2010 HUMMER H3 SUV Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
February 16, 2010

Even if you crave a red, white, and blue look in an SUV package, think twice before buying the cramped, thirsty HUMMER H3.

The 2010 HUMMER H3 offers impressive off-road capabilities and a tough-truck look.

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 Worse, it's hooked to a four-speed automatic that feels outdated enough to consider the five-speed manual.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.

Review continues below

If you're an average driver who will never set a tire on anything so dirty as dirt, this (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.

Extreme off-duty talent should have taught the cabin a lesson or two, but the tight, confining H3 feels less roomy than other mid-size trucks and SUVs. With a short pickup bed and the same cabin space, the H3T pickup is marginally more useful than the H3 ute-but neither will win awards for packaging, interior room, or comfort. Inside, the front seats are fine, but the cabin feels claustrophobic, thanks to the low roof and the tall dash. The rear bench seat on both models is high, doesn't have much legroom for big adults, and isn't particularly easy to climb into. On the H3 truck, the rear seat folds up to open up floor space for cargo, and in all, the H3 HUMMERs will carry up to five passengers. Cargo space inside the H3 SUV is fine for light duty, but you'll never mistake it for the gargantuan spaces inside GM's own similarly priced GMC Acadia.

It looks safe, and the HUMMER H3 and H3T have proven their mettle in crash tests. The SUV version earns a mix of five and four stars from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for front- and side-impact safety, with three stars for rollover protection; the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has rated the H3 "acceptable" in the past. Each H3 has standard front, side, and curtain airbags; stability control; and four-wheel drive. Don't skip the optional rearview camera and rear parking assist; with all the blind spots it offers, driving an H3 can feel like piloting a tank.

Every HUMMER H3 and H3T comes with power windows, locks, and mirrors; air conditioning; cruise control; an AM/FM/XM/CD player; and Bluetooth. GM offers a navigation system as an option, along with a rear-seat entertainment system, leather trim, and pickup-only features like a bedrail accessory kit. Locking differentials are optional, too, in case your H3 is headed off-road, and HUMMER provides a range of off-road accessories if you're so inclined.

With all the political backwash, a HUMMER's not an easy vehicle to swallow. It's about to get worse: Chinese investors are angling to buy the brand, which will neatly undercut its "buy American!" bona fides. It doesn't matter much, though-there are better choices out there, like the Nissan Xterra and Frontier twins, and even a Jeep Wrangler if you want your jingoism minus the "Mission Accomplished" aftertaste.

8

2010 HUMMER H3 SUV

Styling

The 2010 HUMMER H3 borrows the G.I. Joe chic of the bigger H2, with the same chunky, distinctive style.

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.

Edmunds: "hard to discern" from the bigger H2
Automobile: "You can easily imagine the design stamped across the chest of some caped character with disproportionately large biceps"
Car and Driver: H3T has "visually correct proportions"
ConsumerGuide: "soft-touch surfaces" and "simple white-on-black gauges"
Car and Driver: interior is "cleanly styled"
Motor Trend: "interior design is just about the best on a GM truck in a long time"

Review continues below
7

2010 HUMMER H3 SUV

Performance

There's no reason to avoid the big V-8 in the 2010 HUMMER H3; plan on spending time off-road to enjoy it to its fullest, but don't count out a decent highway ride.

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"

Review continues below
7

2010 HUMMER H3 SUV

Comfort & Quality

The interior's not as conventionally roomy as other mid-size SUVs, but the 2010 HUMMER H3 has a fair amount of cargo space.

Extreme off-duty talent should have taught the cabin a lesson or two, but the tight, confining H3 feels less roomy than other mid-size trucks and SUVs. With a short pickup bed and the same cabin space, the H3T pickup is marginally more useful than the H3 ute-but neither will win awards for packaging, interior room, or comfort. Inside, the front seats are fine, but the cabin feels claustrophobic, thanks to the low roof and the tall dash. The rear bench seat on both models is high, doesn't have much legroom for big adults, and isn't particularly easy to climb into. On the H3 truck, the rear seat folds up to open up floor space for cargo, and in all, the H3 HUMMERs will carry up to five passengers. Cargo space inside the H3 SUV is fine for light duty, but you'll never mistake it for the gargantuan spaces inside GM's own similarly priced GMC Acadia.

MyRide.com: "decent overall room"
Edmunds: "rear-seat passengers enjoy ample legroom and decent support, but taller folks may find themselves uncomfortably close to the roof"
ConsumerGuide: "large rubber-floored cargo area" is "usefully shaped"
Car and Driver: "Offers versatility on par with its mid-size crew-cab competitors"
Edmunds: competitors "typically offer six-foot boxes as well"
Cars.com: "tiny door pockets, and small center console"
Motor Trend: "Seating materials feel durable"
Cars.com: "The backs of the rear seats are finished in hard plastic, which should make it easy to slide cargo on them, but also makes them easier to scratch."
ConsumerGuide: "Generally little highway wind noise"
Jalopnik: "enormous dimensions for relatively little storage space"
Edmunds: "build quality is solid, but the H3T's competitors utilize nicer materials"

Review continues below
8

2010 HUMMER H3 SUV

Safety

Good crash-test scores and features make the 2010 HUMMER H3 a strong safety performer.

It looks safe, and the HUMMER H3 and H3T have picked up some strong safety scores. The SUV version earns a mix of five and four stars from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for front- and side-impact safety, with three stars for rollover protection; the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has rated the H3 "acceptable" in the past. Each H3 has standard front, side, and curtain airbags; stability control; and four-wheel drive. Don't skip the optional rearview camera and rear parking assist; with all the blind spots it offers, driving an H3 can feel like piloting a tank.

Edmunds: Standard "antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, the OnStar communications system and full-length side curtain airbags"
Autoblog: H3T has "Hill Start Assist, Traction Control, [and] Electronic Stability Control"
Car and Driver: hill-start assist "holds the brakes for two seconds after pedal release"
Cars.com: "OnStar comes standard with one year's worth of safety and security service"
ConsumerGuide: "Aft visibility is compromised by thick roof pillars and narrow glass openings"
Edmunds: "lousy outward visibility"
ConsumerGuide: "hatch-mounted spare tire...blocks much of the rear window"
Automobile: "back-up camera display screen, which hides within the rear view mirror housing, and automatically slides out into view when summoned"

Review continues below
8

2010 HUMMER H3 SUV

Features

You'll find the usual array of GM niceties in the 2010 HUMMER H3 -- plus a range of off-road accessories for the trail-riding types.

Every HUMMER H3 and H3T comes with power windows, locks, and mirrors; air conditioning; cruise control; an AM/FM/XM/CD player; and Bluetooth. GM offers a navigation system as an option, along with a rear-seat entertainment system, leather trim, and pickup-only features like a bedrail accessory kit. Locking differentials are optional, too, in case your H3 is headed off-road, and HUMMER provides a range of off-road accessories if you're so inclined.

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, or even a Jeep Wrangler if you want your jingoism minus the "Mission Accomplished" aftertaste.

Edmunds: Standard features include "alloy wheels, full skid plates, air-conditioning, cruise control, OnStar telematics, keyless entry, full power accessories and a six-speaker CD stereo with satellite radio"
ConsumerGuide: "Available items include lockable and removable bed-mounted storage boxes"
Edmunds: "Major options for both include a power sunroof, an in-dash six-CD changer"
ConsumerGuide: optional navigation system has "fussy buttons"
Car and Driver: "a kazillion accessories...will allow lots of different drawers, cages, and enclosures to be attached to the bed or the roof"

Review continues below
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