Designed to negotiate tight motor pools, trails, and war-torn streets, the relatively small turning radius adds tremendously to the suburban driving ease. With a 26.5-foot turning diameter, the Hummer can pull into most parking spaces without a five-point operation. Of course, losing sight of the car next to you when parking does take some getting used to. The steering wheel itself is slightly undersized. Factor in the extremely flat turning dynamics (due to massive springs to accommodate the 1.5-ton cargo capacity), and handling is actually one of the most fun aspects of driving the big Class 3 truck. Braking is not quite as enjoyable. The pedal travel on our tester was limited to almost millimeters, requiring deft pressure application to get the desired result without lunging passengers forward. On the plus side, the four-channel ABS disc brakes provide an extra measure of safety and control when the surface is slippery, especially off pavement.
Tooling through greater suburbia a decade after the Gulf War, the Hummer still turns heads. Motorists being aware of the vehicle helps on those occasions when you need to make a tough turn through traffic, there is less worry the oncoming vehicles won't see you. We had curious onlookers ask numerous questions as we drove around, with the most frequent being, "How much does it cost?" No one was prepared for the answer: $109,000 base price for the wagon. Our tester had the new-for-2002, two-piece 17-inch wheels, pushing the grand total to $111,302.
Practical? No. Fun? Oh, yeah. The Hummer can be used daily by an impassioned, well-heeled driver, but it's most appropriate commuting only as a reminder of the great adventures it can take on the weekends. Although its house-like price puts the original H1 well of the reach of most Americans, the dirt-bound fantasy vehicle will soon spawn more livable and affordable H2 and H3 models.