Drive - Hummer H3 Used Car Review | Catalog-cars

Drive – Hummer H3 Used Car Review

8 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Hummer H3 Used Car Review
Hummer H3

David Morley.

Pros

It is actually quite good off-road. Lucky, that.

Will probably take a fair hiding without mechanical complaint

Cons

Don’t have an image problem? You do now.

Interior plastics are chessy

Thirsty and slow

Pathetic towing limit in manual version

Daft tailgate arrangement

No diesel engine option

Where, oh where, do we begin with the Hummer H3 as a second-hand buy? Perhaps the best place is with a little history lesson.

During the first Gulf War, the Hummer was the good guys’ (stay with me) vehicle of choice.

And with the siege mentality at the time affecting everything Detroit did, it wasn’t too long before there was a civilian version sold in US showrooms.

By 1999, General Motors had bought the Hummer name and by 2002 had the smaller H2 version on sale to the urban guerillas out there.

Australia saw the inevitable arrival of the Hummer in 2007. But it wasn’t the full caffeine model at all. The H3 we had was actually smaller, lower and shorter than a Toyota LandCruiser Prado of the time. It still weighed about 2.2 tonnes, though, meaning it was slow and thirsty and, at almost two metres wide, was stupidly difficult to park for many people.

And that’s before we debate the slit-like side windows that helped give the thing its visual, er, appeal.

Built in South Africa, the Australia-delivered H3 was powered not by a huge turbo diesel V8 but by a rather less-impressive 3.7-litre five-cylinder petrol engine.

The base transmission was a five-speed manual, while a four-speed automatic was a $2000 option on top of the $52,000 being asked for the base model.

In off-road terms, however, it stacked up pretty well. There was an electronically controlled transfer case with high and low ranges and, on the Adventure model (priced from $58,000 when new), there was also a locking rear differential and a crawler first-gear ratio.

With 180kW of power and all that weight, the Hummer H3 was hardly a quick, nimble machine. But it could acquit itself quite well off-road.

The big problems for most buyers were the lack of a turbo diesel option and a distinct lack of towing capacity (a task for which many four-wheel-drives are specifically purchased).

In fact, with a towing limit of just more than 1300 kilograms in the manual version, many soft-roaders were legally capable of hauling bigger loads. The automatic Hummer could lug just more than two tonnes but with its limited performance, it would have been a major struggle.

Hummer initially had big plans for the H3, including a turbo diesel and V8 petrol option, but neither eventuated as the H3 launched into a fuel crisis and, consequently, marketplace oblivion.

When the vehicle was announced, the company was holding orders from Australian buyers stretching into the next year, so there was initial interest.

But interest died away quickly with the rising fuel cost and as all things as un-green as the H3 became seriously on the nose.

Some of the things that made it so good off-road were its wide tracks and relatively low centre of gravity. Mind you, even that didn’t help on bitumen, where any lairy cornering would likely end in tears.

The other thing to consider is whether a H3 will actually fit down a bush track you might have in mind. With more track than conventional off-roaders, you may find the Hummer doesn’t want to walk in the wheel ruts of vehicles that have gone before it and that can cause problems in some conditions.

Being an American design, the H3 also imposed its share of ergonomic quirks.

The umbrella-handle park-brake was in a bad spot, there was no left footrest and the thick pillars hinder visibility to the rear. If ever a vehicle needed a reversing camera, this was it.

Then there was the tailgate, which was hinged at the side, carried the full-size spare and was heavy to swing open or shut. You also need a fair bit of real estate to swing it right open and that isn’t always available in underground car parks.

Hummer H3

Fit and finish were issues, too, and the interior plastics were typical American rubbish and the instruments looked clumsy and oafish. There’s one recall for the H3, which involves the decorative (read: fake) bonnet louvre.

Apparently, the clips that secure the louvre can break, allowing it to rattle against the bonnet. Break enough clips and the panel could fly off the car at speed.

On modern cars with complex electronics, a check engine can illuminate for any number of reasons. But in a H3, the first thing to check is that the fuel cap is sealing properly.

A faulty cap can actually make the engine think there’s something wrong and light up the dash warning as a result.

Sluggish performance, meanwhile (as in more sluggish than standard), could mean dirty fuel injectors, which really need to be professionally cleaned.

Simply dumping a bottle of proprietary injector cleaner into the tank at the next fill-up probably won’t do the trick.

And with some Hummers actually having been off-road and using isolated service stations, getting a batch of crook fuel can sometimes be a possibility.

If you thought porous aluminium castings would be a thing of the past, we’ve heard of some Hummers with porous wheel rims. Tyres that constantly go flat for no apparent reason are likely victims of these dud rims, which need to be replaced.

Weird noises from the engine bay have been tracked down to a misaligned power-steering pulley. Sounds simple enough to fix but it needs to be done from underneath, with a fair bit of stuff (like the fan shroud and skid plate) removed for access.

We’d also take a long, hard look underneath any off-roader like the Hummer for signs that it’s been bashed over mountains and through rivers.

Regardless of its obvious abilities in this department, when there are examples that have never gone off-road, why buy one that has been used #8212; and possibly abused #8212; in tough conditions?

#160;

#9632;Sluggish acceleration is actually part of the deal but if it’s chronic, you might need your fuel-injectors serviced.

#9632;Standard tyres didn’t like wet bitumen.

#9632;A string of flat tyres with no signs of damage points to porous wheel rims.

#9632;Some Hummers have been brutalised in the bush. Check the underside carefully.

Hummer H3
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