SAN FRANCISCO: Buying a Hummer is like having a baby. You can never afford one, but
they're fun to look at and play with. And they're also loud, uncomfortable and by the end
of the first month, the newness wears off. So, why do couples continue to have babies, and
why does the AM General Hummer continue to be a hot item for the rich and famous?
I guess there's nothing like holding a baby that you helped create. And I guess there's
nothing like barreling down the highway in basically the same vehicle that Arnold
Schwarzenegger, Karl Malone, Andre Agassi and thousands of soldiers drive.
The Hummer is the civilian version of the Humvee, which is the vehicle of choice for
the United States armed forces. I drove a four-door hardtop, one of four models available
to the general public.
While the military version of this go-anywhere, do-anything monster offers just what's
necessary for troops to do battle on any kind of terrain, the civilian rendition offers
luxuries like a six-disc CD changer, Monsoon stereo system, cruise control, power door
locks and remote keyless entry.
And when I say monster, I mean it. The Hummer is nearly 7 feet wide, weighs more than 3
tons and has a whopping 16 inches of ground clearance. It's powered by the General Motors,
which recently acquired AM General, 6.5-liter turbo diesel. A V8 that puts out 190
horsepower at 3,400 rpm with a maximum torque rating of 430 pounds at a surprisingly low
1,800-rpm. Which does wonders for your 0-30 mph times. If that sounds like the Hummer
shortchanges you in the power department, think again. Granted, it takes a week to get
from 0-60 mph actually, 18 seconds but GM's diesel is a dependable
With its slow and methodical approach to the roadway, the Hummer is not a speeding
ticket waiting to happen. But with its size, you do have worry about crashing into curbs,
fire hydrants and small cars. I did laugh, however, when I read on the Hummer's website
that "it handles more like a sports car than a truck." I've driven a few sports
cars Porsche, NSX, Corvette and the Hummer handles nothing like one of these
Then, there's the exterior. You won't go unnoticed on a city street and that's
the good part about being behind the wheel of the attention getting Hummer. Although the
expansive vehicle looks like it could hold a small army, most of the interior space is
taken up by the enormous tunnel that houses the GM 4L80-E 4-speed automatic transmission
and transfer case.
With a 16-inch ground clearance and 75-inch total vehicle height, that leaves 59 inches
from top to bottom inside the cab. Compare that to a Suburban, which is about the same
height, but offers just 10 inches of ground clearance.
But driving it for more than a few days is asking for a sore back and ringing eardrums.
And as far as noise goes, Im real glad AM General installs deluxe heat and sound
insulation materials in its Hummers. Any more noise and I think I would have gone deaf.
But I will admit that the four-door hardtop is less noisy than the Hummer wagon, which
I drove last year. With a smaller interior, the four-door hardtop has less space than the
wagon for the engine and transmission noise to reverberate in.
So, does the lack of comfort make up for the prestige factor? Before I answer that,
there are a few other features about the Hummer you should know about. The Central Tire
Inflation System allows you inflate and deflate all four tires, making the Hummer a true
off-road killer. If you decide to make a trek across the Mojave or Death Valley deserts,
you can deflate the Hummer's tires and glide along effortlessly. Or if you get bogged down
in a mud hole, inflate them all up again and off you go.
Another cool features is the 18-gallon auxiliary fuel tank to compliment the main
25-gallon tank. Switching from one tank to the other is as easy as flipping a switch
literally. And thats 43 gallons total. Just hope diesel fuel stays under two
bucks a gallon. It costs about $75.00 to fill the dual tanks on a Hummer today. But if
youre rich and famous, who cares?
As you can see, the true attraction to the Hummer should be in its off-road
capabilities not its unique appearance that will draw crowds and comments. Hummer
says "most 4x4s' off-road success is 50 percent the machine's capability and 50
percent the driver's skill. The Hummer's prowess is more 90 percent machine and 10 percent
driver." I can easily believe that statement because of the Hummer's solid
construction and off-road features.
So, is all this enough to make up for the lack of comfort? There has got to be a
thousand reasons not to buy a Hummer, just like there are a thousand reasons not to have a
baby. But once you have a baby, people look at you differently. And once you have a
Hummer, you can have so much fun in showing off your new toy, that I guess that answers
the question. By J. Eric Eckard © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Hummer Home Page
Byline: By J. Eric Eckard © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name: "Buying a Hummer is like Having a Baby"
Topic: 2000 AM General Hummer
Word Count: 893
Photo Caption: 2000 AM General Hummer
Photo Credits: AM General Internet Media
Series #: 2000 - 29
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