Test Track
Our first task at the Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area was acceleration testing on a packed dirt road in 4-Hi, where results followed power-to-weight ratios and the Xterra excelled. None exhibited more than a tire scuff at launch, the H1 Duramax's full boost countered by static and rolling mass, and traction aids could be heard and felt cycling on the FJ and Xterra.

We did the same for 40-to-0 braking and, as expected, the heavier-tired Hummer and Titan required more space, using the distance a decent 'ute covers going from 60-to-0 on pavement. The H1's distances were longest but generally repeatable, and the Titan's kept getting shorter as its aggressive tires carved out canyons, piling dirt ahead of them. The lighter FJ had the best pedal feel by far and it braking distance averaged just a foot more than the Xterra-easily attributable to its street tires (the spare cover "tread" is more aggressive)-but the Xterra's identical and shortest stopping distances gave it the advantage here. Not bad for the only drum brakes in the test.

The last exercise was a slightly rutted and inclined creep, run up- and downhill at idle in low range since crawl ratio doesn't account for tires, torque converter, idle speed, or engine compression. Both H1 and Titan automatics took the most time going uphill and each required a momentary nudge on the accelerator at one dip, and the H1's lower idle speed and shorter overall gearing proved best. Gliding downhill, the big-tired Titan (which runs stock gears) has the least mechanical resistance for descents, but the six-speed manual in the FJ went almost as quickly. The H1 ranked second, about 5.5 seconds behind the FJ, and the Xterra's best crawl ratio and compression was a similar margin behind the Hummer.

In back-to-back experiments between the FJ and Xterra, both engines would lug down below 300 rpm (indicated), but only the FJ in this group lacked an oil-pressure gauge that might define the ticking noise as fuel injectors or rod knock.

  Hummer H1 Alpha No Fear Titan Nissan Xterra Toyota FJ Cruiser
0-40 mph, sec 8.9 7.4 6.5 7
40-0 mph, ft 104 101 84 85
Creep ascent, sec 58.7 50.2 41.7 38.7
Creep descent, sec 27.7 17.3 33.1 22.2