Go anywhere — the 2005 Hummer H2 SUT loves the dirt

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Coming to you now in all its brutish, breath-taking glory is the Hummer H2 with a pickup truck bed.

The giant-sized sport utility vehicle - a slightly smaller version of the original Hummer or H1 as it’s now called, was introduced in the summer of 2002 by General Motors as a 2003 model. It was offered in traditional sport utility style in ‘03 and ‘04. Now for 2005 it can also be purchased in a truck-body format called SUT, short for sport utility truck.

It still has that imposing, macho appearance that draws attention at every street corner. The only difference between the SUT and the original H2 is a diminutive 4-foot-by-3-foot truck bed attached to the four-door cabin. It is the only this small about this monster.

Granted, a cargo box this size is not going to haul a gargantuan load of supplies from Home Depot. But General Motors has put its technology to good use on the SUT outfitting it with its, now well known, Mid-gate, a movable wall at the back of the passenger compartment.

The Mid-gate was introduced a few years ago on the giant-sized Chevrolet Avalanche pickup truck and, based on sales the truck did well in the marketplace. So why not apply the same engineering to the rugged H2 for people who need the advantage of hauling things that might not fit under a roof?

Making the Hummer a larger cargo carrier with a 4-foot-by-6-foot bed through the use of the Mid-gate is as simple as powering the rear window down into the Mid-gate and then folding the Mid-gate and rear seat forward.

When the weather cooperates, the Hummer SUT comes as close to an open-air, rugged sport utility as there is on the market.

“At the push of a single button, the driver can lower all four side windows and the rear window,” explained Roger McCormack, Hummer product director. “Using a separate switch, the standard sunroof can also be opened, giving the SUT a truly open-air feeling, like driving a convertible.”

The downside, of course, comes in cold weather when you need the larger truck bed, but can do without the icy breeze coming in through the rear opening.

A giant spare tire rides on the tailgate making it necessary to unlock the tire housing and swing it out of the way to gain access to the truck bed. This may be a bit aggravating, but it surely is better than having the tire located in the bed or in some other space-grabbing location.

The H2 is truly a big, rugged sport utility that looks big and drives big inside and out.

It takes a big leap to get into the truck. Therefore, we strongly advise purchasing the optional tubular side steps ($425) for easier entry and exit.

It’s a long climb, especially for short people.

Once the climbing is over, you are ensconced behind the wheel, sitting up high and looking down on just about every other driver on the road except the guy in the 18-wheeler. It’s a macho feeling to the extreme.

With full-range 4-wheel drive, the Hummer H2, riding on massive LT315/70R-17 BF Goodrich all-terrain tires, can go anywhere a motorized vehicle can go including wadding through stream beds with up to 20 inches of water and climbing over bolder-strewn fields.

It has the high-torque muscle to pull itself out of trouble thanks to General Motors’ Vortec 6000 V-8 engine generating 325 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.

The engine is mated to a heavy-duty 4-speed automatic and a Borg-Warner 2-speed electric shift 4-wheel drive system that can reduce gear ratios when necessary for highly controlled obstacle climbing. For added control, the Hummer comes with an integrated antilock braking and traction control system.
The Hummer has been endowed with considerable under-body protection including large, thick skid plates; a fuel-tank shield; chassis-bolted rocker panel protection; a protective shield for the on-board air compressor; and mud flares that run up, over and around the wheels.

Obviously, the H2, whether in standard sport utility form or with the truck bed, is not just for looking pretty in the driveway. This big bruiser is designed for down and dirty work that your average Trailblazer, Explorer and Pathfinder are simply not capable of accomplishing.

We feel that the owner of a Hummer H2 SUT will be doing his vehicle a disservice if he (or she) doesn’t take it to the outback every so often, getting it dirty and a bit scratched.

And if you want to pull your camper behind for a home away from home when you get to the rough stuff, the H2 SUT has a towing capacity of 6,700 pounds, enough to handle an Airstream or a large boat.

One word of caution here to environmentalists and others who cringe at using the earth’s resources for something other than commuting to work, it takes a lot of gasoline to propel this 6,400-pound giant. Gas mileage figures are not provided by General Motors, but figure about 10-miles to the gallon in city driving and around 13 on the highway, based on Hummer usage over the past couple of years.

During our week of test-driving, we were impressed at how a vehicle this athletic could pamper you on the inside. Step, climb or jump as the case may be, into the H2 and you land in leather-clad luxury quarters with supportive seats and amenities galore.

Standard stuff includes heated leather seats with memory driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, stereo system with CD and cassette players and with Bose premium speakers, rear-seat audio controls, power windows and locks and keyless entry.

The entire package comes at a formidable price of $52,845. If you want more, Hummer will give you more including navigation and XM Satellite radio. Our test vehicle came with several options including air suspension, upgraded stereo, navigation and rubber bed mats. That brought the total package to $58,160.

That price is not as steep as it may seem when you realize what the Hummer can do when it leaves the pavement – just about anything (within reason).

If not inclined to drive over anything rougher than the gravel road leading to your favorite fishing hole, you would be advised to save some money and purchase a more genteel sport utility vehicle.