Hummer H2 – 2008 First Drive: Imagine a party attended by the Who’s Who among the luxury suv elite. Range Rover’s there in his tailored European ensemble; Escalade, or Slade, flexes his muscle in a black tux while rappin’ for the crowd, and Navigator, well, he’s been asked to keep off the sauce, sit on the curb, and prepare to give the inebriated guests rides home. And then there’s H2 in a blue polyester getup from his high school prom, entering not through the front door like everyone else, but instead climbing the fire escape ladder to the roof, shimmying down the elevator shaft, and then crawling to the main room on his hands and knees ... after a deep exhale to air down.
H2 is the Rodney Dangerfield of the group – crass and adamant about choosing the path less traveled. At least it has been.
For 2008, Hummer swaps out the H2’s cheap and cheesy interior, bowing to demands for a significant bump in refinement. Borrowing cues from upscale versions of GM’s new full-size trucks, there’s a more elegant gathering of controls and instruments, an abundance of soft-touch and padded surfaces, more comfortable seats, and even the addition of a few steel and alloy bits where plastic once resided. To top it off, there are an extra 68 horses and 50 lb.-ft. of torque to move the more sophisticated package. An extra $500 on the sticker price is one of the few side effects.
A healthy dose of refinement and more grunt under the hood are welcome changes, but head down the paved road and its all Rodney, with vague steering and handling. Off road is another story, but that’s always been the case with the H2.
Better overall, with new dress on the inside, but still lacking the requisite finesse of a luxury SUV. That, in a nutshell, is the 2008 Hummer H2.
In an effort to broaden appeal beyond the H1, General Motors developed the smaller and more mainstream H2, which originally went on sale in 2002. Based on GM’s full-size truck architecture, the H2 married the style of the user-unfriendly H1 with everyday drivability. A pickup version, named the H2 SUT, debuted in 2005.
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In the case of most large suvs, buyers have choices galore, though most relate to power features, entertainment, and shiny wheel options. Same goes for the 2008 Hummer H2, but like its cousin, the Cadillac Escalade, the current king of the Hummer pile is available in traditional SUV and SUV/pickup iterations. The latter is dubbed an SUT (sport utility truck), and like the H2 SUV, is available in base, Adventure and Luxury versions.
All 2008 H2 models draw power from a new, 6.2-liter V-8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Also standard are a Bose sound system, XM satellite radio, OnStar, 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear heating and air conditioning unit, leather upholstery, eight-way power front bucket seats, and all the powered components one would expect in a $50,000+ vehicle. Adventure models add an air suspension system, a six-disc CD changer, black crossbars, rubber floor mats, and a brush guard for the grille. Moving up to the H2 Luxury returns even more standard equipment, including 17-inch chrome wheels, a unique leather interior, and a chrome appearance package that puts a mirror-like finish on the door handles, hood latches and fuel-filler door. Sport utility versions of the H2[R1] Luxury also feature a two-passenger third-row bench seat, serving to bump capacity from five to seven.
Once shoppers have worked through decisions regarding their H2’s body style and standard features, there are a host of options still to consider. Among them are a Turn-by-Turn navigation system that enhances the basic OnStar service, a separate navigation system, an expansive sunroof (standard on the SUT), numerous exterior add-ons, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and more.
General Motors considers Hummer to be a luxury brand, and its models are priced accordingly. When it hits lots later this year, the 2008 H2 SUV will start at $55,510, including a $900 destination charge, which represents a $500 bump over the 2007 base price. Opt for the Adventure Series and you’re up to $57,165. At the top of the chain is the $61,920 H2 Luxury.
The H2 SUT offers identical trim options. The base SUT starts at $55,555 including the $900 destination charge. The Adventure model climbs to $57,170, while the SUT Luxury comes in at $59,555.
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There are some notable changes on the 2008 Hummer H2, but few can be found on the outside. You have to peer inside to see the updated cabin and pop the hood to get a glimpse at the larger V-8, yet H2 nuts might notice that the slots in the grille are a smidge larger and the lower bumpers are now silver rather than black. By the way, if you do notice such inconsequential changes, you really need to get your … oh, nevermind.
The H2 SUT continues on with its nifty midgate design, which when employed extends bed length from nearly three feet to a more usable six feet.
Let’s cut to the chase – the previous H2’s dash vents were a bit gratuitous, resembling a certain part of the female (or possibly overweight male) anatomy. Well, that’s how some of our editors viewed them, and since we’re close to Plasticy Hills, word of a redesigned H2 interior made their one-track minds curious.
One look inside the new model and it’s clear that taste, subtlety and refinement are the guiding principles for the 2008 H2, at least for the interior. There’s a soft-touch dash, accented with rubberized surfaces. Hard plastics can still be found, but they’re much less plentiful and matching grains help to play down their presence. A leather-wrapped steering wheel puts the feeling of quality in the driver’s hands.
Other bits befitting such a pricey ride are alloy door handles with matching material on the center dash and shifter plate, gen-u-ine steel used for the shift knob instead of chintzy plastic, a mesh headliner, chrome-ringed gauges and an instrument panel reminiscent of high-end versions of GM’s redesigned pickups and SUVs.