Ingress requires at least average-length legs and certain spryness; it's necessary to step over a large sill that gives the long body essential structure. Inside, all passengers find themselves cocooned in tight chambers despite a living-room-sized interior. It is hard to believe a battle-dressed soldier would have adequate space. A wide central section accommodates the high-mounted engine and transmission, a design feature critical to the 16-inch ground clearance. The seats are basic 1980s-era buckets with limited adjustments, though they are downright cushy compared the punishing pews the mil-spec Humvee uses. Likewise, the dash and its accompanied switchgear appears kit-car crude, but again is quite full-featured compared to the Spartan military models. Fire up the 6.5-liter turbodiesel V-8 and the truck chugs like a Freightliner, ensuring the neighbors can easily track its comings and goings. Visibility is hampered by the short vertical glass and towering ride height. Backing out of the driveway requires a mirror triple-check, due to a significant blind corner on the driver's side.
Once on the road, the Hummer feels large and ponderous. Its 195 horsepower work to get the rig up to speed, with glacial throttle response. Passing maneuvers are feasible but they must be strategized. Momentum management is the key, whether accelerating or decelerating. Driving in the slow lane and leaving a generous amount of space between vehicles are natural cautions and prove to be little inconvenience. The auditory assault from the engine, 37-inch tires, and to a lesser degree, wind noise acts as a rudimentary speed governor. Fortunately, the powerful Monsoon stereo can drown out the noise with large speakers aimed right at the passengers' heads.
For both performance and sound output, we wish the 6.6-liter/300-horsepower Duramax turbodiesel offered in the Chevrolet heavy-duty pickups were available. For now, AM General is very committed to the older 6.5-liter due largely to the military necessity of minimizing the number of parts and service protocols, especially for forward deployments.