ironic that the first US pickup since 1986 with a seven-slot grille
wears a Hummer badge instead of a Jeep logo (technically, the Jeep
Comanche, produced from 1986-1992, had an eight-bar opening, and the
Brute pickup from American Expedition Vehicles is an aftermarket conversion).
after Jeep teased us for years with prototype pickups. The 2003 Scrambler
Concept was slated for production but never arrived. The brilliant
concept, shown at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show, remains in
cold storage. And last year the Wrangler JT Concept was baptized during
the 2007 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah but you’ll only be
able to drive one if you enlist in the Egyptian
even exist as a brand when you could buy a Jeep CJ-8 twenty-two years
ago. But Hummer has reinvented the segment for a modestly sized, immensely
capable off road pickup and jumped in with all four wheels by introducing
the new 2009 Hummer H3T. And to kick some sand in Jeep’s headlights,
us to drive it in Moab the week before this year’s Easter Jeep Safari.
picked one of the most popular and challenging trails in Utah for us
to put the H3T through its paces, "Hell's Revenge".
Many of the 4x4s tackling its slickrock paths are customized with 35-inch
to 37-inch maximum traction tires, high-end suspensions and roll
cages. But the fully loaded pre-production H3T Alpha we're driving
is only equipped with factory kit.
5.3-liter V8 puts out 300-horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque.
The optional Adventure Package adds 33-inch BF Goodrich MT (Mud Terrain)
tires, extra low range gearing optimized for rock crawling and electronically
locking front and rear differentials. The pickup is also equipped with
Hummer's optional 16-inch bead lock wheels that clamp the BFG rubber
in place as we lower tire pressure to about 20-psi, for extra grip.
traversed Hell's Revenge, the opening ascent is sobering.
It's not so much a hill but what frequent off-roadies call a 'fin' – a
single-lane landscape feature with steep drops on either side. Conveniently,
twin lines of black rubber are etched in the sandstone from tire wear.
The rubber expertly marks the optimal line up and over the fin.
red rock surface that looks smooth from a distance surprisingly has the
texture of sandpaper – very
good for traction. We've
been in parking garages with half the frictional coefficient of Moab's
grainy paths. Yet, it's testament to the extreme driveline stresses
the H3T will experience throughout the day when we already see recent-laid
drops of transmission fluid or oil on the trail from an earlier
off-road vehicle. By the time the day is over we’ll see two four
wheelers disabled on the trail.
call it rock crawling for nothing. We’re only doing
a few miles per hour over the tough terrain, to keep driveline stress and
truck bounce to a minimum.
into 4-Lo in tricky sections of the trail because we’re prioritizing
torque over fuel economy, to pull us out of any challenges. The H3T's
first gear ratio is 3.06 and its low-range gear reduction is 4:1. Multiplying
first gear times low-range times a 4.10 rear axle gives us a 50:1 crawl
ratio – meaning
that in 4-Lo the H3T's axles are turning 50 times slower than the engine’s
RPM. Think about that if we’re only doing 2-to 3-mph! It's
an astounding 70:1 if you have a 5-speed manual 5-cylinder H3T. And while
all that mechanical torque management is going on, the H3T’s engine
computer constantly adjusts the truck's throttle response based on
speed and gear to prevent lurching and driveline stress.
the transfer case in 4-Lo, often shifting the 4-speed automatic transmission
between D1 and D2, and occasionally D3, depending on the trail’s difficulty