FINE-TUNING OVER TIME
Over beers, fresh trout, and baked potatoes at our overnight camp along the edge of Shaver Lake, Todd Hubbard, who oversees H3/H3T ride and handling, says an extraordinary amount of seat time was devoted to making the new Hummer pickup handle well on and off-road.
Hubbard says they spent hundreds of hours tuning the suspension so the pickup's 55/45 front/rear weight distribution was well managed on road and off, on paved or gravel surfaces, whether towing or unburdened.
What remains in the H3T's development cycle is putting 45 to 50 integration vehicles-those actually built on a production line in Brazil-on the road where GM drivers will put more than 500,000 miles under their wheels. Many of these will be sacrificed in crash tests. The others will be crushed or used as parts donors for the next-generation Hummer.
Before actual production begins in mid-2008, another 100 or so preproduction H3T models will be built. Eventually these, too, will be recycled or crushed.
It saddens me to turn the switch from 4L to 2H. Two days behind the wheel of this new Hummer pickup has shown me just how good a vehicle this is. It's ideal for those who want that Hummer look without sacrificing anything in utility value and performance.
I make one last attempt at saving one of these mules from its predestined fate of destruction. "Honest, I'll keep it in a car hauler trailer and use it only off-road," I mock a hands-clasped plea to Williams as I exit the V-8-powered white H3T. He smiles. "Nice try."
While the camoed H3Ts were testing on the mountain trails, we also got access to some non-camoed H3Ts as they were being photographed for their big debut at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show in February. The longer wheelbase and modified frame will make this essentially a midsize pickup, with much more versatility than the H2 SUT. GM's bedrail system will come standard, and Hummer dealerships will have a huge selection of factory parts available right at the dealership. The 2009 models won't hit dealerships until the last half of 2008.
Among some of the bed accessories offered by Hummer dealerships will be bike and motorcycle tiedown cleats, storage toolboxes, and sliding gear walls. Integrated into the plastic inner bed wall of the H3T are four side-mounted storage cubbies, two on each side. They're not huge, but they'll hold some tools, gloves, and tow straps. There's also a "work truck" bed frame for carrying ladders and long pipes.