You think your vehicle is tough? This one has been through wars. Derived from a military vehicle that succeeded the traditional army Jeep, Hummer is a high-priced, low-volume sport utility novelty built by AM General, an Indiana company. With a gross vehicle weight well over 8,500 pounds, the Hummer does not have to meet federal safety, emissions or fuel economy standards. Therefore, it does not have airbags.
General Motors has acquired worldwide marketing and distribution rights for the Hummer from AM General, and GM will produce a new Hummer model, dubbed the H2, starting in early 2002.
GM is showing a Hummer H2 concept vehicle at major auto shows this year that is based on GM's full-size pickup trucks and considerably smaller than current Hummers. The H2 will seat five instead of four (as in current Hummers) and will be built at AM General's factory near South Bend, Ind.
The current Hummer, now called the H1, comes in two- and four-door hardtop styling and is also available as a four-door with a folding soft top.
Four seats are spread around the perimeter of the interior of the H1, separated by a massive center tunnel that houses the transmission and drivetrain components. Despite the Hummer's imposing exterior appearance, the interior is cramped. The narrow side and rear windows almost look like gun slits from the driver's seat, indicative of the vehicle's military background. A confusing array of controls and gauges facing the driver mandates thorough study of the owner's manual.
The H1 is about 6 inches shorter than a four-door Ford Explorer but, at 86.5 inches across, more than 16 inches wider, giving it a massive stance on- or off-road. 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. That makes climbing in or out of this vehicle an ungraceful chore. Options include a 12,000-pound winch, tires that can run without air, a tire inflater/deflator operated by interior controls and, as a concession to audiophiles, a premium sound system with a CD changer
Options include a 12,000-pound winch, tires that can run without air, a tire inflator/deflator operated by interior controls handy when you're stuck in soft sand or mud and, in a concession to the audiophile in all of us, a premium sound system with a CD changer. No word on if the CD skips when climbing up the side of a cliff.
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 off-road use. Hummer says this vehicle can climb grades as steep as 60 degrees.
Does anyone short of Rambo really need a vehicle like this? Probably not, which is why most are sold to the very rich as a plaything. For those who want the ultimate in off-road capability, a Hummer is hard to beat.