I recently got a chance to spend a weekend driving the Hummer H3. Needless to say, I was very excited! There is just something about the looks of the vehicle that says, “I can conquer the world”…or at least my suburb. The H3 looks pretty macho with its mil-spec styling cues, despite it being the downsized junior of the Hummer lineup. Overall, the H3 lived up to my expectations initially, but ultimately reality set in regarding its lack of practicality and ease of use for everyday errands and life. It must be noted that I never took the H3 off-road, which is the vehicle’s true strength. Rather, I used it in the context that most Hummer products are used – around town, in the ‘burbs, on freshly paved roads.
AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards results are in. AutoPacific’s awards collect the opinions of OWNERS. There is no subjectivity added by AutoPacific at all.
Truck-Based Traditional SUVs Most Satisfying
As usual, there are expected winners and unexpected losers, but let’s take a look at some overall results that will surprise many of you.
The vehicle type with the highest Vehicle Satisfaction Score is the Traditional Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are truck-based SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade
, Toyota Sequoia
, Ford Explorer
, Toyota 4Runner
, Kia Sorento
, HUMMER H3
and Toyota FJ Cruiser
. In fact, the Toyota Sequoia was the top scoring vehicle – car or truck – in AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction results.
Car-Based Crossover SUVs More Satisfying than Cars, Minivans, Pickups
The second highest scoring category was the Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are car-based SUVs like the Audi Q7
, BMW X3
, Acura RDX
, Buick Enclave
, GMC Acadia
, Hyundai Veracruz
, Suzuki XL-7
, Ford Edge
, Saturn Vue
, Toyota RAV4
and Nissan Rogue
. Crossovers are the response by the automakers to make more user-friendly SUVs and in 2006 Crossover SUVs began outselling Traditional SUVs… a trend that will not be reversed.
Rated substantially behind SUVs are Cars, Minivans and Pickups.
Clearly, even in times of high and increasing fuel prices, SUVs are here to stay. Their Swiss Army Knife utility guarantees they will be a central part of a high many family fleets in the future. The continuing jihad against SUVs has failed again!
Hummer Brings its Second Alpha Product
Back in 2005, Hummer introduced a new performance label for the range, Alpha. The first was a short-lived H1 Alpha that boasted a 6.6L Duramax diesel, available only for the 2006 model year. In 2007, we see the second Alpha product, in the form of a much-needed V8 for the H3. Hummer introduced the Alpha H3 along with updates to the H2 and H2 SUT at the 2007 New York auto show, with sales set for summer 2007.
The H3 launched with only the 220HP in-line five-cylinder from the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, an engine American buyers don’t really understand, and more power had been in the works since launch. Enter H3 Alpha.
The H3 Alpha gets a 295HP 5.3L OHV 16v V8 (from the Chevy Silverado) under the hood. Bundled with the Alpha package is the Chrome Appearance package, the Luxury equipment package, a 4.10 rear axle ratio, and Alpha insignia on the tailgate, horn pad, and embroidered into the front headrests. A real in-your-face look can be created by adding the H3 X package, which adds bright roof crossbows, chrome fuel door, body-color grille, and specific spare tire cover, tires, wheels, and brush guard.
Along with the H3 Alpha, Hummer announced a few minor changes the full H3 2008 range. The previously optional head curtain side air bags become standard and the Rear Vision system introduced on the H2 and a navigation system join the H3’s options list. New standard safety equipment includes StabiliTrak and four-wheel antilock brakes with traction control.
Firsts for Wrangler: Four Doors and Seating for Five
Further meeting the Even More promise Jeep made with the introduction of the latest Wrangler in January, the Wrangler Unlimited adds twenty inches to the wheelbase, two doors, and creates enough room to seat five. Jeep ensured that Wrangler Unlimited includes the open-top driving aspect of the Wrangler appeal. The new Unlimited benefits from the mechanical, interior, and exterior changes of the standard Wrangler, including a standard Sunrider softop (introduced on the 2004.5MY two-door Unlimited, it has a sunroof area that can be opened over first- and second-row passengers if you don’t want to take the whole thing down) and the optional new three-piece Freedom top hardtop. Jeep takes the liberty of calling the Wrangler Unlimited the only four-door convertible on the market; you’ll find it in dealers in fall 2006 though information can be found on Jeep‘s consumer web site now.
Jeep unveiled the four-door model at the 2006 New York auto show
, with the help of local firefighters, as they washed away more than six tons of mud to reveal the star of Jeep’s show stand. The Patriot was unveiled alongside the Wrangler, but the Wrangler is still the heart of the brand. AutoPacific
contributors were there to see the unconventional reveal, keeping out of the path of flying mud.
SEMA’s H3 Street Concept Becomes New-for-2007MY H3x.
At the 2005 SEMA show, Hummer displayed a special H3 called the Street. This has translated into a production model due on showroom floors in mid-2006. Though an off-the-shelf package, the H3x works to attract buyers who want a custom look without the extra effort. H3x takes the H3 Luxury package and adds chrome tube steps, the chrome appearance package, and a chrome fuel door. H3x also wears a body-color grille and spare tire cover, a brush guard, and unique tires, wheels, and center cap. The interior is the same as other H3 trim levels, but adds embroidered headrests. Buyers can customize their H3x by their interior and exterior color choices, which include the whole eight exterior and three interior color palette on the H3.