2009 Hummer H3T
|The Good: |
– Tough-guy image
– Decent off-road ability
– Loads of cargo space
|The Bad: |
– Engine power
– Fuel economy
– Size in the city
Hummer is the most easily recognisable brand in the 4×4 world. Even a person who knows absolutely nothing about cars can spot a Hummer from a mile away, no matter which model it might be. Even my mother can spot a Hummer. And the all-new Hummer H3T, even with its pickup styling, continues that enviable persona.
The H3T came about from the need of dirt-bikers to transport their quad-runners to desert locations, or that’s what is inferred in publicity photos anyway. In reality, it is just an H3 with the rear end chopped off and replaced with a proper cargo bed. This is no faux cutaway job like the H2 SUT. The H3T is a real-deal pickup truck.
In terms of looks, there isn’t much to report, considering everyone has already seen the H3 all over city streets. We noticed that the bonnet “vents” don’t really have any holes, that you can fix your hair using the 16-inch mirror-chrome alloy wheels, and that our tester did not have a bed cover, leaving that massive cargo area exposed to the elements.
Unlike most H3 wagons, our H3T tester also did not have any side-steps, which made stepping onto the truck a pain for midgets like us. The cabin is familiar H3 territory, with shiny hard plastics all over and a general sense of cheapness, broken only by swaths of leather on the seats and doors. Seats are wide and mildly bolstered, with electric controls for the front ones. Legroom and headroom are decent, both front and rear, although the rear seatback is a bit too upright. Various small storage cubbies can be found in the cabin, although the real space is all outside, in the king-size plastic-lined truck bed that can hold enough furniture to fill a studio flat. The bed itself can likely be fitted with a cover, and there are even little storage boxes within the bed walls. Climbing onto the bed is another hassle, as it was at about chest-level for us. Back in the cabin, exposed cup-holders can be found, two up front, and two moulded into the rear-seat bottom, so the rear centre-seat passenger will have to hold drinks between his legs.
Gadgetry-wise, there is a fair amount, with power windows, electric mirrors, front-side airbags, keyless entry, stability control, decent CD stereo with average bass, and a reversing camera with a monitor within the rear-view mirror. The knob-based a/c is simple, but did the job fine in February afternoons. While all this is available, there is no trip computer, the radio antenna is non-retractable, and the fuel-filler cap does not have a lock.
The engine is the same old underachieving 3.7-litre inline-5, rated at 239 hp at 5800 rpm and 328 Nm of torque at 4600 rpm. Mated to a basic 4-speed automatic, it is a slow vehicle, but it actually felt quicker than the H3, which we assume is due to the cooler February weather. We even got a 0-to-100 kph time of 11.2 seconds, which isn’t too embarrassing, although our estimated fuel consumption was at 22.4 litres per 100 km, which isn’t something to brag about.
Lumbering around town, it felt awkward being seen in a pickup truck, while wearing suits on our way to business meetings. All-round visibility is poor, with cars disappearing behind, invisible in the mirrors. The steering is feather-light, but it was hell parallel-parking this thing in smaller-than-average spaces at crowded areas, as the reverse camera has a fish-eye view and there are no beeping parking sensors of any kind. Eventually, bystanders started directing us into parking spots, and we told them it wasn’t our car as we thanked them.
The Hummer H3T seems to have less body roll than the standard H3. This could be due to stiffer suspension tuning for the heavy-duty truck. The rear rides on truck-like leaf-spring suspension, making its cargo-hauling capabilities obvious. But this also has the unintended side-effect of causing worse ride quality than the H3 wagon. It feels jittery on even the slightest of imperfections, exaggerated by the light rear-end when the cargo bay is empty. Wind and road noise also increases exponentially after 100 kph, and becoming excessive by 120 kph.
There is only the slightest of feedback from the light steering wheel, and the turning circle is huge, making us second-guess whether we’ll make it through certain U-turns. The disc brakes aren’t the strongest in the business either, and the ABS comes on rather early under moderate braking force.
Interestingly, the H3T did rather well off-road in the desert. It comes with automatic all-wheel-drive, with button-operated controls to lock the system in 4WD mode as well as switch to a low-range setting. After we let air out of the beefy 265/75 tyres and turned off stability control, the H3T conquered moderate dunes. The lack of side-steps wasn’t missed here, as the increased ground clearance is commendable. It cannot do everything that more popular 4x4s from Toyota and Nissan can do though. The noisy engine was stressed most of the time, as we had to stay at high revs to keep moving on slopes. And the long-wheelbase underbelly touched the ground on pointy peaks and cliffs, although metal underbody skid-plates and short bumpers meant there weren’t any real issues. We never did get stuck, although an amateurish colleague of ours took the truck for a day and promptly returned the next morning with a flat tyre on a damaged rim. We can’t fault the H3T for something we didn’t see happen, and it came with a full-size spare anyway.
The Hummer H3T can do what it is advertised as being able to do. It can carry your bikes into the desert so you can have some real fun. However, it is advisable you also pick up an Aveo or something when you buy your truck, as you’ll need the smaller car around town. No one is going to appreciate you holding up city traffic with your five-point U-turns.