DETROIT - Black on black in black. It's been a while since we've really been impressed with that color combination. But it really looked good on our 2008 Hummer H3X SUV.
Our test vehicle answered the main complaint from auto scribes about the Baby Hummer - its lack of power. Although the H3 is smaller than a full-size H2, it still weighed about 5,000 lbs. and the 3.7-liter inline-five cylinder engine at 242 horsepower and the same amount of torque wasn't getting the job done.
Although that engine is still standard, our H3X was equipped with a 5.2-liter V8 that made 300 horsepower and 320 pounds-feet of torque. Mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox, this drive train provided more than adequate power to conduct everyday driving.
Acceleration was sufficient to get away from red lights without folks getting mad or zooming by us. We got on expressways with relative ease. Once on we didn't feel defenseless. Our test vehicle got from 60 mph to 80 mph nicely. But it was a little sluggish getting up to higher speeds. That was okay because the H3X is a truck based SUV and as such it's not supposed to go zooming down the expressway like a sedan.
Beyond the ebony hue of our test vehicle, the package on our H3X included chrome tube steps, body colored grille, spare tire cover, 18-inch wheels and center cap and embroidered head rests.
But what really impressed us was the minimalist interior design. For a minute, we didn't think there was a radio because the center stack was devoid of clutter. There was a touch screen navigation system and the controls for it as well as the audio system were neatly stacked to the left of the screen.
Press a button and the appropriate controls appeared on the touch screen. Those buttons could have been bigger but that was our only quibble. There was one small knob for power and audio and one small knob to tune the radio station and that was it.
Our test vehicle had a rearview camera. However, in an interesting twist, the screen slid out from the side of the rearview mirror when we put the Hummer H3X into reverse. In effect, the set up kept the rear view mirror within our sight range.
For what it was, we were quite pleased with the H3X. Our test vehicle had the off road package that featured a rugged suspension, fully locking rear differential and 33-inch off road tires. What's more, our H3X could tow 6,000 lbs, fjord through two-feet of water at 5 mph and it had 55.7 cubic ft of cargo space with the second row seat folded.
As with most rugged off road vehicles, the H3X had four wheel-drive with a low gear for sloshing through the woods.
We felt like we were sitting in a pill box. Hummers have tall body panels and short windows. But the combination provided us with a cozy impenetrable feeling that might be appreciated in some places. The lift gate was one piece and it swung open rather than lifted up. It was easy for us to use and we liked it better than a traditional lift gate.
Our test vehicle also had OnStar with a hands free phone, on board diagnostics, turn by turn navigation and emergency services. It was based priced at $38,375 but it was equipped with almost $6,000 worth of options.
The creature comforts included a power sunroof, trailer hitch and wiring, premium audio system, satellite radio and leather seats. The total tab came to $44,890. Although our Hummer H3X had a really slick, sleek look and handled these streets really well, it was a rugged SUV that deserves to wear the Hummer badge.
Frank S. Washington can be reached at [email protected] Or, snail mail him at PO Box 23167, Detroit, MI, 48223.