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2008 Hummer H3: Shock and Awe for the 'Burbs

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.


Overall, driving the Hummer H3 is a surprisingly comfortable experience, with better-than-expected ride and handling. It’s even pretty quiet despite the big, knobby tires.


The interior is somewhat plasticky but seems durable, and the rubberized cargo area floor mat is well suited for the dirty stuff. One can imagine throwing mountain bikes, camping gear, or muddy boots back there, but for me, it was all about my many trips to Home Depot over the weekend for plants, sod, and grass. The floor material is simply great for hauling all those messier loads.

One of the H3’s hardest attributes to live is visibility from the driver’s seat. It is fine if you are going straight, but heaven help you if you need to backup. This vehicle screams for a rear object detection system or camera. Small windows, a big tailgate-mounted spare tire, and a high beltline make for very poor visibility when switching lanes as well. Also, forget about using a drive-up ATM – thanks to the small windows. The only way I could accomplish it would be to unbuckle and climb up on the seat to hang out of the window. Not something you want to do on a regular basis. Also, if you drive up close you cannot get out of the vehicle to use the machine.
Personal preference: I didn’t like the unripe tomato red color. Other people around the office said they liked the color, but would not want to actually own one in that color (except for the editor, who loved the color but not the vehicle – ed.). I’m a believer in a true red color.
The hue of unripened tomatoes?

Lets not even talk about gas mileage – it’s definitely not a reason to be purchasing this type of vehicle. Besides, if you’re predisposed to a Hummer in the first place in this day and age, fuel price issues are probably not first and foremost on your mind anyways!
So, do I want one? I do love the looks, and I like the fact that it works well for the most part in the suburbs despite its tough image. However, the poor visibility is a deal killer for me. Throw in a rear view camera though, and I’m in!


  • Shirl| December 27, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    You’ve really helped me unedrsntad the issues. Thanks.

  • Neal Davis| July 10, 2008 at 5:32 am

    While the H3 is not known as a gas sipper, we have a 06 Adventure model with the I5 engine and auto trans, and have been pleasantly surprised with a mixed use average of 18mpg. Drive it like its a heavy truck and not a sports car and it’ll reward you with decent enough fuel economy and brake wear usage.

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