Driven: 2009 HUMMER H3T

September 18, 2008
It may seem the worst time for GM's HUMMER brand to put out a new vehicle, but the 2009 HUMMER H3T is no woolly mammoth. It is HUMMER's first traditional pickup—meaning it has a four-door crew cab and a separate five-foot bed.

The H3T has a wheelbase that’s some 22 inches longer than the standard H3 SUV. It is not a small vehicle, but compared to today's crop of full-size trucks, the 2009 HUMMER H3T might be what many pickup buyers are looking for. It's shorter than a full-size crew cab pickup by over a foot, and there's not another truck out there with the H3T's trademark styling.

With the exception of the pickup bed, the H3T looks a lot like the H3 SUV, with a highly detailed appearance, including a very imposing, vertically straked grille, a high beltline, and boxy, Tonka-truck proportions. We like the chopped look of the roofline, but those narrow windows do take some getting used to regarding outward visibility. Inside, the 2009 HUMMER H3T shares the same front seats and the instrument panel as the H3 SUV. Neither is as exciting inside as it is outside; the instrument panel styling is remarkably generic, with rounded edges that contrast with the exterior, and doesn’t scream "HUMMER" in any way except for the brand badges.

The rear seat of the H3T is unique to the HUMMER line, but is otherwise standard pickup fare with a three-person bench that folds up to open up floor space for cargo (total seating is for five). The Alpha's accented seat piping adds some visual interest to an otherwise duty-driven interior.

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. Ditto if you define yourself by 0-60-mph times. However, if you're inclined to go off-roading, the brand of performance in the 2009 HUMMER H3T is nothing short of remarkable. As we discovered while rock climbing in Utah, a totally stock HUMMER H3T is capable of conquering trails that would strand, cripple, or tip over virtually any other unmodified four-wheel-drive truck or SUV. The H3T could tackle trails that were once the rarified domain of highly modified buggies, trucks, and SUVs.

However, most drivers don't go off-road, so their predominant experience will be on-road. In this environment, the 2009 HUMMER H3T's standard 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder feels anemic. This engine produces 242 horsepower with either a five-speed manual or an old-school four-speed automatic. That’s plenty for most vehicles its size, but the H3T weighs slightly more than 5,000 pounds. The Alpha-level 5.3-liter V-8 with 300 horsepower is optional. The V-8's 300 horsepower is welcome, but the four-speed automatic (in this age of five-, six-, and seven-speed automatic transmissions) seems like a missed opportunity for a transmission upgrade.

While the above equipment literally makes the H3T a rock star, day-to-day on-road comfort is still worth considering. The shape of the HUMMER H3T doesn't look aerodynamically svelte, but it does slip through, the wind generating very little wind noise that one can hear in the cabin. Additionally, the ride is rather soft, especially on smooth pavement. This means the truck can often deliver a comfortable drive. However, the huge tires dumb down the feel through the rack-and-pinion steering and reduce the truck's cornering ability. has found fit and finish on several test vehicles to be spot on, and even when punishing the truck on tough off-road trails, the body and interior of the HUMMER H3T remain squeak-free.

The 2009 HUMMER H3T has not been crash-tested at the time of this filing, although the H3 SUV has done very well in federal crash tests, where it earned four- and five-star results for frontal impact and five-star ratings for side impact. Regarding safety, the H3T helps drivers avoid potential accidents with standard stability control, anti-lock brakes, and traction control, though as tall as it is, the H3T does have a low three-star rating that indicates a higher-than-normal chance of rollover. Front and two-row head curtain airbags are standard.

When it comes to features, the 2009 HUMMER H3T is a pickup truck first and foremost. This is not intended to be an all-things-to-all-people vehicle. But recognizing that the driving public likes advanced gadgetry, HUMMER takes advantage of its access to the goodies in the vast GM toy box. Various configurations of OnStar are available, as are multiple entertainment systems and a voice-activated navigation system. Bluetooth connectivity to the audio system is standard. Given the H3T's limited outward visibility, the optional rearview camera system is a welcome option.

Behind the cab, the five-foot box incorporates GM's functional bed-rail accessory mounting system, as well as a removable tailgate. The bed in the 2009 HUMMER H3T is plenty big and can easily accommodate an ATV, a PWC, a snowmobile, or a pair of dirt bikes. Electrically locking front and rear differentials are optional, something off-roaders will appreciate.

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