Williamstown, Mass. – Fireflies danced in the muggy darkness of a hot New England night, the kind you wait for all winter long, and the stars glittered above. The 2006 Hummer H3 carried our quartet of merrymakers along a dirt two-track through the woods, taking us to a corn field that undulated across the hilltops overlooking “The Village Beautiful.” The Hummer’s high beams and fog lights traced a tractor’s path through the tall grass, and I guided the H3’s 33-inch Dueler AT all-terrain tires onto this wavy way. When we reached the path’s highest elevation, I cut the engine. Chris, Mike, Laurie and I took our seats on the long roof and snub hood of the Hummer, just as the fireworks to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a local art museum began. We were truly off the beaten path, without a soul in sight, as thousands sat on blankets and elbowed for viewing room in the valley below.
“This Hummer is soooo cool,” said Chris, an eighth-grader at the local high school. His younger brother Mike and their mom enthusiastically agreed. As far as my companions were concerned, the new H3 looked every bit a Hummer, despite the fact that it’s a good amount shorter, a tad narrower, less tall, and significantly weaker than its closest sibling, the Hummer H2. The color of liquid sunshine, our Hummer H3 had a black brush guard and gigantic tow hooks in front, a meant-for-business roof rack on the top, chiseled fender flares at the sides, and enormous tires capable of tackling serious terrain. However, we were not boulder bashing. We simply wanted to get a small distance from civilization, and the H3 ferried us to an isolated spot that only those with high ground clearance and low-range gearing could get to with ease.
I had been waiting for this ‘baby’ Hummer to make its way to my door for a long time. Fully familiar with the upgraded 2006 Hummer Alpha H1 that retails well above $100,000 and the popular Hummer H2 with a transaction price that begins at half that amount, I wanted to see if the third iteration of this iconic model, priced beginning at $29,500, was an authentic Hummer.
“You can’t get by on looks alone,” my mom used to say. Maybe you can, however, if you’re the 2006 Hummer H3. The new baby looks just like its bigger brothers. And, while it didn’t quite get the eye-goggling attention that the H1 and H2 received during test drives when they were new to the roads of America, many necks snapped to follow the H3 and many young thumbs raised in approval during a test-drive in this mini beast.