Modern chariot of the military, the AM General HMMWV has become a mechanical symbol of freedom. The mere sight of one conjures patriotic spirit and forces a smile. Designed in the late 1970s to extreme performance specifications that would daunt even NASA engineers, it's the Humvee's unrivaled capabilities and unmistakable appearance that have transformed the mighty vehicle into a respected off-road icon.
In a rare case of military-commissioned hardware becoming available to the public, the civilian Hummer started selling in small numbers in 1992. While some packaging elements were softened for real-world use, the hardware that made the Hummer special remained intact. This is historically fitting coming from AM General, a company whose roots stretch back to Willys-Overland and the production of the original "Jeep" during WWII.
Through the years, we've evaluated the Hummer in the harshest conditions available, ranging from Death Valley Torture Tests to running the AM General's Indiana proving grounds. In these brutal environs, the Hummer's abilities never cease to amaze. At AM General, we've run the gamut, putting the Hummer through military-grade tests: scaling a 22-inch vertical wall, traversing a 40-degree side slope, climbing 60-degree grades, and fording 30 inches of water. Perhaps being built to have a 15-year service life in the hands of 18-year-old drivers is the most impressive spec of all.
Without question, its off-road credentials are impressive, but how does the Hummer do in suburbia? Representing the extreme end of the vehicle spectrum, with a Ferrari F60 at the other, compromises are assumed with the Hummer. It is a massive 7154-pound vehicle that measures 101 inches across at the mirrors, requiring it to be driven more like a large commercial vehicle than nimble sport/cute. But for the driver who can appreciate the heritage and abilities, the abundant compromises can lend a certain novel charm.