- The Washington Times - Friday, November 1, 2002

If really, really serious off-roading is in the plans, the 2003 General Motors-marketed Hummer 2 or H2 should be at or near the top of the list of possibilities.

Heavy-duty civilian vehicles don't come any tougher.

Fear not, however, if you are simply looking for a statement-making vehicle that isn't going to be in every other parking space. You won't have to forgo comfort and the safety level certainly is up there.

The noteworthy trade-offs are that entry and exit are a stretch (step up measures more than a foot, a result of its high ground clearance), and the 81.2-inch width means narrow traffic lanes and compact parking spaces can be a test for most drivers.

As many evaluations note, there are far more luxurious and comfortable SUVs out there at very competitive prices.

The test H2 totaled $52,510 and had $3,710 of options adding to its base price of $48,065 (plus $735 delivery).Looked at from the standpoint of safety, that's a small price to pay for the security the H2 can bring.

There's not much worry about other drivers not seeing or ignoring the H2, and there's no reason to think it won't work for its occupants if worse comes to worst.

Note, however, that no side air bags are available, just standard side-impact beams.

Traction control and anti-lock disc brakes are standard, and the latter can be very reassuring if the H2 is used in heavy traffic.

Acceleration is cut by its mass, despite the H2's 316-horsepower V-8's willingness. Zero to 60 mph is somewhere around 10 seconds.

The transmission, a four-speed automatic with electronic transfer case, is a smooth one. The V-8 supplies some 385 foot-pounds of torque, and it doesn't take much off-roading to convince anyone that the H2 can ascend or descend pretty much any terrain its driver is willing to tackle.

Inside, the flat-roofed H2, which is 77.8 inches tall, offers a good degree of comfort. The dash and the controls are straightforward if dated, and the test H2's optional Bose sound system was easily capable of making you unaware of tire hum and other external noises.

The reality is that most people with no experience with the larger original Humvee are going to be amazed at the combination of the H2's go-anywhere ability and ride-in-comfort interior. It's not exactly an everyday vehicle, unless the outback is home, but the H2 is a vehicle that is easily appreciated in those settings for which it is intended.

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