All-new for 2006, the H3 is the third and smallest model in Hummer’s line-up. It’s built on a truck platform also used by the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, but make no mistake: this is not just a cinderblock body stuck on a little truck. Although most will never be asked to do much more than negotiate the urban jungle, the H3 is an extremely capable off-road vehicle.

The H3 is 429 mm shorter overall than the H2; it’s also 152 mm shorter in height and 165 mm narrower. Power is from a 3.5-litre Vortec inline five-cylinder, lifted straight from the Canyon/Colorado, and is the first Hummer to offer the choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

Its electronically-controlled four-wheel-drive system is augmented with a fully locking rear differential, traction control, underbody shielding and GM’s StabiliTrak stability enhancement system. There are two tire choices, a Goodyear 32-inch all-terrain tire and Bridgestone 33-inch riding on 17-inch aluminum wheels, both the largest tires available on any midsize SUV.

Even off-roaders need luxury, and the H3 is available with heated leather seats, an oversized power sunroof, and a DVD-based navigation system.

Exterior features include an aluminum front skid plate, stamped-steel front and rear bumper bars, a composite front fascia, front tow hooks and a welded-on rear bumper recovery hook. The rear swing gate has a fixed-glass window, standard rear wiper and defogger, and a full-size spare tire mounted on the gate.

Thoughtfully engineered and well-made, the H3 boasts one of the best interiors GM has ever produced, with superb fit-and-finish and high-quality materials; the optional leather seating has contrasting piping that looks like it was done by a custom trim shop.

On tight off-road courses, the H3 may be the most useful of the Hummer family; its small size and short turning radius means it can outmanoeuvre the H2, and the unavailable-in-Canada H1. But it’s not perfect. The H3’s bulk taxes the five-cylinder engine and acceleration is sluggish; a bigger engine won’t fit, and a diesel intended for the European market isn’t planned for North America. And as gas prices soar, the H3’s thirst looks even less appealing.

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