The biggest military-derived HUMMER SUV gets a makeover for 2006 and is rechristened the H1 Alpha. Cosmetic revisions to what is already the most intimidating vehicle on the road include a restyled brush guard, new wheels, and a freshened interior with new aniline leather seats, revised controls, and more luxurious materials. General Motors’ new 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V-8 engine generates 300 horsepower, which is 46 percent more powerful than last year’s 6.5-liter version. It’s mated to a more durable Allison five-speed automatic transmission that features a Tow/Haul mode to adjust shift patterns for optimal performance when the vehicle is towing or carrying heavy loads. An Off-Road Adventure Package features a 12,000-pound winch kit, wheel and tire upgrades, and front and rear Eaton locking differentials. Activated instantly at the push of a button, the differentials enhance the H1 Alpha’s already stellar abilities at climbing over large rocks or up long, steep grades at slow speeds. It’s as expensive to own as it is to buy, thanks to single-digit fuel economy.
2006 HUMMER H1 Alpha by John Pearley Huffman (5/9/2005)
Authenticity through ability.
HUMMER’s H2 full-size SUV shares platforms and powertrains with the Chevrolet Suburban but offers its own military-inspired styling. An SUT version debuted last year that combines aspects of a sport-utility vehicle and a pickup truck. It’s derived from the Chevrolet Avalanche, and shares that vehicle’s “midgate” configuration that allows it to convert from what amounts to a full-size SUV with a large enclosed trunk to a pickup truck with a short bed. All models come powered by a thirsty 6.0-liter V-8 engine that’s rated at 325 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque, and drives all four wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission and rugged full-time 4WD 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. For 2006, H2 adds a special edition with a Pacific Blue exterior, carbon fiber interior accents, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
Essentially a smaller, more tractable, and less-expensive version of the HUMMER H2, the mid-size HUMMER H3 debuts for 2006 and is based on the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups. While the five-passenger H3 adopts the brand’s classic militaristic styling, but is about 17 inches shorter in length, 6.5 inches narrower and half a foot shorter than an H2. As a result, it’s the most agile HUMMER in the line, but is still able to scramble over virtually anything in its path via a choice of two four-wheel-drive systems, each of which are supplemented by both traction and stability control, a locking rear differential and oversized wheels and tires. Unfortunately, the only available powerplant is a 3.5-liter five-cylinder engine that provides a barely sufficient 220 horsepower. Still, the H3 is the first HUMMER to offer a manual transmission for ultimate off-road control. It’s also the first HUMMER to achieve noteworthy fuel economy, achieving around 20 miles per gallon on the highway.
2006 HUMMER H3 by Marty Padgett (7/11/2005)
A rock climber with the right genes.