- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2002

Just about every story you see concerning the Hummer is either in the form of military movement on the news or one that deals with getting the thing stuck as far off the highway as possible.

I wanted to see just how easy, or difficult, the Hummer H1 would be to live with in the real world.

(Since General Motors is involved with bringing out a new, smaller version called the Hummer H2, the original has been given the designation H1.)

For one week, traveling over 1,500 miles, I took the H1 for a tour of the Pacific Northwest.

From San Francisco to Seattle, I traveled freeways, highways, city streets and small-town avenues, just to see how this beast of a vehicle would handle the everyday life. Surprisingly, it performed quite well in just about every task I asked of it.

From hauling a huge number of grocery bags and cargo from the hardware store to traveling at highway speeds, the H1 was delightful, with a few caveats.

One major trait you must overcome is the fact that it is, indeed, loud in the passenger compartment. From the roar of the big turbo-diesel engine to the growl of the large knobby tires, the Hummer is not a vehicle in which you would expect to have a normal-level conversation.

Granted, it is much quieter than earlier versions were way quieter but just the same, you must be ready to raise the level of speech and certainly the sound system to a crescendo.

That brings up a quandary. Why install a high-dollar Monsoon sound system in a vehicle that will not allow you to enjoy the high level of sound produced by the system? The answer is, buyers wanted a high-dollar system for their high-dollar vehicle.

Overcoming those features, or lack thereof, I was quite pleasantly surprised at how comfortable the Hummer became as the miles ticked by. It certainly takes commanding control of the road.

While people in passing cars stare, they are very mindful of the Hummer's size and do not venture too close.

I suspect for fear of getting run over like those sacrificial junkers set in front of a monster truck you see at the county fair.

The Hummer was also a pleasure to drive for the people you meet in the parking lot, any parking lot, in fact every parking lot.

Pull into any parking space, and you better be prepared to stay a while because the curious will not let you leave until you have answered all of their questions at least three times.

The Hummer draws a crowd like a yellow light bulb draws bugs. From the shyest little child to the old fellow who seems to like to hear himself talk, I met some interesting and friendly folks. All seemed genuinely happy that I was lucky enough to be driving this firehouse red Hummer of course, not nearly as happy as I was.

Even though this vehicle is more than seven feet wide and appears to have more room than a semi, don't look to carry any more than three of your friends. That's it for seating, four seats and lots of space between them. Although I sure was able to stuff a whole lot of junk in the back storage area. With a little tactical thinking you'll be able to get more in there than you ever imagined.

Common with most militarylike vehicles, the perception that the Hummer does not travel well is not well founded. With its big turbo-diesel engine, I was easily able to travel at highway speeds, keeping up with the noblest of luxury sedans, much to the driver's surprise.

While it may not have the acceleration, accouterments and the luxury of more common vehicles, the Hummer H1 was easy to drive and actually quite a lot of fun.

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