A look back at GM’s most macho SUV

The Hummer H2 was the poster child for GM and the era when body-on-frame SUVs conquered the automotive scene. It was the 2003 model year when the H2 got its start. Things stayed relatively unchanged for the majority of the H2’s existence, save for a drivetrain and interior update in 2008. Sadly, GM stopped production of the H2 midway through the 2009 model year before completely killing the Hummer division in 2010 amid financial woes and the “Great Recession.”

The 2006 model year represents the midway point in the H2’s existence. It also represents the beginning of the end, with sales spiraling downward at a breakneck pace towards ruin. Just over 17,000 H2s were purchased in 2006, a far cry from the 53,000 H2s sold before the end of 2003.

Nevertheless, the H2 soldiered on in bold fashion. Its squared jaw, big V-8 power and rugged suspension kept it highly regarded by off-road enthusiasts and Hollywood personalities. It was the SUV to have and everyone wanted the H2, whether they bought one or not.

Continue reading for the full review.

  • 2006 Hummer H2
  • Year:
    2006
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    Four-speed Automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    325
  • MPG(Cty):
    10
  • MPG(Hwy):
    13
  • Torque @ RPM:
    365
  • Displacement:
    6.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    10 sec. (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; 4WD
  • Price:
  • body style:

Exterior

2006 Hummer H2
- image 6134
2006 Hummer H2
- image 6126
2006 Hummer H2
- image 6129

The H2 borrowed many styling trades from its big brother, the Hummer H1, the civilian version of the U.S. Military’s HUMVEE. The square body lines, the vented hood and its fake helicopter hoists, the angled rocker panel just ahead of the rear tire – it all pulled themes off the H1. That certainly gave the H2 an air of masculinity and toughness.

A roof rack up top allowed for extra storage for bulky items, helping supplement the lack of cargo room behind the second row seat due to the full-size spare tire.

Up front, the H2 featured a seven-slotted grille and round headlights. This prompted a legal battle from Jeep, though Hummer ultimately kept the design. The stubby front bumper allowed for unrestricted access to the front tires for an excellent approach angle. Tow hooks and a two-inch receiver hitch allowed for easy recovery. The receiver hitch was rated for use with a 9,000-pound capacity winch. An optional brush guard further complemented the rugged look.

Small windows down the Hummer’s side were a point of contention for many customers and journalist, thanks to their narrow height and limited outward visibility. A roof rack up top allowed for extra storage for bulky items, helping supplement the lack of cargo room behind the second row seat due to the full-size spare tire.

The rear sported a fairly clean design, with a nearly flat tailgate and window. The rear bumper, like the front bumper, was durable plastic. It featured military-style D-ring recovery points and a two-inch receiver hitch for towing. The H2 came stock with 17-inch wheels wrapped in BFGooodrich All-Terrain T/A tires.

Interior

2006 Hummer H2
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The H2’s interior looked like nothing else in the GM portfolio, despite sharing many parts-bin components. The squared-off center stack featured individual compartments for controls, with the radio, HVAC, OnStar, and 4WD buttons all positioned separately. The driver sat behind a steering wheel and gauge cluster similar to those found in GM’s other full-size SUVs like the Suburban and Yukon. The gearshifter was completely unique to the H2, having an L-shaped grab handle for its four-speed automatic transmission.

The front occupants enjoyed bucket seats separated by a center console with two cup holders and a large storage compartment. Rear seat passengers had a three-person bench seat. A lone passenger could avail of the singe-seat third row stuck next to the spare tire in the cargo area. All told, the H2 could carry six people.

Drivetrain

2006 Hummer H2
- image 6163

The Hummer H2 made use of GM’s then-prevalent 6.0-liter Vortec V-8. Though the engine was only rated for 316 horsepower in 2003 and 2004, a power bump to 325 horsepower in 2005 gave the H2 some needed guts. The power stayed the same until GM replaced the 6.0-liter for the 6.2-liter Vortec V-8 in 2008.

Unlike most other GM SUVs and trucks, the H2 came with an electronically operated Eaton locking rear differential

In 2006, the 6.0-liter V-8 was mated to GM’s 4L65E four-speed automatic transmission. A full-time 4WD system sent power to all four wheels, though a rear axle bias was dialed in. When the going got rough, 4WD High Lock could be selected, locking the torque split equally between the front and rear. When more torque was needed for low-speed obstacles, 4WD Low could be chosen.

Unlike most other GM SUVs and trucks, the H2 came with an electronically operated Eaton locking rear differential. At the push of a button, the rear axle would lock both wheels together, moving them at the same speed and therefore giving the H2 more traction in slippery environments. Most other GM vehicles with a locking rear differential use the G80 mechanical locker from Eaton.

Fuel economy was obviously the Hummer H2’s weak point. The EPA rated the 2006 model at 10 mpg city and 13 mpg highway. That’s not surprising considering the H2’s 6,400-pound curb weight and brick-like aerodynamics match with a four-speed auto and V-8 power.

Off-Road

2006 Hummer H2
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The H2’s frame was a unique conglomeration of parts. The front and rear sections were borrowed from the Suburban 2500, while the middle section was a fully boxed section built exclusively for Hummer. The beefy frame also kept all the H2’s critical parts tucked in safely, allowing the truck to slide across rocks without fear of snagging a muffler or fuel tank. Thick skid plates kept the components further protected. Rock sliders came standard on the H2, protecting the rocker panels from off-road damage.

The front suspension was also borrowed form the 2500-series Suburban. The double wishbones were supported by a 46 mm monotube gas shock. The rear suspension again borrowed from the 2500-series ‘Burb. The 12-bolt axle was held in place by a five-link system that came standard with coil springs or the optional air bags with the air suspension system.

Price

2006 Hummer H2
- image 6158

According to a Car & Driver breakdown of the price, the 2006 H2 carried a base price of $48,800, including a $735 delivery fee. Options include the $2,215 Adventure Series package with air suspension, brush guard, six-disc CD changer, roof rack crossbars, and floor mats; the $995 sunroof; the $500 third-row seat; and $425 tubular assist steps.

Competition

2006 Toyota Land Cruiser

2006 Toyota Land Cruiser
- image 94384
Toyota Land Cruiser

For those who wanted a solid SUV with good off-road chops, but didn’t want the Schwarzenegger styling of the H2, the Toyota Land Cruiser provided a good alternative. The Land Cruiser name goes way back in Toyota history, however for 2006, the LC was nearing the end of its J100 generation. The Land Cruiser sold in the U.S. for 2006 came with Toyota’s 4.7-liter V-8 that made 275 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque.

A full-time 4WD system kept the LC plowing through deep snow, sand, and mud. Impressively, the LC also featured an Electronic Brake Force Distribution system to help keep the tall SUV stable under heavy braking.

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

2006 Hummer H2
- image 6143

The Hummer H2 was a formidable SUV in its day. It demanded attention and garnered both admiration and hatred. Perhaps the Hummer’s greatest downfall was its antithesis image to the green movement that proliferated the mid-2000s. The advent of the Toyota Prius and the eco-conscience fad that followed didn’t help either.

Still, for those more concerned about ground clearance, traction, and personal image rather than their global footprint, the H2 was the epitome of cool. The Hummer still holds that image-driven air about it to this day.

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    • * Abysmal fuel economy
    • * Limited outward visibility
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