Film star Arnold Schwarzenegger was the first civilian to buy one, in 1992. Credit or blame him for making AM General's HMMWV the post-Desert Storm macho superhero. Governor Schwarzenegger was perhaps the last Californian to repudiate the brand, in 2006. General Motors' Hummer division went from Operation Desert Storm hero to tree-huggers' zero about the time its armored capabilities lost credibility in the early days of the Iraq War. Did GM think that Hummer could transcend its short-term macho fashion statement status? That its big-on-the-outside, small-on-the-inside gas hogs would survive oil price spikes?
It did, long enough to foist possibly the last, and by default the best Chevy-based Hummer on the consumer, the H3T. It rides on the crude Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon crew cab architecture (with a wheelbase stretched nearly eight inches) and available with those pickups' 3.7-liter I-5 or 5.3-liter V-8 engines.
The "T" turns the H3's useless cargo area into a useful pickup bed, good for mountain bikes and other outdoor gear you can throw in back to mitigate the emissions-spewing image. That's something you can't get in the bigger H2T, which has a useless bed for the truck's size.
Forget the V-8-powered Alpha, which comes only with a four-speed automatic. Ours also came with an as-tested sticker price of $45,195, making it the antithesis of value. It's no quicker to 60 mph and only slightly more refined than the I-5, which, at least, is available with a five-speed manual. Markus prefers the Alpha's 4x4 system, which engages 4H Lock and 4L Lock easily, and it goes where you point it through deep sand and ruts. The H3T can equal most Jeeps off-road, except that its long chassis translates into a poor breakover angle. "Beyond that, I find no redeeming features to this vehicle," Markus continues. "The passenger seat rocked so violently on the axle-hop hill that I wondered if it was missing a mounting bolt or two."
Williams will tell you that its off-road capabilities are reason enough. "Wow! The sand wash section, in the Alpha, was like running Baja, with a wide-open throttle. Just guide the big, fat tires in a general direction, then steer with the throttle. Almost felt like it was tuned for desert running. Does a nice job of high-speed smooth-dirt floating and drifting as well."