If there's one sport/utility that people either love or hate (and there's no middle ground), the Hummer H2 is it. Making its debut in 2003, the H2 impressed many Motor Trend staffers at our annual Sport/Utility of the Year competition. Four short years later, the H2 benefits from its first upgrade. Visually, little has changed; it now has some added painted areas and a wider grille opening. However, inside is another story. The dash layout, gauge cluster, center stack, and overall quality are significantly improved. Although still based off a heavy-duty version of the GMT800 SUV platform, the interior has been modernized with many of the design cues from the new Silverado and Tahoe GMT900 vehicles.

The new layout makes the interior feel bigger and more refined, new seat and console materials are vastly improved, and we love the one-touch, window-down button. The best interior change: The center-mounted aviation-style gear shifter has been beefed up and the detents now provide a more solid, heavy-duty feel.

As good as the interior is, the most welcome addition is the all-new, all-aluminum 393-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 and Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic. The new engine is about 20 percent more powerful than the previous cast-iron 6.0-liter V-8 and offers 1500 pounds more towing capacity because of its 415 pound-feet of torque at 4300 rpm. The new transmission has a lower first gear (4.02:1) as well as what effectively works out to be two different overdrive gears, with the top gear of 0.66:1 allowing for relatively low highway cruising rpm. Beyond the odd placement of the switchgear (behind one side of the steering wheel), the transmission is butter smooth and responsive. At the track, the 2008 H2 was more than three seconds faster to 60 mph and two seconds faster in the quarter mile. Stopping distance was the same at 152 feet from 60 mph. And those looking to try out their H2's off-road ability will be interested to know the extra-low first gear allows the vehicle to sport an impressive 39:1 crawl ratio when put into low range. As to fuel economy, this is the last year vehicles of this size and weight will be allowed exemption from EPA numbers, but the H2 gave us 13 mpg combined-expect around 12 city/18 highway.

The H2 gets several new safety features as well, not the least of which is a head-curtain airbag for all three rows of passengers, directly tied into a new rollover mitigation system. Belt pretensioners, electronic stability control, a new traction-control system, and a tire-pressure-monitoring system are all standard. (All H2 upgrades also are part of the new H2 SUT.)

The new powertrain changes the H2's personality, turning the H2 into a much more responsive vehicle than the lumbering elephant others have complained about. It still rides heavy and you're required to dish out some attitude when behind the wheel, but this new H2 offers vastly improved performance with a more refined, premium interior. And at $65K, maybe that should be expected. Love it or hate it, there's more of the H2 to go around.


2008 Hummer H2
Base price $55,510
Price as tested $64,540
Layout Front engine, 4WD, 4-door, 7-pass
Engine 6.2L/393-hp/415-lb-ft OHV V-8
Transmission 6L80 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase, in 122.8
Length x width x height, in 203.8 x 81.2 x 79.2
Curb weight, lb 6614
GVWR, lb 8600
GCWR, lb 16,800
Payload capacity, lb 1980
Max towing capacity, lb 8200
Cargo volume, cu ft 62.6
0-60 mph, sec 7.1
Quarter mile, sec @ mph 15.5 @ 87.7
60-0 mph, ft 152
Fuel econ, city/hwy, mpg 12/18 (est)
CO2 emissions, lb/mile 1.36 (est)
On sale in U.S. Currently