2006 Hummer H3 - Dirt Bike Haulers - Dirt Rider Magazine

We Dirt Rider folk are always chomping at the bit to try a new ride. After all, the old saying goes: "If it has knobbies, Dirt Rider will test it." So when General Motors offered up a brand-new Hummer H3 for us to roost around in, we quickly inspected its tires and determined that, yes, it does in fact have knobbies (sort of). But what does this little, ridiculously off-roadable, all-too-urban SUV have to do with motorcycling? Nothing. But it does have a hitch. And we have a pile of hitch-haulers.The first thing I'd like to point out when talking about the Hummer H3 is just how ridiculous this little guy is. Take a good look. It's as if the H2 and a Chevy TrailBlazer got together after some drinks and misbehaved...the H3 being the constant reminder of their beer-goggled night.While its looks (and marketing platform) are centralized around a techno-driven, sunglasses-at-night-wearing, look-at-me buyer, the H3's performance and potential is all about rocks, mud, water and steep, steep hills. Its off-road bias is clearly evident in the full-time four-wheel-drive, standard 32-inch tires, 8-plus inches of ground clearance and torque-heavy engine character. It's as if GM has taken a Magic Marker and drew a big target on a Jeep.While driving the H3 you notice a few things. The on-road ride, for an SUV designed to drive over a pile of logs, is actually quite good. It's smooth and ultraquiet. The wheel has a beefy feel that almost begs to be yanked off the road and up a mountain or through a river. Off-road the ride is just as nice. It gobbles up big bumps and only starts to chatter when you get into some serious washboards.The five-speed manual transmission in our test vehicle was solid, and its interactivity with the drive train was secure as we torqued through deep rain ruts. The engine isn't a horsepower monster (Vortec 3500 inline five-cylinder rated at 220 horsepower), but off-road it's manageable and more than adequate. The torque (225 foot-pounds) is great.On-road, the H3 looses some of its luster. While commuting to our favorite off-road grounds, we had to drive on the freeways of Southern California for about three hours. At highway speeds, the weight, full-time 4WD and aerodynamic deficiencies start to tax the powerplant, requiring consistent uphill downshifts. Also, the small windshield and tiny side windows can make the interior space feel cramped for bigger individuals. We did, however, fit right in as we drove through Hollywood with the sweet beats of techno pounding out of the XM Satellite Radio. The only thing that made us stand out was the motorcycle mounted to the rack out back.What we learned from the H3 is simple: If you live off-road, the H3 makes sense, especially if you have to climb a 60-degree slope to get home. And if you're the type of buyer who throws reason to the wind and wants a Hummer for a daily driver and the occasional weekend trip to the track or trail, you can still wing it with one of today's hitch-mounted motorcycle haulers. Proving that no matter how impractical your car may be, you don't have to sacrifice riding your dirt bike.