Weighing in at 4,934 pounds with a 239hp 3.7L I-5 engine for an overall power-to-weight ratio of 1 hp to every 20.6 pounds, here is the '09 Hummer H3T Adventure. The H3T is the next step in the growing Hummer line, and it is hard to box in when compared to other trucks on the market. The 134.2-inch wheelbase but 85.1-inch overall width make it bigger than most midsize trucks yet smaller than most fullsizes. In addition, Hummer's H3T is battling all other trucks and 4x4s with standard full-time four-wheel drive, 32-inch tires, and functional skid shields—and front and rear locking differentials with 33-inch tires. This is the well-rounded 4x4 that Hummer has been aiming for.
Before we hit the trails, we throw every truck up on a rack and diagnose them for off-roading attributes—stuff like skidplates and tow hooks earn them points. Things like low-hanging wires or parts that might get torn off delete points. The H3T was second only to the H3 in off-road attributes. It is outfitted with all the great skidplates and tow hooks the H3 has, but the extra wheelbase, lack of rear trailer hitch, and low-hanging rear spare tire nicked it a point or two. Another odd choice is the rear spring-under axle location. Though that is great off-road, a coil-link suspension would likely have reduced weight and gained ground clearance, though we do like spring-under for the V2-ton of H3T cargo capacity.
The interior of the H3T is comfortable, modern, and well situated for off-roading. The manual transmission choice in the H3T does delete the only extra cubby that the H3 automatic has for phone storage. Though slightly better than the H3's, the seat controls are still hard to reach because of the front doors.
Though on-road ability is not a major concern of our test, we still run a fair bit of asphalt and found the H3T to be the slow kid of the posse. The I-5 has great low-end grunt, but the heavy H3T was far from a rocket ship when cruising switchback mountain roads. Other than lack of power, the only other major complaint of the H3T was breakover angle and the notorious Hummer lack of visibility from the narrow gun-slit side and front windows. On the plus side, the Hummer was praised for sending the only manual transmission of the test, as well as the only vehicles with both front and rear locking differentials.
As the H3T moved along through the off-road portion of the test, we found the five-cylinder engine to be less a hindrance than when on road. The mixture of 4:1 low range, 4.56 axle ratios, and 3.75 First gear ratio with front and rear locking differentials worked great with the 241 lb-ft of torque. The wheelbase made short work of any hillclimb we pointed it at, though the long belly sometimes hurt when cresting the top.
That same belly had us taking a weird line in the roughest rockcrawling section and resulted in a ridiculous recovery, albeit from a spot we wouldn't have dared take most of the other contenders. The high-speed and sand sections weren't as bad as we expected, mainly due to the Aisin MA5 manual trans, which could be left in Second or Third gear for the entire run. Amazingly, all the overheating issues from years past have been dealt with, as neither the H3T nor the H3 had a lick of heat issues.
Will Hummer's most useful pickup variant yet sneak by its midsize competition for its slightly longer wheelbase? Or will the lack of get-up-and-go hold it back in a test where black horse winners have been chosen in years past because of serious seat-of-the-pants power?
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