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By Rick Popely
December 1, 1999
Vehicle Overview Indiana-based AM General still builds the military and civilian versions of the Hummer, but General Motors now owns the marketing and distribution rights to this well-known brand and has big plans. Future models will be designed by GM, which plans to sell Hummers through some of its dealers. A new model, the Hummer H2, will debut for 2003 as a smaller, more civilized model based on GMs full-size pickup/SUV design. The H2 will seat five instead of four or two, as the current Hummers do.
With gross vehicle weights well over 8,500 pounds, the current Hummer models do not have to meet federal safety, emissions or fuel economy standards; it does not have airbags.
Exterior The H1 is available as a two- and four-door hardtop, a four-door with a folding soft-top and a four-door wagon with an enclosed cargo area. The other models have an open cargo bed.
With an overall length of 184 inches, the H1 is about 6 inches shorter than a four-door Ford Explorer. But at 86.5 inches across, it is more than 16 inches wider, giving it a massive presence on or offroad. It boasts 16 inches of ground clearance more than twice as much as most SUVs and Hummer says it can run through water as deep as 30 inches.
Interior Four seats are spread around the perimeter of the H1s interior, separated by a massive center tunnel that houses the transmission and drivetrain components. The optional Monsoon sound system is now available on the soft-top model, and all versions get a new instrument-panel cluster.
Under the Hood The lone Hummer engine is a 6.5-liter turbodiesel V-8 with 195 horsepower. Until recently, this engine was built by GM and sold to AM General. However, AM General has bought the rights to build it themselves. The engine teams with a GM four-speed automatic transmission and a permanently engaged 4WD system with a low range and locking differentials for offroad use. Hummer says this vehicle can climb grades as steep as 60 degrees.
Driving Impressions Despite the Hummers imposing exterior, the interior is cramped. The narrow side and rear windows almost look like gun slits from the drivers seat appropriate, given the vehicles military background. A confusing array of controls and gauges spread out in front of the driver mandates a thorough study of the owners manual.
Does anyone short of Rambo really need a Hummer? Probably not, which is why most are sold to the very rich as a plaything. For those who want the ultimate in offroad capability, a Hummer is hard to beat.