Hindsight is always 20/20. In leaner times now, the 2002-2009 Hummer H2 SUV to the delight of many is long gone from showrooms. In fact the entire Hummer division of GM which once marketed the military themed truck is now gone from our automotive landscape. Like a colorful flourish of wildflowers in a spring of plenty, they disappeared in the dry hot economic summer that followed.
While many people often of the ultra left enviro-nazi persuasion hated the Hummer H2 to the point of bizarre nuttiness, the SUV had a devout following of owners and enthusiasts. These owners such as myself each bought into the Hummer H2 for different reasons. Most Hummer H2 owners were demographically of higher incomes, had multiple other vehicles, and didn’t really care much about its gas mileage.
We bought one after also looking at a Chevrolet Tahoe, a Suburban, Cadillac Escalade and even a Range Rover. In the end our 2005 Hummer H2 just had a personality and a character to it that made spending $60,000 on what was substantively a heavy duty Chevy Tahoe somehow worth it. It looked cool, the kids loved it and it had all the room we needed for our family outings. We’d throw the keys to the folks to use it when they would fly to town and visit, which made their trip extra adventuresome.
Living with the H2 was expensive of course. Not only were the monthly payments northward of a mortgage, but feeding it was a bill that often amounted to more that its monthly payments. Ours had the average fuel economy readout on the dash that was permanently locked on 12.3 mpg the entire two years we owned it. In that time gasoline prices fluctuated anywhere from $1.49 to $3.50 a gallon. We’d spend about $90 bucks every three or four days to keep it full.
But honestly at the time we never looked at the price at the pump. Like many in the era we were making gobs of money and none of it mattered. Having an H2 was admittedly in part, a status statement. After all two of our neighbors in our gated community had one. We could not continue to drive a Mazda mini van after moving in among them. And we got that big huge tax deduction we needed to keep from writing an even bigger check to the IRS that year. Damn it was good.
Aside the superficial, the H2 had a lot offer. It was very comfortable to just climb into and drive. The leather seats and high seating position were commanding and confidence inspiring. The radiating thrum of the 6.0 liter V8 was nice underfoot, even though its 325hp really didn’t move the 8600 lb H2 all that quickly. You were best to just slog along in a relaxed manner and be comfortable with life. And press it through the wind at 80mph on the freeway? You could but it was more relaxing to just cruise along with traffic.
Off road the heavy beast handled reasonably well. Living in the desert here in Phoenix, we had plenty of times to take the H2 out into the washes and the back paths. At least every once in a while. Yes it was a bit slow to bring to a stop and you got that “whooaaa shit” feeling if you didn’t plan ahead enough in traffic. And make no mistake, panic stops in an H2 don’t go unnoticed by all those around you. In fact it got you more attention than you wanted.
One of the continued themes we saw, heard and felt as an owner of an H2 is the seething vitriol of the haters. There’s a contingent of nuts out there who hate, no….HATE the H2 for everything it stands for. To these commie freaks, it’s the poster child for capitalism gone wrong. Enviro-nuts burned them down on dealer lots, and rebels without a clue defaced them in shopping mall parking lots. They campaigned against them as if they were the devil incarnate. I had people who would go out of their way to drive up next to me and flip me off or yell obscenities just because I sat in one……regularly. We often joked that adding a Bush-Cheney bumper sticker would just be the perfect touch, but didn’t want to invite even more of it.
Of course most of these nuts were emotional liberal screw balls who didn’t have a clue. They never burned down rows of Ford Econoline vans at dealerships even though they get the same gas mileage and were made in numbers that dwarfed the H2 by the hundreds of thousands. Today they don’t go after the Ford Raptor pickup which is essentially the same thing when it comes to size and thirst. In the end it was not about the gas mileage. It was about the fact that the Hummer H2 glorified the military that really got in their craw. That was the seed of the devil to them but a badge worn proud by many owners including myself that we love America and celebrated the image of our military’s might.
In the fat times of the early 2000′s it was easy to market an overpriced, over-hyped SUV with a cheap plastic interior that costs $60,000 and gets bad gas mileage. There were plenty of people who had the disposable income and had the “what the hell” attitude to buy such a rig. Real estate companies used them to show their customers around. Tour companies used them to cart vacationers around the desert in bliss. But as times changed, pop culture turned, and gas prices shot to $4.00 a gallon the thirst for the Hummer brand literally dried up over night.
We ended up trading ours for a Ford Freestyle out of financial cost cutting that came with the collapse of our economic times. We had to tighten the belt and find more frugal wheels. As Hummer owners by the tens of thousands dumped their prized H2′s, the market for new ones evaporated. It only took a year of our financial markets in crash and gas prices high before GM went into bankruptcy and the Hummer brand was one of the first to get tossed overboard. It seems everyone involved with the Hummer from the builders to the customers were moving on.
The Hummer H2 was a vehicle that could only have come along when it did and succeeded when it did. It was without a doubt a trophy of the times, an era of unsustainable financial growth and expansion. While times have changed and our 2005 H2 is long in the memories of years ago it still holds a sweet spot in our hearts. And now that they are pretty reasonable on the used market, maybe someday it would be fun to prance in the wildflowers wheels deep once again.