- Off-road capabilities
- V-8 over inline-five
- Slow acceleration
- On-road handling compromises
Unless you love the style or genuinely value the off-road capabilities of the 2008 HUMMER H3, it doesn’t realistically make a very good everyday SUV.
HUMMERs used to be big and bad. Remember the awe-inspiring if impractical HUMMER H1? With military heritage and genuinely amazing off-road capabilities, this giant Class 8 truck launched General Motors' HUMMER division. HUMMER has been downsizing ever since. Slotting in under the still huge HUMMER H2, the H3 debuted in 2006. Since then, the 2008 HUMMER H3 finally gains what it's needed: a V-8 engine.
The experts at TheCarConnection.com weren't overly impressed with the first HUMMER H3. With a 3.5-liter inline-five cylinder engine, the 4,700-pound SUV felt completely out of its element on regular roads. It was slow and handled poorly compared to more conventional SUVs.
Things got a little better (very little) when the larger inline-five was introduced. It displaced 3.7 liters and produced 242 horsepower. Those who are good at math will quickly see that the HUMMER H3's power-to-weight ratio with the five-cylinder is still nothing to brag about. Responding to complaints about the H3's lethargic on-road character, HUMMER added a 5.3-liter V-8 to its H3 sport-ute for the 2008 model year. The engine is stuffed into a new model dubbed the H3 Alpha.
The 2008 HUMMER H3 Alpha version--the latest in a series of Alpha models spun off the H2 and H1 utes--spins out 295 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque through a heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. The drivetrain boosts the H3's towing capacity to 6,000 pounds. Editors at TheCarConnection.com have driven both HUMMER H3 models back to back, and they vastly prefer the power of the V-8 (sourced from GM's full-size trucks and SUVs). However, the H3 is still a heavy lump, so even with the V-8, this is not a quick SUV, although now you won't get smoked from a stop sign by a kid on a Big Wheel. A modern six-speed automatic would help matters.
As unhappy as the 2008 HUMMER H3 may be on-road, conversely it is thrilled when taken off-road. There, every detail engineers sweated comes into play as the SUV goes places that only a handful of stock vehicles would ever intentionally venture and expect to return unscathed.
All H3s come standard with an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system sporting traction control, underbody shielding, an optional rear locking differential, and the buyer's choice of two tire packages: Goodyear 32-inch, all-terrain tires or Bridgestone 33-inch off-road tires. All H3s have 9.1 inches of ground clearance, and serious off-road performance is also aided by the maximum approach angle of 40 degrees and maximum departure angle of 37 degrees.
For 2008, safety equipment is upgraded to include side curtain airbags, stability control, and tire pressure monitors. A rearview camera and a navigation system are optional. Rear parking assist and navigation systems are available, as is OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation.