Hummer H3 Alpha – 2008 First Drive: Imagine naming one of your children Genius. You’re absolutely positive that this particular offspring will live up to the expectations of his grandparents, future employers, and not least of all, you. The name provides the kid with an optimistic step forward, and compared to his paste-eating sister, he’s Einstein reincarnated. And then you enroll your future know-it-all in school, only to discover that your progeny, while countless brain cells ahead of his sibling, is just an average Joe. Well, no, he’s not Joe. He’s Genius, a name that it now appears he may never live up to.
Welcome to the world of the 2008 Hummer H3 Alpha. As little Genius might learn in his first lesson on wolves, alpha is a term associated with the most aggressive or respected member of a group or pack. Follow the logic and it would seem that the H3 Alpha should represent the be-all and end-all of midsize suvs. And it does, provided the field consists only of Hummer H3s. One of the primary complaints with the existing H3 has been about the lack of grunt from its five-cylinder engine, even since more power was added for 2007. The V-8-powered Alpha addresses that issue, tacks on a nice grouping of standard features, and maintains outstanding off-road capability to boot. But even with the upgrades and that king-of-the-hill name, competitors continue to build rides that match or exceed the H3 Alpha in the areas of power, towing capacity, utility, and overall bang for the buck. Running about average and unable to live up to unrealistic expectations, the 2008 Hummer H3 Alpha might the perfect ride for our little Genius.
General Motors has been building Hummers for about eight years, starting with the H1, following with the H2 in 2002, and finally introducing the H3 in 2005. Based on the Chevrolet Colorado pickup, the smaller and more affordable H3 SUV was created to draw new shoppers into Hummer showrooms. The first examples rolled off the assembly line as 2006 models, priced from just under $30,000 and offering 220 horsepower from a 3.5-liter five-cylinder engine. Cries for more power brought a 242-horse, 3.7-liter five-cylinder in 2007, and finally, the 300-horsepower, V8-powered 2008 H3 Alpha.