2009 HUMMER H2 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
March 15, 2009

If you’re a serious off-roader, the 2009 HUMMER H2 is the perfect vehicle. If you’re not, the HUMMER is nothing more than an expensive, gas-guzzling fashion statement—or an image liability.

TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new HUMMER H2 in order to give you an expert opinion. Also, TheCarConnection.com researched available road tests relevant to the 2009 HUMMER H2 to produce a comprehensive review that should be especially helpful to SUV shoppers.

The HUMMER has softened from its original role as a military vehicle to the current H2 version (the military-grade H1 HUMMER is long gone from the market), but with three production-class wins at the Baja 1000 with only minor differences separating the racing vehicles from models found in HUMMER dealerships, the 2009 HUMMER H2 maintains its position as the most hard-core off-roader atop SUV mountain. However, the HUMMER’s image of excessiveness combined with the uncertainty surrounding gas prices, as well as our economic slump, has put the future of HUMMER on shaky ground.

The 2009 HUMMER H2 relies so heavily on image and attracts so much attention that it has become the target of aspersion from green-minded drivers who object to its fuel economy to drivers of a different political persuasion—both of which are certainly dissuading many consumers from considering the HUMMER H2 as viable transportation.

For 2009, GM is looking for whatever advantage will help lure consumers nervous about a shaky economy into HUMMER dealerships. One thing it found and quickly implemented was FlexFuel capability into the 2009 HUMMER’s 6.2-liter V-8; the H2 won’t get any better mileage, but it will burn a blend of up to 85 percent ethanol, if it’s available where you live.

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The 393-horsepower V-8 is mated to GM’s 6L80 Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic transmission, and it provides smooth and surprisingly responsive—though not quick—performance. Because it's a large truck, the HUMMER H2's fuel economy does not have to be reported to the EPA, but in our extensive driving of previous H2s, TheCarConnection.com's editors have observed 10-12 mpg in highway driving and 8-9 mpg in the city. The engine/transmission combination puts the towing capacity of the 2009 H2 and the SUT in the neighborhood of 8,200 pounds.

TheCarConnection.com's off-road experiences in HUMMER H2s have ranged from the slick rock of Moab to the mud of northern Michigan—without a single instance of getting stuck. The 2009 HUMMER H2 drives all four wheels via a rugged full-time four-wheel-drive 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. Handling is a bright spot; the big H2 is surprisingly well planted in cornering and doesn’t respond negatively to abrupt changes in direction, within reason.

Further changes to the 2009 HUMMER H2 are aimed at increasing comfort and convenience and include features such as available second-row captain's chairs, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a heated, power-tilting steering wheel, XM Satellite Radio with NavTraffic real-time traffic advisement, OnStar Destination Download, and third-row seat storage that frees up more storage space in the H2 SUV’s interior. Not that you'd want to drive the HUMMER H2 on a long road trip—the H2's interior is cramped, and the effective use of space takes a backseat to the styling. A rear HVAC system is now standard, as is a Bose surround-sound system.

Like the Chevy Avalanche, the H2 SUT version has a midgate/bed system for carrying cargo.  The pickup bed is barely large enough to carry mulch home from the depot, but an available hard tonneau cover means it's not a total loss for luggage space.

The 2009 HUMMER H2 has not been crash-tested by either the government or by the private Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

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2009 HUMMER H2

Styling

The iconic 2009 HUMMER H2 still represents the ultimate in luxury off-road performance.
 

TheCarConnection.com’s editors find plenty of reviewers who like the hulking 2009 HUMMER H2 and its radical styling.

The 2009 HUMMER H2 was designed to mimic military vehicles, which explains its less-than-luxurious interior. Edmunds describes it as "more upscale with better fit and finish." Popular Mechanics is even more impressed, stating that the "seats are better, the door panels are better, the third-row rear seat has been revised, and every piece seems to fit together more precisely and cleanly." In terms of encountering serious off-road terrain, Automobile.com brags about the "extremely short front and rear overhangs, which make for radical breakover and departure angles."

In general, reviewers find the 2009 HUMMER H2 to be a refreshing mix of the original H1's commando charm and traditional luxury SUVs. Kelley Blue Book enjoys the fact that the "doors are neatly flush with the rest of the body panels," but also admires rugged touches such as "exposed latches, lift handles and fasteners." Car and Driver agrees, stating that the H2 is "still dominated by big, simple shapes, which lend it a rugged appearance, but the materials have a quality look."

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5

2009 HUMMER H2

Performance

The 2009 HUMMER H2 performs adequately on the roads and impressively off the beaten path, but abysmal gas mileage and scale-tipping weight drag down its usefulness.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com confirm that the 2009 HUMMER H2 is still the best off-road SUV money can buy, and although the engine provides plenty of oomph, the same old gas-guzzling complaints remain.

TheCarConnection.com's off-road experiences in H2 HUMMERs have ranged from the slick rock of Moab to the mud of northern Michigan, and because the 2009 HUMMER drives all four wheels via a rugged full-time 4WD system, it went without a single instance of getting stuck. The 2009 HUMMER H2 really shines when taken off-road. In fact, Edmunds calls the H2 HUMMER's off-road performance "easily best-in-class, with lots of ground clearance, radical approach and departure angles, generous wheel articulation and ample tire grip." 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.

Not surprisingly, the 2009 HUMMER H2 is also capable of enormous towing loads. Maximum capacity is now 8,200 pounds.

On suburban blacktop, the 2009 HUMMER H2 can’t match its off-road capabilities, but it still receives adequate praise. Car and Driver touts the six-speed automatic transmission in the HUMMER; 2009’s upgrade allows it to "zip in and out of strip-mall battlegrounds." ConsumerGuide marvels at the hefty vehicle's speed, mentioning that "acceleration is fairly brisk around town and strong at highway speeds." As Kelley Blue Book notes, this is largely due to the "20-percent increase in horsepower over the old 6.0-liter unit."

Because of the laughable fuel economy, "The 2009 HUMMER H2 is not exactly a prime choice for around-town errands," concedes Edmunds. Cars.com remarks that as a "Class 3 truck, the H2 is not required to carry an EPA fuel economy rating." However, MyRide.com estimates 11.5 mpg, leading them to conclude that the H2 HUMMER "might be happier in a pen than a garage."

The 2009 HUMMER H2 shares its 393-horsepower 6.2-liter eight-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission with the Chevrolet Suburban, but there's nothing quick about the big H2 HUMMER.

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2009 HUMMER H2

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 HUMMER H2 still suffers from a lack of interior space and a noisy cabin.

The addition of second-row captain's chairs, a heated, power-tilting steering wheel, and OnStar Destination Download combined with last year’s upgraded interior elevates the comfort and convenience of the 2009 HUMMER H2 to a level worthy of its retail price.

Even with the recently redesigned interior, however, you wouldn’t want to drive the 2009 HUMMER H2 on a long road trip—the H2's interior is cramped, and the effective use of space takes a backseat to the styling. A rear HVAC system is now standard, as is a Bose surround-sound system. The H2’s cabin also features a recently redesigned dash, squared-off seats, a third-row seat for two people, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Cars.com says that in "addition to its more sensible, refined shapes, the dashboard features glowing blue gauges and trim that's among the best faux-metal finishes on the market."

The front seats are what Car and Driver appreciates, saying that "the front seats were comfortably reshaped for 2008." That's all well and good for the driver, but Kelley Blue Book brings bad news for passengers, stating that "the interior of the H2 is snug in the areas of rear-seat legroom and cargo space." A third-row seat has been wedged into the H2 HUMMER for the first time, but it’s tiny and difficult to reach.

Car and Driver mentions that "even the gangliest of staffers had a hard time getting into and out of the truck," but this can be mitigated with optional running boards. More minor complaints are raised about the wind noise and cabin height of the 2009 HUMMER H2. ConsumerGuide observes that "there's marked wind noise above 65 mph," but on the plus side, "engine noise is well muffled."

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2009 HUMMER H2

Safety

The 2009 HUMMER H2 is a veritable rolling fortress accentuated with numerous safety features.

Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have conducted tests on the 2009 HUMMER H2, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com experts gave positive feedback generally to the variety of standard safety features offered.

MyRide.com points out the H2’s standard anti-lock brakes, driver and passenger airbags, and daytime running lights. Edmunds notes that "front-row safety belt pre-tensioners" and "OnStar emergency communications system" complete the impressive mixture of standard safety features. Cars.com is put at ease by the standard side curtain airbags "that deploy downward along the side windows for all three rows of seats" and automatically "deploy if a rollover is sensed."

Driver’s-seat visibility is the biggest fault of the 2009 HUMMER H2, marring an otherwise safe vehicle. ForbesAutos scolds the H2 HUMMER for minuscule windows that "significantly impair outward visibility."

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2009 HUMMER H2

Features

There are some options missing for the 2009 HUMMER H2, but they may go unnoticed due to the copious amount of features.

Most reviewers contend that the 2009 Hummer H2 isn’t very functional, a result of all the compromises for styling. Edmunds complains of "poor outward visibility" due to the roof pillars. For the H2 SUT, ForbesAutos docks points for a short pickup bed that "tends to limit its use as a cargo hauler."

Like the Chevy Avalanche, the H2 SUT version has a midgate/bed system for carrying cargo, as well as features such as power windows that can all be lowered at once, along with a standard sunroof. The pickup bed, however, is barely large enough to carry mulch home from the depot, but an available hard tonneau cover means it's not a total loss for luggage space.

The list of feature packages available on the HUMMER H2 is impressive, but for 2009 the must-have HUMMER, in terms of look-at-me amenities, has to be the Black Chrome edition. Only 1,300 will be offered worldwide and are recognizable by the use of black chrome items, including 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, grille, hood latches and handles, fuel filler door, door handles, mirror caps, “H2” badges, and side air vents. The three new exterior colors available with the Black Chrome edition are Silver Ice Metallic, Sedona Metallic, and Carbon Black Metallic.

According to ConsumerGuide, the almost endless number of optional features available for the 2009 H2 HUMMER begins with the $1,555 H2 Adventure package, which includes a "first aid kit, tool kit w/portable lamp, rubber floormats, roof rack, brush guard, air-inflater kit, (and) load-leveling air suspension," Kelley Blue Book’s list of impressive standard equipment available on the H2 HUMMER includes full-time four-wheel drive, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, locking rear axle, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), engine oil cooler, rear defroster, 33-gallon fuel tank, illuminated entry, power windows, power locks, and XM Satellite Radio. A rear HVAC system is now standard, as is a Bose surround-sound system.

Edmunds describes the H2 Luxury Package as the "boulevardier of the lineup" and lists the included features as "polished aluminum wheels, a chrome appearance package, brushed-aluminum roof rack, tubular side steps, rearview camera system, a sunroof, a folding two-passenger third-row seat, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and a premium MP3-compatible Bose surround-sound audio system." Most features "are also available as stand-alone options,” notes Edmunds

In comparison to other luxury vehicles, ForbesAuto bemoans the fact that "you won't find high-end SUV items like power-retractable side steps or ventilated seats on the options list."

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