2009 H3T Pickup - First Drive

Story By Michael Cohn
Photos By Michael Cohn , GM

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OK, so you get it now.  It’s a new pickup from the HUMMER gang. Just what everyone wants these days – another pickup. Big deal, right? Well, yeah, right!

When HUMMER slaps their name on something it needs to live up to a certain blood line – one that kicks ass and takes names. The H3 SUV already does that. We’d be happy to hit the trails in one any day. But how do you ensure that a pickup version can do the same?

HUMMER H3TWell, they took the project very seriously.  HUMMER paid close attention to the details. For example, the spare tire had to be relocated underneath since the H3T has a tailgate.  The engineers stared at it long enough to realize that it will get in the way off-road and drag. So they figured out a way to tuck it up at an angle, reducing the surface area likely to smack the ground.

They also gave it a very complete set of skid plates and functional rocker guards so when the driver hears all that nasty banging, clanking and scraping underneath, they can shrug it off and keep on going down the trail.

The H3 SUV already had an electric locking differential in the rear. This year, both the H3 and the new H3T get an additional front locker when the Off-Road Adventure package is chosen.  This package also gets the owner a 4.03:1 transfer case vs. the standard 2.64:1.  Couple this to a 4.56 or 4.10 (Alpha) axle gear ratio and you’ve got one heck of a nice crawler right from the factory.  The 5.3L, for example, would net a 50.6 crawl ratio  (1st gear 3.06 x 4.03 t-case x 4.10 axle).  Keep in mind that slow-poke I-5 H3T with 4.03 t-case would get a 69:1 crawl ratio!  (1st gear manual  3.75 x 4.03 t-case x 4.56 axle).

Suspension consists of nice, flexy leaf springs in the rear and independent front suspension. Now let’s not get into the whole IFS argument here. IFS works great on the road and off-road it’s really coming of age.


While there’s lots to be said for keeping all four wheels on the ground (always a good thing), IFS is not the end of the world. The H3T gets plenty of droop and what it lacks in wheel-to-ground contact it makes up for with a great combination of lockers and traction control.  It’s really really hard to get one of these things stuck unless you just plain bottom out on something.  We tried!

All the traction doo-dads worked great. HUMMER had us on an off-road savvy press trip so they took us on a really nice trail which we all complimented them on. While many companies take you to a very controlled, just barely difficult trail so they can show you how well their vehicles work, these guys let us go to town on some real stuff.  Yes, we actually had to use low-range the whole time and those lovely lockers were engaged plenty.

The H3T tackled it all with aplomb – it’s only real deficit being it’s length.  We will say, though, that it had a very nice turning circle of 43.8’ – just a few inches more than the SUV version’s 37’.  So we managed to get it through some pretty tight spots without having to back up and reposition ourselves.


Finally, HUMMER paid careful attention to the underside angles, so the H3T wouldn’t be it’s own worst enemy on the trails.  With the optional 33” tires, approach angle is about 39 degrees, while breakover and departure angles come in at 20 and 31.  Compare the breakover and departure to the H3 SUV’s 22 and 24 degrees.  Not bad at all!

So who’s going to buy this thing?  Oh, the list that comes to our minds is huge. Sure, there are the usual worker-bees – the construction guys, for example. But being in the Sierra mountains during forest fire season made me instantly think of the US Forestry Service or the park services.  These guys have to get up the same trails that you and I like to go play on, right?  Well, with an H3T, they could get their crew and all of their gear where they needed it easily – on or off-road. The same can be said for border patrols, road crews, etc.


But HUMMER’s money is on the weekend warriors and outdoors crowd. Their own lead designer fashioned the bed to hold his bikes for his weekend motocross events. With all of the different racks they plan on selling, carrying bikes, rafts, tents, ATVs or making those all-important trips to the local d-i-y warehouse will be a piece of cake, while coddling the whole family comfortably inside.

The HUMMER H3T has all the braun of a workaday pickup and the comfort of a well-endowed SUV. It looks awesome in person and oozes masculinity.

Unfortunately for GM, their timing couldn’t be worse to bring out a new truck. But for you adventure types out there who either want or actually need an extremely capable pickup and that Prius just won’t do the trick, the 2009 HUMMER H3T should definitely be on your short list when it hits the dealerships this fall.

Great looks, incredible functionality and kick-ass attitude earn the H3T huge marks from us. Bring it on!




Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn is the founder and Editor of ROCKCRAWLER.com. Michael finds great pleasure in driving other peoples' vehicles and doesn't always drive with his mouth open. To volunteer your rig for abuse, please contact Michael at comments@rockcrawler.com.




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