325. Even with this boost, though, fuel economy remains the same.

GM does not publish fuel-economy figures for the H2 because its weight - over 6,000 pounds - exempts it from the EPA ratings requirements, at least for now.

But GM's specifications sheet for the 2007 model shows it to have a cruising range of 367 miles and a fuel capacity of 32 gallons, which would mean an average fuel economy of 11.4 miles per gallon.

GM says it will offer a diesel-powered version of the H2 beginning perhaps as early as 2010. That one will offer better fuel economy.

The newest H2 comes in wagon and pickup versions, just as the previous model did. And the vehicles remain on the GMT800 chassis of the previous generation of GM's full-size pickups; it has not been moved to the architecture of the redesigned light-duty pickups, the so-called GMT900 chassis.

Of course, for the H2, that truck chassis was radically altered, including making it wider so it would look like a Hummer.

The extreme width is one of the Hummer's hallmarks, derived from the military Humvees that were the basis for the original civilian Hummer. That model, most lately called the H1, has been discontinued for lack of consumer interest.

The new engine turns out an impressive 415 foot-pounds of torque, up from 375 in the 2007 model. This allows an increase in maximum trailer-towing weight to 8,000 pounds, up from 6,500.

This engine is connected to a new six-speed automatic transmission. "Performance-optimizing engine technologies," including variable valve timing, and the new transmission's gear ratios helped make this model more efficient than its predecessor, GM said.

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