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I miss the Hummer H2

Robby DeGraff October 4, 2018 All Things Hoon, Hooniversal Opinion 37 Comments

I graduated from high school ten years ago in the proud class of 2008, a year before Hummer pulled the plug on its ginormous H2 and two years before the brand itself was buried away in a graveyard alongside Saturn and Pontiac. You know those cars that you just don’t want to love, but, you shamelessly do? That’s how I feel about the H2, and honestly I have no real justification or reason as to why. Sure my tastes and lusts in automobiles have I think, well, matured over the years, but yes my almost-30 self still hopes to have my name on the title to an H2 someday. 

The inspiration for taking time to sit down and write about one of GM’s most absurd, obnoxious vehicles ever built comes from a realization I had yesterday morning while commuting to work: I have yet to see an H2 that looks like crap, even with some on the road approaching almost 15-years-old now. They’ve aged well, and every single H2 I’ve spotted looks immaculate, free of rust, free of any kind of body damage, free of any loose hanging suspension or exhaust components- all flawless. Compare this to almost any other vehicle that’s seen upwards of nearly two decades worth of road wear and tear, and it’s really surprised me. I’m convinced that Hummer owners are some of the most loyal and dedicated to the tireless upmost upkeep of their beloved boxy gems.

Contracted by GM, AM General built the H2 from 2003 until 2009 on a platform somewhat shared with other full-size, successful badge-engineered giants like the Sierra, Escalade, Suburban, Silverado, Avalanche, and Yukon. Its front half was essentially a tweaked 2500HD frame and back a regular 1500. Power came from a 6.0-liter V8 and later a 6.2-liter that burped almost 400 horsepower. It was wide, tall, heavy, filled to the brim with testosterone, and screamed Amurica’. While it had the pedigree, tech, and swagger to confidently humiliate nearly any off-road environment thrown at it, the majority of the 153,000-ish H2s sold probably found duties strictly adhered to pavement only, which is sad in my humble opinion.

I remember when the H2 first launched thinking they were so, so, so cool. A military-esque, 4×4 warrior wearing refined classy clothing. When I was thirteen, a friend’s parents surprised our middle school friend group and rented a white H2 limo for a Saturday afternoon of cruising around the north suburbs of Milwaukee. I remember thinking how awesome it was that you could recognize a Hummer dealership by its grand “H” out front and off-road test track in the back. I remember at some mid 2000s Chicago International Auto Show, buying a dark blue Hummer hooded sweatshirt and later a yellow die-cast of an H2. In college during my summer jaunts as a valet, I remember driving a customer’s H2 for a few minutes. Apart from it reeking like weed and strong cologne, it roared its way to the parking garage which was absolutely terrifying to fit inside. Ever see a H2 attempt to navigate bumper-to-bumper traffic in rush-hour? It’s adorable. It’s like trying to watch a huge fat, shark hunt its way through a coral reef.

Hummer H2s sold for almost $60,000 brand-new, and today most still have an impressive resale value. A quick search on Cars.com turned up over a 1,000 used H2s on the market, many with high prices linked with high mileage. For example a 2009 H2 with 81,140 commands $39,999 while a 2009 loaded with 210,992 miles calls for $21,770. one of t the cheapest H2s I could find is currently on sale for $8,995 with 222,543 miles and a bad-ass roof rack. To me, that’d be a fun, easy addition to a dream garage.

So to all those lucky to still proudly own an H2; I salute you in awe and appreciation, for keeping a ride that always makes me smile, looking like it rolled off the showroom floor only yesterday.

What relics from the past do you still see driving around and mysteriously continuously look clean?

  • Ben_Wojdyla

    It was the H3T Alpha that did it for me. Really great little truck for heavy ORV and light work. A bit thirsty, but awesome.

    • That very short period of time was very interesting for GM. They had cars like the H3T, Solstice, SSR, Pontiac G8, and a few others. All of those will become classics.

    • Ross Ballot

      I’ll take a normal-body H3 Alpha, thank you. The T was neat, especially with the wild optional bed cap, but it was a bit out of propotion for my liking. The regular H3Alpha was the shit. I still look at them once-in-a-while.

  • P161911

    I’m still convinced that there are more H2s that have been made into limos than H2s that have been taken off road.

    The H2 looks really cool…on paper. It somehow manages to take that huge model and have a rather small interior. I remember going over them when they first came out. (I designed the aftermarket vent visors for them.) I realized that somehow they seemed to have less room inside than my old K5 Blazer. Less passenger room and much less cargo room. The third row seat was a joke, especially with an interior mounted spare. It left you enough cargo space for a small backpack.

    I wouldn’t mind looking for one when they get below $5k though.

  • SlowJoeCrow

    I remember looking one over at an auto show and thinking I could put Rancho suspension and locking differentials in a Tahoe for less money and fewer raised middle fingers. (does anybody remember the FUH2 movement?)

    The H2 perfectly symbolizes the GWB era zeitgeist of exceptionalism, egotism and hucksterism and unlike the OG Hummer H1 wasn’t particularly capable off road and was a reverse Tardis, combining the footprint of a Tahoe with the interior space of a Trailblazer. The SUT crew cabs were even worse, since the bed was the size of one Rubbermaid Action Packer box.

    • P161911

      The Trailblazer offered much better cargo space, probably the same legroom, just less shoulder room.

    • HuntRhymesWith

      In defense of the H2, the H1 has very little usable interior space, possibly less than an H2. I’ve never been in an H2 though so I can’t really say.

      • SlowJoeCrow

        The H1 has an excuse, because the drivetrain is tucked up into the passenger compartment for better ground clearance, hence the enourmous center tunnel.. The H2 has no excuse because it has a conventional BOF layout and is more cramped than the Tahoe it shared a platform with. FWIW the H2 also shared its platform with the Cadillac Escalade

        • HuntRhymesWith

          This thread is really making me want one of those Tahoes you describe. I wonder how a lifted, locking diff Tahoe would be as a tow rig.

          • SlowJoeCrow

            I think lifted and tow rig are somewhat contradictory but there is a lot of kit out there for the GMT800 family https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GMT800. There was even a company that built 3/4 ton diesel Suburbans and Tahoes with the drivetrain and front chassis from freight damaged 2500 pickups

  • neight428

    The GM idea people are good folks with interesting concepts; the folks that turn them into reality are insanely good at justifying commercial production of these ideas by carving out the good stuff and leaving only the downsides.

    Jeep has been begging for a competitor forever, and once a real company decided to make a go of it, they rummaged through their parts bin, made the end result slightly worse than existing products and then gave the brand one new product following the same formula over 8 years.

  • Zentropy

    When you were in high school, I was working for a company that bought an H2 as a promotional vehicle, with a full wrap, cool wheels, etc. It saw some use on the weekends, but during the work week it just sat out front. One day, a couple of co-workers urged me to ask the CEO if we could borrow it to run out to lunch, and (affable guy that he was) he said “Sure!”. We were all stoked… until we drove it.

    I was never so disappointed in a vehicle. As a former CJ-7 owner I can appreciate spartan interiors, but this truck just screams cheap. It was like someone removed everything pleasing about driving a Tahoe, and installed a giant Coleman cooler (and some Playskool bits) around what was left. The H1 was interesting because it was rugged, different, and true to its mission. The H2 and H3 were posers. GM didn’t kill Hummer– they just let it die.

    • 0A5599

      I remember when pretty much every business that had a youthful customer base (music, mobile electronics, aftermarket rims, etc.) had an H1 in the parking lot for promotional value, and then as soon as the H2 came out it was like someone flipped a switch. The H1 became fishwrap, and dealerships got rid of remaining inventory by giving buyers a free sedan for the nanny with each purchase of an H1.

    • Victor

      Are there any vehicles you DO like ?

      • Zentropy

        That’s actually pretty funny. Yes I like many vehicles, including the Tahoe on which the H2 was based. The problem was that GM took a good truck platform and put an image-focused body on it. The classic CJs, H1s, Gelandewagens, and Defenders were cool because they were function-focused, so no one minded (and eventually even appreciated) their resultant spartan interiors and minimalist exterior styling. GM tried to artificially replicate that concept, but it came off as “cheap” rather than “minimalist”, and they added insult to injury by charging people more money for less product.

        • Victor

          You were griping about the ride in a sports car today. C/4 rides rough ? Buy a Cadillac ! they ride smooth !

          • Zentropy

            Lol I don’t mind the ride of modern sports cars, but the C4 was intolerably rough.

            • crank_case

              Depends on the definition of “sports car” of course, but I reckon a lot of modern sports cars ride better than older stuff, while ironically, a lot of luxury cars and GTs ride worse because everyone needs 20 inch rims and Nurburging lap times.

              • Zentropy

                True that. Modern GTs ride far harsher than those of the past. They’re trying to live up to a standard they’re not even measured against!

      • Zentropy

        Incidentally, I like almost everything made from 1939 to 1969, with a particular affection for postwar-through-1954 GM cars, 1960-1969 Fords, and American Motors in general (I’m used to taking flak for that). I also like virtually any station wagon, most pickups prior to 1979, 60s/70s Econolines, and second-gen Corvairs. From the 70s/80s I like BMWs, Mercedes, and Volvos. I also like many Japanese cars of the 70s.

        I admittedly don’t have huge favorites in current vehicles, but I think Volvo, Mazda, and KIA are doing good work, while BMW has sacrificed their “ultimate driving machine” reputation for sales numbers. I generally think new car styling is awful, though there are some exceptions. I hate front-wheel-drive as an almost universal rule. I strongly prefer true manual transmissions, but admit that they’re not ideal for every vehicle’s mission.

        So, if I seem to come off as particularly critical, I have plenty of targets for anyone to take shots at. I don’t mind at all, fire away. I welcome the opportunity to reconsider my opinions.

  • tonyola

    A lot of people bought Hummer H2s for “business” because of a huge tax break (like around $38,000 according to the referenced article) for vehicles over 6,000 pounds. They’re no longer a common sight now here in Miami.
    https://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/It-s-not-just-a-Hummer-it-s-a-tax-break-1105474.php

  • smalleyxb122

    I never liked the H2. I still don’t particularly like the H2… but I want one. More specifically, I want to build an overland-style camper out of one. With my Saturn, Pontiac, and Saab, I’ve got a defunct-GM-marque thing going in my fleet, and I want a camper. Hummer is the best candidate for that.

    The only other real option for an off-road camper out of a defunct GM branded vehicle is the Bravada, but I already have a GMT360 with my Trollblazer (but I’m not about to cut up my 9-7x Aero).

    I prefer the interior of the H3, but I don’t want the I5, and I don’t want to cut up an H3 Alpha. Perhaps I will build my own “Alpha” with an LS swap. Of course, if I’m willing to live with the sad little five cylinder, I could get it with a manual.

  • Sjalabais

    Very few of these made it to Europe. Weight, pollution and displacement taxation brought these up to 200k$ new in Norway – for a crapcan with the touch and feel of a Playskool toy, that wouldn’t fit into any parking spaces, and that wouldn’t let you off the hook for negative attention every single time you use it. That in itself is pretty amazing, but people who bought these had Kim Yong Un levels of self-confidence and FU-attitude. A decade on, it’s less intuitive what all the fuzz was about.

    • crank_case

      I believe all the hippety hop chaps liked them, as was the style at the time.

    • Dabidoh_Sambone

      Funny thing is, I think you’re being overly diplomatic in your assessment of the H2.

  • Alff

    Been married more than twenty years. I, too, miss the hummer.

    • Zentropy

      Damn, isn’t that the sad truth?

  • Maymar

    There’s a small part of me that’s a little disappointed you couldn’t get a Tahoe equivalent to the H2, but then the GMT800’s were still a little cheap and nasty inside. I guess it’s less bad though in a relatively “honest” truck instead of a blatant status symbol.

    I do hold a soft spot for the H3 though, even if the I5 was thoroughly overmatched by a nearly 5000lbs truck.

    • P161911

      I never understood why the H3 wasn’t built on the Trailblazer platform with the Atlas I-6. The I-5 in those baffled me too. Later Atlas engines were up to 295HP.

      • smalleyxb122

        The H3 absolutely should have been on the GMT360 (Trailblazer) platform instead of the Colorado, but the H3T would have probably gotten a less useful bed, since they would likely have just built it on an unmodified GMT370 (Trailblazer EXT) frame, instead of the lengthened GMT355.

  • I remember riding shotgun in an H2 in about… 2009 probably. About all I knew about it was that it was expensive, so I was surprised to find my knees jammed up against the dashboard. The seat may have been able to slide back further, but the impression it made was not good.

  • HuntRhymesWith

    Matt Farah should get one to pair with his gold G-shock watch for the ultimate military bling getup.