2009 Hummer H3

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Key Specs
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Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2009 Hummer H3. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
    Sport Utility
  • Combined MPG:
    14-16 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    239-hp, 3.7-liter I-5 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    4x4
  • Seating:
    5 Seats
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Interior quality
  • Styling
  • Offroad capability
  • 37-foot turning circle
  • Optional backup camera

The Bad

  • Structure lacks rigidity
  • Modest acceleration (base engine)
  • Fuel economy
  • Rear visibility

Notable Features of the 2009 Hummer H3

  • New H3T pickup truck for 2009
  • Inline-five-cylinder or V-8
  • Manual or automatic
  • Side curtain airbags
  • Standard stability system

2009 Hummer H3 Road Test

Mike Hanley
Editor's note: This review was written in September 2007 about the 2008 Hummer H3. Little of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2009, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

Ever since it debuted for the 2006 model year, Hummer's H3 has been one of the toughest-looking SUVs around, while its engine offerings have been comparatively puny. That changes with the debut of the new H3 Alpha, which gives the midsize SUV V-8 power for the first time. Already a competent off-roader, the thirsty V-8 transforms the H3 into a truck that's much easier to live with in urban and suburban jungles, which many H3s call home.

Alpha Male Styling
The H3 exudes toughness to the point of being almost ridiculous, what with its bulging fenders, short side windows and massive tires. Toyota's FJ Cruiser is another radically styled SUV like the H3, but it doesn't have the hard-edged look the Hummer manages to pull off.

Alpha models include a Chrome Appearance package that consists of chrome door handles and mirrors, as well as 16-inch chrome wheels and a badge on the swing gate. All in all, it's a subtle change from the regular H3, which is surprising because Hummer doesn't normally do subtle; just look at its product lineup.

Alpha = Acceleration
While the Alpha doesn't look much different from the regular H3, what's under the hood sets it apart from its siblings. The base H3 is powered ...

Editor's note: This review was written in September 2007 about the 2008 Hummer H3. Little of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2009, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

Ever since it debuted for the 2006 model year, Hummer's H3 has been one of the toughest-looking SUVs around, while its engine offerings have been comparatively puny. That changes with the debut of the new H3 Alpha, which gives the midsize SUV V-8 power for the first time. Already a competent off-roader, the thirsty V-8 transforms the H3 into a truck that's much easier to live with in urban and suburban jungles, which many H3s call home.

Alpha Male Styling
The H3 exudes toughness to the point of being almost ridiculous, what with its bulging fenders, short side windows and massive tires. Toyota's FJ Cruiser is another radically styled SUV like the H3, but it doesn't have the hard-edged look the Hummer manages to pull off.

Alpha models include a Chrome Appearance package that consists of chrome door handles and mirrors, as well as 16-inch chrome wheels and a badge on the swing gate. All in all, it's a subtle change from the regular H3, which is surprising because Hummer doesn't normally do subtle; just look at its product lineup.

Alpha = Acceleration
While the Alpha doesn't look much different from the regular H3, what's under the hood sets it apart from its siblings. The base H3 is powered by a 242-horsepower, 3.7-liter inline-five-cylinder engine that makes 242 pounds-feet of torque, while the Alpha's 5.3-liter V-8 generates 300 hp and 320 pounds-feet of torque. Hummer says the Alpha can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in about 8 seconds, which isn't bad when you consider the SUV's near 5,000-pound curb weight. The V-8 gets an EPA-estimated 13/16 mpg (city/highway); in comparison, the inline-five with the automatic transmission gets 14/18 mpg.

The Alpha feels relatively light on its feet in city traffic, with the V-8 producing strong acceleration. Teamed with a four-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain will quickly kick down when additional power is needed for highway passing.

While it's rather loud inside the H3, I'm not ready to write this off as a negative, because I can see some Alpha buyers really enjoying the V-8 rumble that invades the cabin when accelerating mildly, not to mention the roar that accompanies full-throttle acceleration. Less appealing is the significant amount of wind noise at 70 mph on the highway.

Ride & Handling
While the H3 attracts buyers for various reasons, like styling and offroad credentials (which include the ability to drive through a 2-foot-deep stream and scale a 16-inch ledge), its ride and handling probably isn't one of them. Potential buyers need to realize that they're getting a real truck in the H3, not one of the new breed of crossover SUVs that ride and handle more like a car.

In city and suburban settings, the H3 bounds over rough patches of road with exaggerated body motions that lead to quite a bit of rocking back and forth and side to side. The H3's structure isn't the most solid, either; it shakes at bumps and holes in the road that other SUVs have little trouble dispatching.

Even though the H3 is Hummer's smallest model, it's by no means tiny. It feels big when you're driving it, and sizing up how close you are to other cars and obstacles is more difficult in the H3 than in many other vehicles, even full-size SUVs. You end up driving it gingerly in congested areas.

Hummer says the 2008 H3's steering system has been upgraded for improved on-center feel and offroad reliability. The system's modest power assistance gives the steering wheel just enough heft, which feels appropriate for this vehicle, and the H3 responds readily to turns of the wheel.

The Inside
Subtle changes to the Alpha cabin include special emblems on the steering wheel and front-seat head restraints. Other than that, the interior is much like the regular H3's, again continuing the subtle theme seen on the outside of the SUV. The optional leather front bucket seats are comfortable and feature partial power operation (the backrest angle is manually adjustable). The tall seating position means forward views aren't obstructed by most passenger vehicles, which somewhat makes up for the climb required to get into the driver's seat.

The thick-rimmed steering wheel and beefy gear selector fall nicely to hand, and while the switches for the power windows and locks look dated, most of the cabin's trim pieces have a nice appearance. The optional front moonroof is among the largest I've seen.

One of the biggest problems with the H3 is its limited side and rear visibility. This is partly due to the SUV's short windows, which sometimes makes changing lanes — and other maneuvers that require looking somewhere other than straight ahead — a faith-based experience. The newly optional backup camera helps in this regard, but it only works when the H3's transmission is in Reverse.

The 60/40-split backseat provides decent room for adults. The seats don't offer as much adjustability as some other SUVs (they don't slide forward and back, or recline), and folding the backrests down is a multi-step process that involves repositioning the seat cushions forward and down to the floor, then folding the backrests. This isn't especially tedious to do, but the bigger issue is that you don't get a nice, flat extended cargo floor when you're done; the backrests still angle upward somewhat.

Safety
The 2008 H3 now has standard side curtain airbags to protect front and backseat occupants. Also standard are antilock brakes and an electronic stability system.

Cargo & Towing
The 29.5-cubic-foot cargo area behind the H3's rear seats is slightly bigger than the FJ Cruiser's. Folding the backseat provides a maximum of 55.7 cubic feet of space, which falls well short of the FJ Cruiser's 66.8 cubic feet. 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.

In addition to the improved driving performance, the Alpha's V-8 engine is a boon for towing. Regular H3s with the 3.7-liter inline-five-cylinder are rated to tow up to 4,500 pounds, but the Alpha can pull a hefty 6,000 pounds when properly equipped.

H3 Alpha in the Market
It's a bit ironic that Hummer's fuel-conscious model now has a V-8 engine option that drinks more gas than a Chevrolet Suburban. While that's sure to rile environmentalists, a V-8 is exactly what the heavy H3 has needed all along in order to make it better suited to everyday driving.

That extra dose of performance comes at a monetary price in addition to an environmental one, as the Alpha starts at nearly $40,000. While you also get some additional amenities with the engine upgrade, that heady sum is more a reflection of the premium position Hummer enjoys in the market. And it gets away with it; despite styling-induced visibility problems and unrefined ride quality, Hummer shouldn't have much difficulty moving the Alpha off the lot.

Send Mike an email 



Latest 2009 H3 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Hummer is a great vehicle

by Cindyjo from Jacksonville Fl on October 3, 2018

Love a Hummer. Great for towing and comfortably seating 5 people in an H3. Feel safe with all the extras... great SUV to take you hunting but still great for travel. Read full review

(3.0)

Screwed up security electronics

by Jim Rawlins from Baton Rouge LA on August 3, 2018

Really like my Hummer with the exception of several problems. Had a belated recall on wiring harness in GM mechanics did everything including replacing complete A/C system and still didn?t correct ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2009 Hummer H3 currently has 2 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2009 Hummer H3 has not been tested.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The H3 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker