2006 Hummer H3 Road Test
Less is more, maybe
Selling Points: Great off-road ability, comfortable interior, easy to drive
Deal Breakers: Five-cylinder engine lacks power, abysmal fuel economy, poor visibility
Our Advice: If you’re looking for a truck-based SUV that can handle off-road and on-road duties, the 2006 Hummer H3 is a stylish, comfortable and capable vehicle.
It’s a mystery of the automotive universe: While gas prices spike and SUVs tank, the one maker of things large and cumbersome always seems to be able to bounce back. Just when conventional wisdom dictates that your local Hummer dealership should be the quietest place in town, it proves to be more resilient to the continuing fuel price crisis and environmental awakening going on in America.
We Americans sure love being King of the Road – even if it costs $80 per tank. We also like to drive exciting vehicles, and the Hummer brand has adrenaline running through its sheetmetal: it goes off-road better than the best of ‘em, and looks like it eats Hondas for a late night snack. The new 2006 Hummer H3 falls right in line, too, in a package more people will find appealing. Call it a 9/10ths-scale Hummer, and for most folks, that’s more than what they really need. Stem to stern, the H3 is a commendable vehicle that delivers a smooth, if truck-based, handling character, extreme off-road capability, a comfortable and usable interior, and that appealing Hummer design. On that basis, it’s a good buy for a mid-sized, five-passenger SUV, at a starting sticker price of $28,935.
Ah. But there’s a price for all that good Hummer stuff, and it starts with fuel economy, that old SUV bugaboo. Rated at around 20 miles per gallon, the H3 will achieve that if you park it. Hurting the H3’s efficiency is a 3.5-liter, inline five-cylinder engine that feels overmatched for the job of lugging 4,700 lbs. around town. And even what you love – that Hummer design – comes at price. It’s okay to put form ahead of function, but when you combine large headrests, small windows and a spare tire stuck on the back door, seeing out of the Hummer H3 is like playing peek-a-boo with nearby motorists.
Still, the price is aggressively set. Add options such as side curtain airbags ($395) and the Luxury Package ($3,125), and you’re looking at a real-world cost of around $34,000, a fair price for a comfortable vehicle that offers all that comes with the Hummer name – the good, and the bad.