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Expert Reviews 1 of 14
By Joe Wiesenfelder
January 1, 2003
When General Motors announced in January 2000 that it would engineer and market a smaller version of the original Hummer H1, detractors lined up to pontificate about how the company might screw up the product and possibly the brand. Hummer, the name given to the civilian version of the military Humvee when it debuted in 1991, had come to stand for unmatched offroad ability, on-road presence and general audacity. With a sticker price close to $100,000, the H1 also stood for success and/or celebrity. GM bought the name and the marketing rights at the end of 1999 from the H1's developer, AM General, which still manufactures and owns that model. AM General consulted with GM on the 2003 Hummer H2 and assembles it exclusively in a brand-new plant in Mishawaka, Ind., but GM owns this model and treats "Hummer" as a marque like Chevrolet or Cadillac.
It was at the H2's national media introduction, which started in Chicago and ended at AM General's test facility in South Bend, Ind., where I and a handful of other journalists tested GM's claim that the H2 is a more refined Hummer with the heart of the original. I'm sure it's with glee or trepidation — and possibly both — that GM bashers, H1 devotees and other know-it-alls anticipate the bad news, the inevitable rapsheet of GM's transgressions. I'm sorry to disappoint you all, but on the road to Screwupsville, the Hummer folks took a detour. They didn't screw up — not the truck, not the brand, not anything, really. Exterior & Styling The notion that the H2 would be nothing but a rebadged Chevrolet Tahoe now seems preposterous. No one who looks at the H2 — from the outside, at least — thinks Tahoe, or even GM. They think Hummer.
With the Chevy Tahoe's platform as a starting point, the GM team engineered a sport utility vehicle that is, as the Hummer tag line says, "like nothing else." It looks like the H1, in part because it follows the H1's go-anywhere design philosophy. Rewind to the year 1999, when AM General and GM engineers met in Kentucky and took some of the existing GM and Hummer fleet off-roading to see what they had to work with. After a couple of days, said Ken Lindensmith, the H2's assistant vehicle line executive, "Our trucks had gone just about everywhere the H1 did." The difference, he said, is that the H1s looked as good as new, while the GM full-size SUVs and pickups each had sustained hundreds of dollars in body damage.
The team's first step was to extend the H2's wheelbase and make its overhangs — the distance between the wheels and bumpers — as short as practicality allowed. This gives the H2 higher approach and departure angles for tackling steep inclines. Large tires also were a necessity, so the standard all-season tire, designed for the H2 by BFGoodrich, is 35 inches in diameter and mounted to a 17-inch forged-aluminum rim. An optional offroad tire is the same size, LT315/70R17 (tire codes). Both feature three-layer sidewalls and an overlapped bead to maintain a seal even under intense conditions at low inflation pressures.
The H1's near indestructibility comes from its high ground clearance and the fact that its guts are tucked up above the frame rails and well protected by skid guards. The same now is true of the H2. Guards include a front skid plate embossed with the H2 logo, an intermediate tubular-steel cage similar to that offered on the H1, a transfer-case skid plate and a thick plastic fuel-tank shield. Bolt-on heavy-gauge tubular steel protects the rocker panels.
Beyond the functional elements, the H2's squared-off corners, vertical liftgate and nearly vertical windshield are pure Hummer. Familiar latches on the side fenders are for real; they help secure the hood, which opens forward as on the H1. The square humps at the rear corners of the hood recall the H1's high-mounted air cleaner, but they serve no function here. The grille and hooks atop the H2's hood don't ventilate an auxiliary radiator or allow the vehicle to be airdropped via parachute, respectively, as they do on the H1, but the hooks serve as handles that ease the process of opening the fiberglass hood.
What was originally conceived as a smaller Hummer is really just a narrower Hummer, as reflected in the table below, which compares the H2 to the H1 and the Tahoe. The H2 is more than 5 inches longer than the H1 but more than 7 inches shorter than the Tahoe. It's more than 5 inches narrower than the H1, yet more than 2 inches wider than the Tahoe — just wide enough that the marker lights atop its roof are required by law. Note that the H2 is several inches taller than the other two SUVs. In the H1, much of the drivetrain — one of the tucked-up elements mentioned earlier — is tucked well into the cabin where it leaves surprisingly little space for occupants. This wasn't an option in the H2, so the cabin is elevated above the components. This and the high ground clearance make for one tall truck.
Hummer H1 Wagon
Chevrolet Tahoe LS 4x4
Track (front/rear, in.)
Base Curb Weight (lbs.)
Minimum Ground Clearance (in.)
Approach Angle (degrees)
Departure Angle (degrees)
38.1 - 41.8**
Breakover Angle (degrees)
Maximum Grade (percent)
Maximum Side Slope (percent)
Maximum Water Fording Depth (@ 5 mph, in.)
Turning Diameter (curb-to-curb, ft.)
*Coil springs; 78.5 inches with air springs **Air springs include selectable ride height that increases the departure angle NR = not rated Manufacturer data
The table also shows some of the H2's offroading specs and capabilities, which are surprisingly close to those of the H1. It can handle a 60 percent grade and a 40 percent side slope, and fords water up to 20 inches at 5 mph or less. The H1, with its greater ground clearance, high-mounted air intake and diesel engine, can go 10 inches deeper. Its front tires are almost in line with the bumper, so the H1's approach angle is more than 30 degrees greater. Though the H1 has a remarkably tight turning diameter, the H2's is on the wider side — more than the Tahoe, which has a shorter wheelbase. Ride & Handling The H2's chassis is a Frankenstein's monster of GM's large truck platforms, with a frame that combines a front section from the three-quarter-ton 2500 series, a custom fully boxed middle section and a 1500-series rear section selected to accommodate a five-link coil spring suspension and then fortified for a higher gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). (The 2500-series rear end uses leaf springs.) The standard front setup is an independent suspension with torsion bars, where the rear axle is solid.
The Adventure Series springs package includes air springs, front and rear. Air springs are like thick-walled inner tubes or tires that take the place of steel springs. An onboard compressor keeps the bladders pressurized and can be called upon to raise the rear end 2 inches at the touch of a dashboard button for greater body ground clearance; a higher, 40.0-degree departure angle; and close to an additional inch of suspension travel. This feature is available only when the transfer case is in low gear. At 20 mph or higher, the body lowers to its original height. The system also provides automatic leveling to compensate for heavy loads. Suspension travel is 8.7 inches in front and 10.3 inches in back.
The vehicles I drove, off-road and on, featured the air suspension, so my comments apply only to H2s with this equipment. Hummer started our drive in Chicago to show the luxury and metropolitan side of the H2's personality, or "DNA," which is the industry's cliché du jour. (I'm pretty sure the only thing in an H2 that has DNA is the optional leather.) On the road, the H2 offers the pleasant ride quality we've come to expect from GM's full-size trucks — a far cry from the H1. There's moderate body roll. Hummer uses stabilizer bars, front and rear, but it's tough to control lean in a vehicle designed for long suspension travel and competent offroad performance. Despite the roll, the truck never feels tipsy because of its considerable width. Its dimensions do make it feel different than the average SUV. The 2 inches of width over the Tahoe isn't much, but one sits so high in the H2 that the overall feeling is of greater bulk. At a base curb weight of 6,400 pounds — close to that of the H1 — the H2 is no flyweight.
Even equipped with the offroad tires, the H2 exhibited admirably low road noise. There's some wind noise from its boxy shape and dreadful aerodynamics. (You might as well strap a drivetrain to your garage and drive the whole thing around.) But it's not an objectionable amount of noise, especially in this class of vehicle. The H1 may have some wind noise problems, but I was never able to hear them over the din of the drivetrain. The H2, on the other hand, produces the dull roar at mid-throttle heard on other GM trucks that employ this engine — nothing outrageous or objectionable. The most you hear at cruising speed is some exhaust noise. Going & Stopping The engine in question is the Vortec 6000, GM's 6.0-liter gasoline V-8, which graces the 2500-series trucks as well as the Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon Denali. In the H2, it produces a slightly lower 316 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 360 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm, and it mates to GM's heavy-duty four-speed-automatic transmission. Hummer says the drivetrain is good for 0-to-60-mph sprints of about 10 seconds — adequate for this type of vehicle. More important is its torque characteristics off-road.
The cutting-edge, full-time four-wheel-drive driveline starts off where some competitors stop — with full-time four-wheel drive and ABS-based four-wheel traction control. In this system, an optional center differential in the transfer case splits torque 40/60 between the front and rear axles in normal driving. If you lose traction at any corner, with a wheel on ice, gravel or raised in the air, as was the case on the "frame twister" portion of AM General's test facility, the Bosch traction control is always online to apply antilock braking to a spinning wheel or wheels, which directs torque to the wheels that have traction. To clarify, I call it four-wheel traction control because it operates on all four, not two, as is the case with some vehicles. When Hummer calls it single-wheel traction control, it means the same thing — that the system works even if only one wheel has traction.
For the kind of gusto that can come only from a hard, mechanical connection, the BorgWarner transfer case can be set to lock the center differential, which divides torque evenly front to rear — a mode called 4 HI Locked. The next setting, 4 LO Locked, introduces the transfer case's 2.64-to-1 low gear for a final "crawl" ratio of 33.1-to-1. These two Locked settings rely on the traction control to transfer torque between the left and right wheels, but another button activates a new electronically controlled Eaton rear differential that instantly locks the left and right halves of the rear axle for a 50/50 left/right torque split.
Where the H2 breaks new ground is the way its subsystems communicate with each other. As we've learned with the cars.com Web site, networking different resources brings results that are greater than the sum of the parts. All of the H2's components are important, but when they're tied together electronically to affect each other's operation, you find yourself in a new world of off-roading. For example, the electronic traction control is "aware" of all the transfer case and rear differential modes, and it adjusts its operation accordingly. In the mode with the center and rear differentials locked, it acts only on the front wheels.
The engine's throttle is another example. When the driveline is in the LO mode, the electronically controlled "drive-by-wire" throttle automatically activates what Hummer calls a low-range progression. Because there is no mechanical link between the accelerator pedal and the throttle, the computer can correlate different actions to a given change in accelerator position. When in this low-range mode, the accelerator pedal has a more gradual effect, and flooring it opens the throttle only 75 percent of the way. It gives finer control over engine speed, which I appreciated when crawling over rocks, logs and other obstacles. It requires finesse to summon enough power to drive a wheel up and onto an obstacle without overshooting it and grinding the undercarriage — a skill that's tough to master with a regular throttle progression, especially as you're being tossed about in the cabin. This feature may be the most significant advancement on the H2. Virtually all uses of throttle-by-wire to date have been little more than a curiosity. This is a terrific application for it.
The AM General grounds included an infield course with the aforementioned frame twister, steep grades to show off the approach and departure angles, embedded logs, a 20-inch-deep pool and some splendid rock piles. On one segment, one front and both rear wheels of my H2 came to rest on metal rollers that grant absolutely no traction. I gave the H2 some gas, and the wheels spun momentarily before the traction control kicked in and directed torque to the single wheel on terra firma. Despite being on a slight incline, that one wheel pulled me up and out.
With the academics out of the way, our H2 caravans hit the ditches, moguls, swollen streams and mud in the wooded portion of AM General's 300-plus-acre facility. I ran most of the trails in 4 LO Locked. I experimented with the rear differential lock, too, but it was mostly unnecessary because the traction control is so darn good. Jeff Maes, H2 product manager, described how Bosch engineers spent days on the same trails, tweaking the traction control algorithms with a laptop computer to dial it in just right.
Bosch says this system's algorithms are far more sophisticated than previous generations' and are capable of analyzing wheel rotation, intuiting what kind of surface the vehicle is on — sand, snow, gravel, etc. — and modifying the traction control and antilock braking to suit. It helps that the computer can pattern the action based on the transfer-case mode. Otherwise, the intervention would be too abrupt in some situations and too slow in others.
If all that weren't enough, the system includes a separate, selectable traction control mode called TC2 that makes adjustments for loose surfaces, allowing some wheelspin to help the vehicle attain speed. Conventional algorithms attack wheelspin so unflaggingly that all four wheels tend to take turns slipping and halting and you end up grunting along rather slowly — something I experienced in two different rear-wheel-drive cars this winter after a heavy snowfall. On the other hand, with no traction control at all, it's easy for one spinning wheel to rob all your power. Bosch says TC2 falls somewhere in between; it enables "paddling," in which the tires are spinning and throwing sand, but at least the H2 is moving and torque is shared among the wheels.
I don't feel that I was able to give TC2 a fair test because sand was absent from our test course, and the TC1 mode and various differential locks did fine in the mud. I did find that TC2 is excellent for coating the windshield of the journalist behind you with mud. You gotta love that feature.
Another feature I love is the Hydroboost power brakes, which also come on 2500-series GM trucks and the Escalade. This system uses hydraulic rather than vacuum power assist, and I've always liked its effectiveness and pedal feel. The brakes did the trick on the road, and I especially appreciated them when I tackled "the guardrail" — a steep incline comprised of sizable rocks down which I eased the H2. This task was all about braking. Naturally, ABS is standard, and it incorporates electronic brake-force distribution.
Again, I missed having a sand pit to play in because Bosch claims the new-generation ABS is as smart as the traction control — able to detect different surfaces and optimize the antilock action for the best performance. ABS is almost always effective on any vehicle, but it can actually extend stopping distances on surfaces like loose sand or snow. Designed to prevent wheel lockup, conventional ABS may allow the wheel to continue rolling over a loose surface when it would be more effective to lock at least somewhat and dig down, a claimed feature of the H2's system. The Inside Climbing into the H2 is just that — a climb — but once again, smart design has prevailed. The optional tubular steps actually come down low enough for shorter folks to step on. Too often, truck manufacturers put their steps too high in an attempt to maximize ground clearance. For the H2, Hummer went with a heavy-gauge step rail that attaches to the standard rocker panel guards by means of eight bolts. The few people who really go off-road can remove and reinstall them without too much hassle. Among a host of dealer-option accessories are "U-steps," which are even simpler to install and remove. A set of studs and one bolt secure this fixture to the rocker protection. The bolt has a handle, so no tools are needed.
"Grab" handles on each A- and B-pillar, above the glove compartment and above all but the driver's door also aid ingress. The interior design falls somewhere between that of the H1 and a near-luxury vehicle, and is the H2 aspect with which people are most likely to find fault. (The grumbling had already started among the journalists present.) Leather upholstery is not standard, as is expected in a vehicle of this price, and there are none of the surfaces that, outdated or not, represent luxury to the American buyer. Don't get me wrong: I think the H2 gives you plenty of other goods for the money, and it is definitely an aspirational vehicle, but interiors are what establish luxury, and I have a hard time seeing the H2 as a luxury vehicle from the inside.
I'm not exactly out on a limb here. Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman, has acknowledged in the trades that the company has to improve the perception of quality in its vehicle interiors; he's assigned designer Anne Asensio the role of executive director for quality and brand character. Hired away from Renault, Asensio will put her European sensibilities to work on vehicles in development and production, with an eye toward materials, textures and overall design. No one would say if the base H2 interior would change, but Hummer General Manager Mike DiGiovanni suggested that an upgrade is likely in the form of an upscale option package or trim level.
Ritziness aside, the interior is highly functional, anchored by a gear selector patterned after an airplane throttle lever. Power front seats are standard. At 6 feet tall, I found more headroom than the prototype I experienced in December led me to expect. Even with the seat cushion fully raised and the optional moonroof, which typically decreases headroom, I had room to spare. The seat's height adjustment and fore/aft travel are adequate for shorter drivers, but adjustable pedals would be a wise addition, and I'd like to see Hummer add telescoping action to the standard tilt steering wheel. Both features help drivers get comfortable and distance themselves properly from the airbag.
Drivers of all sizes found forward visibility to be good, thanks to the high vantage point and wide windshield. But no one of any size could praise visibility all around. An optional "wraparound" brush guard that extends higher and wider than the single-tube option is visible over the hood and helps to visualize where the front corners are, but the H2's height, high windows and spare tire make for a lot of guesswork in all directions. These trucks defied physics all day on the test course, but if parallel parking were one of the challenges, I think I would have seen fear in people's eyes. Hummer doesn't offer sonar park assist or a rearview camera.
The H2's standard second-row seat accommodates three passengers and is a 60/40-split, folding design. Legroom is so-so. With the front seat adjusted fully back, my knees were just touching its backrest. This seat is slightly higher than the front row, so I could see over the head restraints to the road ahead. The backrest is a little overstuffed, in my opinion, and an angle adjustment would be a good addition. A wide, flip-down armrest is standard. There are three-point shoulder belts and head restraints for the outboard occupants but only a lap belt for the center seat.
A single sixth seat is an option that's available after purchase as well as during ordering. It flips, folds and comes out pretty easily, and it includes its own three-point belt and head restraint. It's a one-seater because the full-size spare tire takes up the rest of the cargo area. The seat's biggest liability is its scarce legroom, with 11.3 inches less than the second row.
The H2's safety features include front airbags and — though I hate to encourage this line of thought — its considerable mass. The H2 is high and heavy, but I don't think that justifies the lack of side-impact airbags. An electronic stability system also might be worth offering. Hummer includes an airbag deactivation switch for the front passenger's frontal-impact airbag, a feature that's not required in a five-seater.
In the random gripes department, I have two issues: The LED icon indicating that the air conditioning is off looks an awful lot like the icon in most vehicles that shows the A/C is on. Also, aside from the mild wind noise and atrocious aerodynamics, I implicate the near-vertical windshield in exterminating a stunning number and variety of insects between Chicago and South Bend — definitely more than I would expect from more raked glass. No species was safe from the hurtling brick on wheels. Orkin would be a natural H2 sponsor, I tell you. With all the brilliant engineering on the H2 and other modern vehicles, you'd think someone would have come up with washer/wipers that handle this menace better. Your only option may be to find another H2 you can follow. Cargo & Towing As mentioned, the H2's large tires suddenly look immense when you put one of these 98-pounders in the cargo area as a spare. DiGiovanni said Hummer is developing a carrier for the back of the vehicle, but taillight-visibility requirements are slowing the process. Run-flat tires, which are an option on the H1, are another possible solution, but they, too, will take time, considering that BFGoodrich had to custom design the current tires for the H2.
For its exterior presence, the H2's maximum cargo capacity is modest at 86.6 cubic feet. For comparison, the Escalade and Tahoe top out at 104.6 cubic feet. A five-seat Ford Explorer has 88.0 cubic feet of cargo volume. An external mounting solution for the spare tire would increase the H2's cargo capacity.
The H2's GVWR is 8,600 pounds, which is well above that of the 1500-series Tahoe and Escalade (6,900 and 7,000 pounds, respectively, for 4WD versions). Its payload is 2,200 pounds vs. 1,672 pounds for the base Tahoe 4WD. The H2 can tow up to 7,000 pounds — not so much, considering the Tahoe is good for 8,100 pounds and the Escalade 8,200 pounds. The Explorer 4WD tops out at 7,000 pounds. Here, the H2 is not unlike the H1, which has a modest towing ability of 7,646 pounds, in spite of its 3,146-pound payload capacity.
The H2 has a trailer hitch receiver and recovery hooks on the front and rear bumpers, and the transmission has a tow/haul mode, which raises the rpm at which upshifts occur. Features Standard features not already mentioned include front and rear trailer-hitch receivers; a Bose stereo; remote keyless entry; cruise control; steering-wheel controls for the stereo, ventilation and trip computer; the OnStar satellite/cellular help system; and dual-zone climate controls.
There are two option packages. The Lux Series ($2,575) adds an in-dash six-CD changer; leather seats with seat heaters; a chrome appearance package, with chrome door handles, side mirrors and other items; the tubular assist steps; and custom carpet floormats. The Adventure Series ($2,215) includes the air suspension, a grille brush guard, first-aid kit, tool kit, portable lamp, in-dash six-CD changer, crossbars to complete the roof rack and custom carpet floormats.
Pricing is not available as of this writing, but stand-alone options include:
a grille brush guard
roof- or grille-guard-mounted offroad lights
Hummer-branded taillight guards a hard roof-top cargo carrier
Additional dealer-installed options developed by or licensed to Hummer include:
a Warn-brand 9,000-pound-capacity winch
Alcoa chromed-aluminum wheels
two types of roof-top bike racks
hard and soft roof-top cargo containers
a canoe rack
"mudder" seat covers and floormats to protect the interior
a portable freezer
a portable DVD player-in-a-bag with a 15-inch LCD screen that straps to the front seats
a lockable cargo vault
magnetic bodyside protectors
two types of hitch steps
a Hummer Tactical Mountain Bike — a version of a Montague bike used by the U.S. Marines, with a target price between $600 and $800
One feature that's not likely to make the jump from the H1 to the H2 is the Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS), which allows H1 drivers to deflate and inflate the front and/or rear tires via switches on the dashboard. DiGiovanni said the technology would add thousands of dollars in cost and a lot of weight, which wouldn't be worthwhile for the low percentage of people who go off-road and deflate their tires. (Hummer predicts that H2 buyers will go off-roading at twice the percentage rate of the average SUV buyer, but this still amounts to just 10 percent.) Instead, DiGiovanni said, the optional air suspension's compressor can add 20 psi to any tire within five minutes by means of a supplied hose. Hummer in the Market Who is the Hummer buyer? Traditionally, 80 percent of H1 buyers have been males with an approximate average age of 40 to 45 and an average income of $150,000. The H2 is meant to be more accessible. It better be, because the H2 plant has an annual capacity of 40,000 units. The H1 attracts fewer than 1,000 buyers a year.
Marc Hernandez, Hummer marketing manager, said the Hummer brand appeals especially to two groups of people: "rugged individualists" and "successful achievers." Rugged individualists are the types who go rock climbing, mountain biking and engage in other extreme to semi-extreme activities. Successful achievers include anyone who's been successful in business or in life. Both types tend to think of themselves as daring or risk takers, Hernandez said.
DiGiovanni said there's no direct competitor to the H2, but he suspects it will attract consumers who shop for the Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus LX 470, Toyota Land Cruiser and Lincoln Navigator. He hopes also to pull some buyers away from BMW and Mercedes-Benz SUVs and from luxury cars.
The H2 goes on sale in July through 155 dealers. Hernandez said there will ultimately be 200 outlets in 180 mostly affluent markets. Hummer chose the dealers from among the top-performing 2 to 3 percent of GM dealers, as gauged by profitability, customer satisfaction and other criteria. An independent auditor scanned all candidates. Some are Oldsmobile dealers, but Hernandez said they received no special treatment. As it turns out, Cadillac dealers run 60 to 70 percent of the current Hummer outlets, all of which eventually will be stand-alone stores with a dramatic steel-beam H for an entrance.
Hummer requires all dealers to construct a distinctive structure and a test course similar to the "infield" at AM General's South Bend facility, though they have until 2004 to do so. Jeep has learned through its traveling "Jeep 101" events that showing its buyers what their vehicles can do breeds appreciation and loyalty — even if they never go off-roading again. Hummer is betting on this experience as the ultimate closing tool for retail sales.
I think it's a brilliant plan. The SUV market is founded on image and the belief that "you could if you chose to." Hummer dealers will illustrate to prospects exactly what they could do if they chose to. In my day of testing, the H2 proved a worthy addition to the Hummer family, never really breaking a sweat. It reminded me of the Porsche Carrera 4, which is so refined, it makes you think you're a much better driver than you are. None of the H2 vehicles sustained any damage, and no one, to my knowledge, got stuck. It was almost boring. Hummer claims the H2 can do 90 percent of what the H1 can, limited mainly by its lesser approach angle and water-fording capacity. The H2 can do some things that the H1 can't — accommodate more than four people and cruise with less than 80 decibels of background noise, among them. With its narrower dimensions, it can even go some places the H1 can't. It is definitely more technologically advanced and well rounded — some would say better, overall, than the H1.
The H2 is not perfect, though. Good as its execution may be, its genre has many critics. The H2's GVWR is high enough that its fuel economy is not EPA regulated. Hummer claims fuel economy of around 12 mpg in mixed driving. After my trip from Chicago to South Bend and back — most of it highway driving — the trip computer read 11.4 mpg average.
The H2 qualifies as a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV), which is good, but you have to remember that the standards relax as the weight class increases. At 8,600 pounds GVWR, the H2 pollutes more than a truck of less than 8,500 pounds GVWR rated LEV, more still than a truck of less than 5,750 pounds GVWR rated LEV, and far more than a car rated LEV.
With its more efficient diesel engine, the H1 has a slightly higher average fuel economy rating, but its exhaust is dramatically dirtier than the H2's, at least as our country's regulators see things.
So did GM get it right? Is the H2 a real Hummer? Will it be a success? Many things in my day of testing say yes. One was its offroad performance. Another was the reaction I got from other motorists — especially a man in an Isuzu Rodeo on Interstate 94 who actually put down his cellular phone to give me an enthusiastic thumbs up. The third reason is me. Though I love technology, I'm about as practical and image-unconscious as anyone you'll find. More than a decade into it, I remain baffled by the SUV craze. At the end of my day with the H2, I recognized that it represented much of what's been wrong with the SUV category: It's not space efficient, it's not at all environmentally conscious and it's all kinds of overkill. So why do I like it so much? In time, I recognized this feeling. I'd had it once before. It was after I tested the H1. Is the H2 a real Hummer? Yeah, it's a real Hummer.