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The 2010 HUMMER H3 offers impressive off-road capabilities and a tough-truck look.
- All-American styling
- Totally owns off-roading
- Alpha dog's V-8
- Hazy brand future
- Slow, no matter what
- Handles on road like an off-roader
- What, a four-speed automatic?
- Rear visibility is lousy
HUMMER's a flashpoint for controversy. It's a brand so reviled by tree huggers, its dealerships have been firebombed. Of course, that's a badge of honor to its die-hard fans, who'll gladly give up their HUMMERs-and you can pry them from their cold, dead hands. The partisanship blurs the big issue with the small HUMMERs. Even if you're politically inclined to love them, the H3 pickup and SUV just aren't good enough at their everyday missions to recommend them over more useful utility vehicles like the Nissan Frontier and Xterra, our favorites in this class.
At their best standing still, the HUMMER H3 and H3T are the picture of unadulterated swagger. They have less in common with the Schwarzenegger-style H1 military vehicle than they do with GM's own Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon trucklets, but they ape the look so well, you might confuse them for the larger H2. The windows are slits, the fenders have blocky protrusions that will make Transformers turn to steroids in jealousy, and the big seven-bar grille remains a huge reminder to Jeep that it shares some history with the estranged GM brand. There's just nothing else out there that looks like a HUMMER, and in its carefully constructed butch-patriotic frame, it looks swell. Inside there's less of the rugged individualism to go around. The instrument panel styling is remarkably generic, with rounded edges that contrast with the exterior. It doesn't scream "HUMMER" in any way except for the badges.
It's the same story on the road. HUMMER gives the H3 anemic performance in base versions. The nearly 5,000-pound H3 struggles with a base 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder engine that has only 239 horsepower. Worse, it's hooked to a four-speed automatic that feels outdated enough to consider the five-speed manual. The manly option is the Alpha edition; its 300-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 and four-speed automatic have more on-road authority. Fuel economy with either drivetrain is terrible, at 14/18 mpg for the five-cylinder and 13/16 mpg for V-8s, but the V-8 will tow 6,000 pounds.