2006 Hummer H3
2006 Hummer H3; photo by Jil McIntosh. Click image to enlarge
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General Motors of Canada

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By Chris Chase

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The original Hummer, the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle developed by AM General, earned celebrity status through its high-profile use in the Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) of 1990-1991, and then by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who liked it so much he had to have one.

AM General capitalized on the publicity by selling a civilian version, the H1, starting in 1992. General Motors would buy the Hummer brand name in 1998, and began selling the H2, a lighter-duty model based on GM full-size pickup platform architecture, in 2002.

2006 brought an even smaller Hummer model, the H3; predictably enough, this one was based on the compact Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon pickup platform. Initially, the H3 used the same 3.5-litre five-cylinder engine that served as the uplevel choice in the Colorado and Canyon, rated at 220 hp/225 lb-ft of torque, and could be mated with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

2006 Hummer H3
2006 Hummer H3; photo by Jil McIntosh. Click image to enlarge

In response to complaints that the 3.5-litre engine wasn’t powerful enough (in both the H3 and the pickups), GM upsized the five-cylinder to 3.7-litres in 2007, boosting power output to 242 hp/242 lb-ft.

If the larger five-cylinder wasn’t enough power, the 2008 model year brought with it the solution: the H3 Alpha model, powered by GM’s 5.3-litre V8, with 300 hp/320 lb-ft, which was offered only with the four-speed automatic transmission.

For 2009, GM added the H3T to the lineup, a four-door (crew cab) pickup with a five-foot bed. For 2010, the only significant change was the addition of variable valve timing to the V8 engine. By the time the 2010s reached the market, the Hummer brand had been dropped from the then “new GM” and 2010 models were available only until inventory sold out.

2009 Hummer H3T
2009 Hummer H3T; photo by Howard Elmer. Click image to enlarge

The H3’s fuel consumption ratings in 2006 were 14.7/11.4 L/100 km (city/highway) with the automatic transmission, and 15.6/10.9 with the manual. The 2007 model’s larger engine may have helped performance, but that came at the expense of thirst for fuel, which increased to 15.7/11.5 L/100 km with the automatic and 16.3/11.2 with the manual transmission.

A 2008 model with the newly-available 5.3-litre V8 was rated at 16.6/12.6 L/100 km. In 2009, the five-cylinder’s fuel consumption improved to 14.7/11.0 L/100 km with the automatic and 15.0/10.9 l/100 km when fitted with the manual. A 2010 version with the variable valve timing V8 sounds like it should achieve better gas mileage, but doesn’t, being rated at 16.5/12.4 L/100 km.

2009 Hummer H3T
2009 Hummer H3T; photo by Howard Elmer. Click image to enlarge

The H3 earns Consumer Reports’ ‘worse than average’ used vehicle reliability designation, thanks to a number of mostly minor issues.

The most serious is that of cylinder head trouble with the five-cylinder engine related to a problem in the casting process that resulted in bad valve guides, which can cause a number of driveability issues. Read about it in these three threads at HummerForums.com, here, here, and over here.

Water leaks into the interior are a common complaint on both the H3 and the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups on which the Hummer is based. Read these threads (here and here) at ColoradoFans.com.

Consumer Reports notes problems with the H3’s all-wheel drive system. The details reveal two issues: one is the loud “thunk!” the truck’s transfer case makes when shifting into 4-Low, which is apparently normal. The other is the frequent appearance of a “service 4WD soon” warning message, which prevents 4-Low from being engaged via the electronic dash switch. The cause, according to this thread at GMHummer.com, is any one of a number of things ranging from a software issue, to chafed wiring and sticky 4WD switches.

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