2008 HUMMER H2 Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 29, 2008

The 2008 HUMMER H2 is more about image than about driving, but if you can swing the gas bills, do lots of off-roading, and don't mind the stigma (in some circles) of driving one, it's a singular choice.

The editors at TheCarConnection.com researched Web road tests of the 2008 HUMMER H2 and have brought you the consensus of those opinions in this review. TheCarConnection.com’s editors also have driven the HUMMER H2 extensively and have added their driving impressions and product knowledge here to help you arrive at the best buying decision, especially where other reviews have conflicting opinions.

The 2008 HUMMER H2 is a compelling case study in the auto industry. It based its reputation on military vehicles and was launched just before the start of the war in Iraq. It also was launched before gas prices reached their current heights. Because of the war and gas prices, the HUMMER H2 has gone from a patriotic symbol to a symbol of excess--completely separate from its performance as a hardcore sport-utility vehicle.

The HUMMER H2 full-size SUV shares platforms and powertrains with the Chevrolet Suburban. New this year is an upgraded V-8 engine. The 6.2-liter eight-cylinder is rated at 393 horsepower and gets teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission; together, they help the H2 and the SUT pickup version boost their towing capacity up to 8,200 pounds. It helps the H2 reduce its acceleration, but there's nothing quick about the big HUMMER (the military-grade H1 HUMMER is long gone from the market). GM's six-speed transmissions are among the best in the truck market, and this one's no exception.

The H2 drives all four wheels via a rugged full-time four-wheel-drive system. Low-range gearing and a locking rear differential are included across the line for off-road enthusiasts, and an air suspension is available to smooth the ride over both back roads and highways. TheCarConnection.com's off-road experiences in HUMMER H2s have ranged from the slick rock of Moab to the mud of northern Michigan--without a single instance of getting stuck.

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The H2 SUT version has a midgate/bed system similar to the Chevy Avalanche full-size pickup for carrying cargo, as well as features such as power windows that can all be lowered at once, along with a standard sunroof. The pickup bed is barely useful enough to carry mulch home from the depot, but an available hard tonneau cover means it's not a total loss for luggage space.

Not that you'd want to drive the HUMMER H2 on a long road trip. Even with the brand-new interior featuring a redesigned dash, new squared-off seats, a third-row seat for two people, and features like a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, the H2 is cramped, and the effective use of space takes a backseat to the styling. A rear HVAC system is now standard, as is a Bose surround-sound system.

Because it's a large truck, the HUMMER H2's fuel economy does not have to be reported to the EPA. In our extensive driving of previous H2s, TheCarConnection.com's editors observed 10-12 mpg in highway driving. Likewise, the HUMMER H2 has not been crash tested by either the government or by the private Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for the 2008 model year.

The strangest consequence of owning a HUMMER H2 is being the target of insults from green-minded drivers who object to its fuel economy and from drivers of a different political persuasion. No vehicle sold in this country relies so heavily on image and attracts so much attention because of it.

8

2008 HUMMER H2

Styling

A welcome boost of interior luxury has the 2008 HUMMER H2 hitting the off-road trails in style.

It's hard not to notice the radical styling of the 2008 HUMMER H2, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com found plenty to like in this hulking vehicle.

For the most part, reviewers find the 2008 HUMMER H2 to be a refreshing mix of the original H1's commando charm and traditional luxury SUVs—and in the case of the 2008 HUMMER H2 SUT, a short-bed pickup truck. Kelley Blue Book enjoys the fact that the "doors are neatly flush with the rest of the body panels," but also admires rugged touches such as "exposed latches, lift handles and fasteners." Car and Driver agrees, stating that the H2 is "still dominated by big, simple shapes, which lend it a rugged appearance, but the materials have a quality look."

The 2008 HUMMER H2 was designed to mimic military vehicles, and to encounter some serious off-road terrain. Automobile.com brags about the "extremely short front and rear overhangs, which make for radical breakover and departure angles."

A less-than-luxurious interior has been a complaint about past models of the H2 HUMMER; 2008’s massive overhaul of the interior has quieted these concerns. Edmunds describes it as "more upscale with better fit and finish." Popular Mechanics is even more impressed, stating that the "seats are better, the door panels are better, the third-row rear seat has been revised, and every piece seems to fit together more precisely and cleanly."

While reviewers agree the 2008 HUMMER H2 looks great, the styling does diminish functionality. Edmunds complains of "poor outward visibility" due to the roof pillars. For the H2 SUT, ForbesAuto docks points for a short pickup bed that "tends to limit its use as a cargo hauler."

5

2008 HUMMER H2

Performance

The 2008 HUMMER H2 performs adequately on the roads and impressively off the beaten path, but abysmal gas mileage and scale-tipping weight drag down the overall performance.

TheCarConnection.com found plenty of praise for the beefed-up 2008 HUMMER H2 engine, but the same old gas-guzzling complaints remain.

The 2008 HUMMER H2 full-size SUV shares platforms and powertrains with the Chevrolet Suburban. New this year is an upgraded V-8 engine. The 6.2-liter eight-cylinder is rated at 393 hp and gets teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission; together, they help the H2 and the SUT pickup version boost their towing capacity up to 8,200 pounds. It helps the H2 reduce its acceleration, but there's nothing quick about the big H2 HUMMER (the military-grade H1 HUMMER is long gone from the market). GM's six-speed transmissions are among the best in the truck market, and this one's no exception.

On the means streets of suburbia, the 2008 HUMMER H2 receives adequate praise. Car and Driver touts the six-speed automatic transmission in the HUMMER; 2008’s upgrade allows it to "zip in and out of strip-mall battlegrounds." ConsumerGuide marvels at the hefty vehicle's speed, mentioning that "acceleration is fairly brisk around town and strong at highway speeds." As Kelley Blue Book notes, this is largely due to the "20-percent increase in horsepower over the old 6.0-liter unit."

Despite these facts, Edmunds concedes that "the 2008 HUMMER H2 is not exactly a prime choice for around-town errands." This is based largely on the laughable fuel economy. Cars.com mentions that as a "Class 3 truck, the H2 is not required to carry an EPA fuel economy rating." However, MyRide.com estimates 11.5 mpg, leading them to the conclusion that the H2 HUMMER "might be happier in a pen than a garage."

When taken off-road, the 2008 HUMMER H2 really shines. In fact, Edmunds calls the H2 HUMMER's off-road performance "easily best-in-class, with lots of ground clearance, radical approach and departure angles, generous wheel articulation and ample tire grip." Not surprisingly, the 2008 HUMMER H2 is also capable of enormous towing loads. Maximum capacity is 8,200 pounds, which Automobile.com lists as "1,500 pounds more than" previous H2 models.

The H2 HUMMER drives all four wheels via a rugged full-time four-wheel-drive system. Low-range gearing and a locking rear differential are included across the line for off-road enthusiasts, and an air suspension is available to smooth the ride over both back roads and highways. TheCarConnection.com's off-road experiences in H2 HUMMERs have ranged from the slick rock of Moab to the mud of northern Michigan--without a single instance of getting stuck.

7

2008 HUMMER H2

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 HUMMER H2 has a better-quality interior, but passenger room is still at a premium.

With a completely upgraded interior, the 2008 HUMMER H2 is finally worthy of its lofty price tag, according to reviews read by TheCarConnection.com.

You wouldn’t want to drive the 2008 HUMMER H2 on a long road trip, though. Even with the brand-new interior featuring a redesigned dash, new squared-off seats, a third-row seat for two people, and features like a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, the H2 is cramped, and the effective use of space takes a backseat to the styling.

Automobile.com fixates on the high-quality materials found throughout, noting that the "majority of surfaces not covered in leather are high-grade pliable plastic." Cars.com agrees, stating that in "addition to its more sensible, refined shapes, the dashboard features glowing blue gauges and trim that's among the best faux-metal finishes on the market."

As far as comfort goes, Car and Driver mentions that "the front seats are comfortably reshaped for 2008." That's all well and good for the driver, but Kelley Blue Book brings bad news for passengers with the statement that "the interior of the H2 is snug in the areas of rear-seat legroom and cargo space." A third-row seat has been wedged into the H2 HUMMER for the first time, but it’s a tiny one, and it’s difficult to reach.

Minor quibbles were also raised about the wind noise and cabin height of the 2008 HUMMER H2. ConsumerGuide observes that "there's marked wind noise above 65 mph," but on the plus side "engine noise is well muffled." Car and Driver mentions that "even the gangliest of staffers had a hard time getting into and out of the truck," but this can be mitigated with optional running boards.

8

2008 HUMMER H2

Safety

The 2008 HUMMER H2 is a tank, and the plethora of safety features protects you like one.

Though crash test ratings are unavailable for the 2008 HUMMER H2, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com were generally pleased with the safety features offered.

Numerous safety features come standard on the 2008 HUMMER H2. Automobile.com touts the traction control's "ability to grip at only one corner at a time" and the "electronic stability control with rollover mitigation." MyRide.com lists other standard safety features, including anti-lock brakes, driver and passenger airbags, and daytime running lights.

Cars.com is put at ease by the standard side curtain airbags "that deploy downward along the side windows for all three rows of seats" and automatically "deploy if a rollover is sensed." Edmunds notes that "front-row safety belt pre-tensioners" and "OnStar emergency communications system" complete the impressive mixture of standard safety features.

In terms of off-road safety, Automobile.com points drivers to the H2 HUMMER braking system that can "detect and make adjustments for off-road situations where loose surfaces would otherwise throw it off its game."

While all these safety features protect you in the event of an accident, the issue of visibility from the driver's seat of the 2008 HUMMER H2 is one that may result in accidents. As mentioned previously, Forbes Auto scolds the H2 HUMMER for minuscule windows that "significantly impair outward visibility."

9

2008 HUMMER H2

Features

The 2008 HUMMER H2 offers a dizzying array of options for drivers to customize their vehicle, but a couple expected options are surprisingly absent.

Reviewers were salivating over the comprehensive list of feature packages available on the 2008 HUMMER H2.

Kelley Blue Book lists an impressive amount of notable standard equipment available on the H2 HUMMER. Their list includes full-time four-wheel drive, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, locking rear axle, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), engine oil cooler, rear defroster, 33-gallon fuel tank, illuminated entry, power windows, power locks, and XM Satellite Radio. A rear HVAC system is now standard, as is a Bose surround-sound system.

There are a seemingly endless number of optional features available for the H2 HUMMER. Standard packages include the $1,555 H2 Adventure package, which includes a "first aid kit, tool kit w/portable lamp, rubber floormats, roof rack, brush guard, air-inflater kit, (and) load-leveling air suspension," according to ConsumerGuide.

Another standout is the H2 Luxury Package, which Edmunds describes as the "boulevardier of the lineup," listing the included features as "polished aluminum wheels, a chrome appearance package, brushed-aluminum roof rack, tubular side steps, rearview camera system, a sunroof, a folding two-passenger third-row seat, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a premium MP3-compatible Bose surround-sound audio system."

Edmunds also notes that most features "are also available as stand-alone options."

Automobile.com suggests upgrading to the air suspension in the H2 HUMMER because "the ride is noticeably better." Car and Driver calls the rearview camera a "must-have." In comparison to other luxury vehicles, ForbesAuto bemoans the fact that "you won't find high-end SUV items like power-retractable side steps or ventilated seats on the options list."

The H2 HUMMER truck has a midgate/bed system similar to the Chevy Avalanche full-size pickup for carrying cargo, as well as features such as power windows that can all be lowered at once, along with a standard sunroof. The pickup bed is barely useful enough to carry mulch home from the depot, but an available hard tonneau cover means it's not a total loss for luggage space.

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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 8.0
Performance 5.0
Comfort & Quality 7.0
Safety 8.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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