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 Worse, it's hooked to a four-speed automatic that feels outdated enough to consider the five-speed manual.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.
If you're an average driver who will never set a tire on anything so dirty as dirt, this HUMMER (or any HUMMER) is not for you. On-road feel is vague and disconnected, and the big tires dull any sensations from the tires through corners, though it rides fairly softly and fairly well. The H3 excels at off-roading, thanks to an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system with off-road-tuned 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 plenty of ground clearance, as well as tight approach and departure angles for maximum rock-crawling capability.
Automobile: "barely adequate inline five-cylinder engine"
Car and Driver: "Lackadaisical thrust"
Car and Driver: V-8 "brings acceleration into the acceptable realm"
Motor Trend: "The four-wheel-drive system itself is full-time...but is able to send as much as 100 percent of available torque to the front or rear wheels when needed"
Cars.com: "Competitive fuel economy"
Automobile: V-8's extra "comes with only a 1 mpg penalty"
Edmunds: "smooth ride on pavement"
ConsumerGuide: "reasonably agile with no excessive body lead in turns"
Automobile: "off-road, it really shines"
Autoblog: "has plenty of power to get up and over rocks"
Car and Driver: "unbelievable crawl ratio...makes it remarkably tough to stall"