Another excellent off-road feature is the Hummer's geared hub design, which increases torque to the wheels and also raises the ground clearance to an impressive 16 inches. The Star of Desert Storm also has superb approach and departure angles, a fording depth of 30 inches, and a new "Torq Trac 4" ABS/traction control system that uses brake intervention to slow a spinning wheel. Also important when you're far from civilization, the Hummer features two fuel tanks (37 gallons total) to give you the capacity to tour off-road from Kuwait City to Baghdad without refueling.

Sure, the Hummer is a wholly unique and amusingly quirky utility vehicle (there frankly isn't much "sport") guaranteed to get you gawked at and/or saluted most everywhere you go. But before you rush out and plunk down your $83,000 (ouch!) for this paramilitary leviathan, you need to conduct a bit of serious soul searching. All of this machine's specialty equipment could come in handy during World War III or a major natural disaster, but would go unappreciated during a trip to Kmart. What is noticeable is the Hummer's horrible interior space utilization, atrocious ergonomics, and wind-tunnel noise levels. Performance from the 6.5-liter/195 horsepower GM turbodiesel is pretty good 0-30 mph thanks to its ultra-flat torque curve (430 pound-feet at only 1800 rpm!), but from there on up to highway speeds, you have to drive flat-out most of the time. We discovered that, after one or two stints behind the Hummer's weird Atari-driving-game-style wheel, the novelty wore off. And during three days in the scorching hot desert, what everyone really wanted was a comfy interior and great air-conditioning.

However, having said all that, when we very nearly got trapped by a raging flash flood in Death Valley's Warm Springs Canyon, and the muddy waters were traveling down-and up-hills with us at over 20 mph, it was very comforting to be firmly ensconced in AM General's off-road sledgehammer.

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