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2003 H2 Hummer

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Oct 2, 2002

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


By HARVEY SCHWARTZ All Photos & © by Harvey Schwartz

It's been 10-years since American General, maker of the famous US Army Spec Hummer lightweight 4X4 vehicle, first brought out a street-legal version H1 because of a growing demand from consumers for maximum off-road capability, no matter the price. Three years ago, General Motors entered into an agreement to manufacture a version of the H1 that would be slightly smaller in size, keep most of its awesome off-road capability, give a more compliant and comfortable ride, plus treat the passengers inside to all the conveniences and luxuries offered in premium sport utility vehicles. GM has done a superb job of growing the Hummer family of off-road warriors.

I write that the H1 Hummer is a beast - mainly because of its size, weight and girth. GM has added more interior comfort and amenities to today's H1 but it is still huge with a track of 72 inches and overall width of 86.5 inches, while riding on a wheelbase of 130in. It is difficult to park and drive on conventional roads. The Hummer H1 comes with a 6.5liter Turbo Diesel V8 that is noisy and takes up most of the front center space on the inside. Weighing in at whopping 7154lbs. for the four-door wagon, this heavyweight champion makes maneuvering very cumbersome and tricky. But it can go off-road like no other vehicle. With a ground clearance of 16in. there's no stopping the H1. Prices start at $80,000.00.

Enter the H2, expanding the product lineup and making the brand more accessible to more buyers with a slightly scaled down, more civilized version of the H1 that's every bit as rugged and every inch a Hummer. After testing the Hummer H2 on the streets and highways around Los Angeles, and off-road in the dry Mojave Desert, I have to say that the H2 is exhilarating, confidence building, and uncompromising in off-road mode, with the comforts and amenities found in other premium sport utility vehicles. Its on-pavement manners, including ride comfort, are extremely refined. The H2 is very easy to drive and maneuver and very quiet with the windows closed. Yet off-road, it is almost as fiercely utilitarian as its famous progenitor-capable of traveling through streams 20-inch deep, climbing 16-inch steps and rocks, paddling through deep sand and outdistancing competitors in high-speed desert runs. Special customized accessories and packages are available to satisfy the strong desire of Hummer owners to personalize their vehicles.

The H2's exterior styling is extremely daring, attention getting, and comes with a standard front tubular grille guard. It's instantly recognizable as belonging to a highly exclusive brand, at the top of its class in off-road performance. The H2's look and feel convey the sense of power, authority and complete control that special consumers seek. "In practical terms, the rugged individualist will be more likely to take the H2 off-road and exploit all capabilities," said Marc Hernandez, H2 marketing director. The successful achiever is more likely to drive it on-road as a symbol of his daring and success.

The H2 is powered by a standard Vortec 6.0-liter V8, mated to a new HD 4L65-E four-speed automatic overdrive transmission with best-in-class power and performance. The Vortec 6000 generates 315 hp/360 lb.ft. of torque. The 4L65-E provides GM's driver-selectable Tow-Haul mode when the transfer case is in the Å’4 Hi' modes. The H2 also features a standard, powertrain-integrated Borg-Warner 2-speed electrically controlled full-time 4WD system. It is capable of further reducing the vehicle's gear ratios by 2.64:1 when necessary, for highly controlled obstacle climbing. It provides a 40/60 front-to-rear torque split in 4WD-Å’Hi Open' or when the differentials are unlocked, and a 50/50 front-to-rear power split, when the transfer case differential is locked. The transfer case electronic control provides 5-mode selections, including rear axle differential lock, to provide optimum performance under all types of driving conditions. All 4X4 gear changes are by push-button actuation with shift-on-the-fly for all 4WD Hi Modes. The large aluminum and leather-wrapped gear selector is mounted on the center console for easy access and easy use.

A highly developed Bosch 4-channel ABS/Traction Control System (TCS) provides optimum control on slippery surfaces. In addition, the ABS can detect and adjust its braking capabilities to rough off-road surfaces like gravel and potholes. The TCS also provides new-for-GM capabilities, including the ability to gain traction through a single wheel, if necessary. A new feature, controlled through a separate driver control switch is the TC2 function. This provides for more wheel slip in the traction control mode for sand and desert racing conditions. The steel disc brakes on the H2 are big, 12.8 inches up front and 13 inches in the rear with dual piston calipers at each wheel. Dynamic rear brake proportioning keeps the braking even when you have a load of extra weight in the back or when towing.

The H2 has a 122.8-inch wheelbase that helps smooth out the ride on freeway cruises; while off-road it helps prevent pitching in rough terrain. The H2's 69.4-inch tread width, with wheels truly positioned at the extreme corners, provides extra stability on-road and helps prevent lateral tipping off-road. Its extremely short overhangs, including a 32.6-inch front overhang and 34.6-inch rear overhang, provide high approach and departure angles, allowing H2 to drive right into a hole and out again without getting hung up in front or rear. These approach and departure angles are the highest of any GM full-size truck. The H2 rides on giant LT315/70R17-inch all-terrain tires that are wrapped around 17X10-inch cast aluminum wheels. Driving and parking the H2 was the same experience as when I tested the new Chevy Suburban. It fits into all parking spaces and average sized garages.

A fully-welded ladder-type frame, with a modular, 3-piece design that incorporates a number of hydroformed components, offers outstanding strength, stiffness and dimensional accuracy. All body panels are made of 2-sided, galvanized, extra-thick, steel sheet metal.

A standard independent front torsion bar and 5-link coil spring rear suspension provides excellent on-road comfort and control, and a high degree of strength, control and rear-axle articulation off-road. Front and rear stabilizer bars help keep the front and rear of the H2 flat when going into turn's on-road. Its solid rear axle ensures durable surefootedness, particularly in tight off-road situations. A new optional self-leveling rear air spring suspension is tuned to H2's severe off-road requirements. When way off-road and climbing over rocks, the underside is protected with large, thick skid plates, an undershield for the fuel tank, chassis-bolted steel rocker panel protectors, a protective shield for the optional on-board air compressor, and large mud flares for the wheels. The H2 also comes with a full complement of tow hooks for exceptional pulling capabilities-2-thick front stationary tow hooks and 2-extra thick, swiveling tow hooks in the rear.

The H2 interior features big and comfortable front bucket seats with standard 8-way power adjustments for the front seat cushions, and back, plus a standard memory feature for the driver's seat that allows 2-drivers to select and set their preferred positions. The instrument cluster is straight-ahead easy to see and understand. All buttons, switches and dials are easy to reach, operate, and all are full-illuminated for safe nighttime traveling. The front bucket seats and rear 60/40 split bench seat come standard in cloth with vinyl inserts, while the optional leather seats get heated seat backs and cushions with three temperature settings, and second row occupants get heated cushions. The electronically controlled heating, ventilation and A/C (HVAC) system provides fast warm-ups and cool-downs and an amazing degree of individualized front-seat comfort. The standard dual-zone front controls, for example, allow the driver and front passenger to set individual temperatures with as much as 25-degree difference. Audio choices include a selection of premium, high-quality sound systems, and a standard 9-speaker Bose AM-FM stereo/in-dash six-CD player audio system with separate passenger controls for second row listening pleasure through standard earphones. All sound systems provide next-generation audio configurations and include Radio Data Systems (RDS) technology. A LED readout 'Driver Information Center' provides up to 28 warnings for specific vehicle functions and allows two drivers to personalize their driving environment, taking advantage of separate driver memory settings. Other standard features in the H2 include power windows (with front AutoDown), door locks, great storage in all-four doors, glove box and deep center console that has an indented top to keep items from slipping over the edges, electronic cruise-control, variable speed wipers/washers, rear wiper/washer/de-fogger, front side window de-foggers, electro-chromic rearview mirror with compass heading/outside temperature readouts, warning chimes for lights-on, key-in ignition, turn-signal on, power, remote controlled/heated/self-dimming side-view mirrors, thick-cut plush carpeting, with thick, hard-rubber framed, front/rear floor mats, tilting/leather wrapped steering wheel with controls for audio/trip computer/HVAC on the inside 4-spokes, variable speed wipers/washers, theater lighting and map lamps. There are grab handles galore up front and in the back for easy entry and exit. The rear hatch easily lifts up to reveal a lightweight, easy to pullout, folding single seat plus a full-size spare tire. The second row seats can easily fold flat to expand the cargo capacity of the H2. The optional roof rack can securely accommodate the spare tire and other types of cargo when you need to use all of the interior cargo capacity on your travels.

H2 safety features include standard front airbags, 4-way adjustable headrests, arm rests, and comfortable, seatback-mounted lap-shoulder belts for front passengers; lap and B pillar-mounted shoulder belts for second row outboard passengers and a lap belt for the center passenger; a seat-mounted lap-shoulder belt and adjustable headrest for the optional third-row seat, child-safety locks in the rear doors, Daytime Running Lamps let other drivers know where you are at all times and weather conditions, front/rear crush zones, steel side-impact beams in each door, Remote-Keyless-Entry, and a standard ONSTAR System. OnStar is the nation's leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services using the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite network and wireless technology. OnStar services include automatic notification of airbag deployment, stolen vehicle location, remote door unlock, emergency services dispatch, roadside assistance, remote diagnostics, route support, convenience services and OnStar Concierge. Virtual Advisor gives subscribers access to personalized information in a hands free, voice-activated manner with no screens or displays.

The wide range of civilized and extra rugged features makes the H2 a full-sized SUV with unprecedented versatility. It is a Hummer through and true, particularly in terms of capabilities on rough terrain, but with an air of civility and refinement previously unheard of in a vehicle with such capabilities.

If you want to own and ride the new 'king of the Hill' in off-road vehicles, yet also want to maintain your comfort and other creature features, the all-new 2003 GM Hummer H2 is the one to test drive.

The only downside to owning the H2 is the poor fuel mileage because of its high curb weight and tremendous off-road capability, but the H2's 6.0liter Vortec V8 runs on less expensive 87 octane unleaded fuel.

I had a great time driving the all-new H2 Hummer on and off-road and so will you. The H2 is a confidence builder when you're chasing those off-road adventures.

Prices for the H2 Hummer start at only $51,000.00, not bad for the new 'king of the Hill'.

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