With sweater, scarf, hat, gloves and boots secured, we grabbed the keys and headed outside to remove the vehicle buried in the driveway so the plow could clean up.
Hummer SUVs come in two flavors, the full-size H2 and the midsize H3. For 2009 H3 adds the H3T companion, with the "T" for truck. It's kind of a no-brainer, considering the H3 was derived from the midsize Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon pickup.
But something bigger than the H3T could doom it. A financially reeling General Motors said it plans to save money by disposing of Hummer. Not sure who the next owner will be or whether GM will build the vehicles for it, and such uncertainty tends to discourage buyers.
"Our dealer body is still strong and the brand will be around a long time regardless of who the owner is," insists Hummer spokesman Nick Richards. "Hummer has lots of equity around the globe."
In fairness, Ford sold Land Rover, and it hasn't disappeared. And everyone knows Ford would like to sell Volvo, and the car buyers are still coming.
Richards says it's not that consumers are uncertain about ownership or have their shorts in a knot over Hummer's low mileage, as it is they're finding it difficult to get a loan for a vehicle starting at $40,000 to $50,000 now that the banking industry has melted down.
The H3T has Hummer DNA—big and bold with that distinctive seven-slot grille. It offers a choice of suspensions for on-road trailering or off-road adventure. Think fording 2-foot streams, scaling 16-inch rocks or tree limbs and climbing mountains. The test vehicle came with the off-road suspension ($1,725).
The H3T offers a choice of a 3.7-liter, 239-horsepower 5-cylinder or a 5.3-liter, 300-h.p. V-8. The Alpha designation is the beefiest version that can tow up to 6,000 pounds.
We tested the H3T Alpha with the V-8 that has no trouble moving the 5,000-pound vehicle. Abundant pep, but the mileage rating is only 13 city / 16 highway. The 5-cylinder is rated at 14/18. With the V-8 you'll get carpel tunnel from having to dig into pocket or purse to quench its thirst. You wouldn't want this as your daily commuter with gas at $4.
H3T is basically a four-door, five-passenger H3 with a 5-foot bed rather than a cargo hold. The bed comes with a sturdy liner for easy loading/unloading and cleanup.
The H3T rides on massive 33-inch radials and sits very high for good visibility on the road and good maneuverability off. But it sits so high, the $780 to $830 side steps are necessary – for anyone who doesn't have a trampoline.
The cabin is a little tight on arm room front and rear, a little short on knee room in back. Rear seat backs fold to hold cargo you wouldn't want to toss in the bed, but you have to remove headrests first. Seats are cushioned to help absorb the bumps off-road, but that off-road suspension can be a little jumpy on clear roads.
The front console holds cell phone and a two cups while rear doors have bottle holders. H3T is Bluetooth capable for hands-free phone service and comes with OnStar, GM's emergency satellite communication system. A camera ($550) in the left corner of the rearview mirror shows what's behind when backing up. The dash houses a pair of power plugs for accessories.
The H3T Alpha starts at $36,015 and includes stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, side-curtain air bags, air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors and AM/FM stereo with CD player.
Power seats run $275, a navi system $1,720.
Dealer installed accessories such as removable and lockable bed-mounted storage boxes; an adjustable chock to secure mountain bikes or motorcycles in the bed; and bed extender/cover/divider can run up the price.
H3T offers safety and security on-, and especially off-, road, without an ounce of political correctness.
Read Jim Mateja Sunday in Rides. Contact him at email@example.com.