Preview Drive: The Hummer in Civvies

The new H2 is no military machine, but it can travel in the same circles.

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This is no Chevy Tahoe.

I was concerned, I'll now admit, that the all-new Hummer H2 would be a wannabe dressed in battle fatigues. And I had good reason: To keep the price only a notch or two above reasonable, the H2 is built on GM's full-size truck platform. Nothing wrong there, provided your aim is to build a Chevy Tahoe.

This is no Chevy Tahoe. In our tests at GM's proving grounds, we found the H2 nearly as capable as the original H1. It climbed confidently over logs, up steep hills, and through a quicksand-like pit of pea gravel. The modern platform enables modern components like a multilink coil spring rear suspension, electronic differential locks, antilock brakes, and a stability system. The net effect is a vehicle that handles the dirt like a military truck, but has enough finesse for the highway.

The H2's transfer case features five modes that can be selected electronically, including a rear differential lock for really tough spots. The traction control system, meanwhile, has a setting that allows for more wheel slip in soft soil. The optional self-leveling rear air suspension can compensate for extreme off-road conditions, and skidplates armor the underside. And the mammoth 315/ 70R-17 tires are impressively quiet despite aggressive treads, thanks to new-generation design software that carefully arranged and shaped the tread blocks.

-Dan Carney

Offroading is relative

How the Hummer H2 stacks up against its older and bigger cousin.

H1

Base Price: $113,824
Engine: 195-hp turbo-diesel V8
Weight: 7,154 lbs.
Gas mileage: 13/17
Min. Ground Clearance: 16 in.
Scaling Ability: 22-in. wall
Fording Depth: 30 in.
Winch Capacity: 12,000 lbs.
Maximum payload: 3,486 lbs.

H2

Base Price: $48,800
Engine: 315-hp Vortec V8
Weight: 6,400 lbs.
Gas mileage: 13/17
Min. Ground Clearance: 10 in.
Scaling Ability: 20-in. wall
Fording Depth: 20 in.
Winch Capacity: 9,000 lbs.
Maximum payload: 2,200 lbs.