Hummer Is Back (H3T Upgrades & Review) | Inside Line
It’s the shortest-lived midsized truck in modern history and one of the coolest. It’s the Hummer H3T. With GMC reimagining the Hummer brand with the all-new Hummer EV, we decided to take a look back at the last truck offering ever to come out of the Hummer camp. Over its two short years of production, the Hummer H3T brought some of the coolest off-road appointments ever put in a midsized truck. This included a V8, front and rear selectable lockers, and a 4:1 transfer case.
On paper, it was a total win, but there were some serious shortcomings (torsion bar suspension, anyone?). On this Inside Line, we’re taking a look at a 2009 Hummer H3T. We’re not only digging into the good and the bad of these trucks in stock form but we are taking a challenge from our modern playbook by seeing what it takes to run a 35-inch-tall tire on this platform. After all, it’s often referred to (jokingly of course) as the father of the Jeep Gladiator. So, it seems only fitting we should make a few comparisons.
35s, No Lift
We’re sure we’ll catch some heat from some diehard H3T owners out there over this. First, let us start off by saying, that it does in fact appear that you can run a 35-inch-tall tire with no lift on the H3T if you are willing to stay on the stock 16-inch wheel. The challenge with doing so is that the tire options for a 16x7.5 are more limited. With that being the case, a new set of tires and wheels were installed (more on those in a minute). Technically, this combo was drivable on the street with only minor rubbing, but there wasn’t enough room for it to cycle off-road.
To give the tires a little more breathing room as well as level out the vehicle, a Rough Country 2.5-inch lift was used. While this kit is designed for the H3, it works fine on the H3T. It’s comprised of a set of spacers and rear shackle (note the rear shackle was not used). The spacers are placed on the front shock strut and between the head of the torsion bar bolt and torsion key landing pad. Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina, was tapped to do the install and subsequent alignment that was needed.
H3T to H3T
Just to give you an idea on sizing, the H3T on the right is completely stock with a 31-inch-tall tire. Though the wheelwells on the H3T are a bit squared off, the do allow for a sizeable tire upgrade.
Gladiator vs H3T
We had to at least make one side-by-side comparison between the Jeep Gladiator and H3T. While both have seven-slot grilles, four-doors, and body-on-frame construction, that’s where the similarities end. For reference, the Rubicon edition Gladiator on the left is running the same 35x12.50R17 as the H3T. The main difference is the Jeep is not leveled or lifted. Fun fact- GM was actually sued by Jeep over the use of a seven-slot grille, but won the battle in court. While Jeep is known for it’s classic seven-slot grille layout, not all Jeeps were fit with a seven-slot grille. This is more notable in the earlier days of the brand.
It’s an 11-year-old dash from GM. Yes, it’s a bit dated. That being said, we don’t mind it. The less is more vibe works for the Hummer platform. It’s also worth noting that the cloth seats in these seem to hold up substantially better than ones equipped with leather.
If there has been one common issue that we’ve learned from being around used H3’s and H3T’s is that those equipped with a sunroof often leak. Thankfully, it’s a fairly easy fix as the culprit more often than not is a clogged drain line. While a quick Google search will yield you dozens of How-To fixes for this issue, all you need to know is that you’ll need a basic trim tool and a drill (to open out the clogged hose end).
The H3T had a mix of great and terrible ideas when it came to the bed. Overall, at 58.8 inches, it’s a very usable bed in many regards. Though we like the rail system and extra storage box as this one has, the factory bed storage compartments are downright worthless. One area that we found does not age well are the composite liners that run throughout the floor and walls of the bed. If the bed spent most of its life uncovered, you are likely to find these plastic members not only faded but swollen and slightly misshapen. This bed happened to have a cover on it most of its life, hence why even with over 110,000 miles on the truck, the bed is still in good shape.
The most common powerplant for both the H3 and H3T was the 3.7L Inline-five. When combined with the full-time transfer case, it’s not the most impressive, but it gets the job done. Yes, an Alpha version with the 5.3L would be more ideal as 300 ponies under the hood is better than 239. However, the inline-five cylinder isn’t terrible thanks to the fact that the H3T came fit with 4.56 differential gears from the factory. By today’s standards, even the V8 version’s 0-60 times are bested by the V6 powered Jeep Gladiator.
Center Line Grapplers
As we mentioned earlier, one of the first upgrades to this H3T came by way of a nicer set of tires and wheels. Since this truck owner wanted a more aggressive look and performing tire over a traditional all-terrain tire, it was fit with Nitto’s hybrid series tire called the Ridge Grappler. It fits nicely between the traditional all-terrain and mud-terrain by taking performance ques for each of the Nitto’s most popular Light Truck tires.
Of course, to get the 35x12.50R17’s wrapped around something a bit more contemporary, a set of 17x9 Centerline Wheels were used. These extremely strong and lightweight cast aluminum 850 Atlas wheels provide a nice balance of offset to the vehicle. While looks always play a role in a wheel and tire package, it is worth noting that this wheel set took little to no weight to balance. For those looking for specs, the wheels have 4.53 inches of back spacing with a -12 offset.
In The Dirt
There are a few takeaways from our time spent behind the wheel off-road in the Hummer H3T. We’ve driven these vehicles in stock configuration in the dirt before and having a 35-inch-tall tire with the added lift height definitely makes the 134-inch wheelbase not as much of a hinderance. While this particular truck won’t be don’t much rock crawling in the southeast, that’s not to say that these can’t. In fact, for those chasing more off-road performance, we would recommend searching for a model with the Adventure package. This will get you front and rear selectable lockers, a 4:1 transfer case, and steel rocker guards. For light wheeling, our 2009 tester was very competent. The stock low range is more than ample to provide the extra gear reduction when need. Sure, a selectable rear locker or two would help, but the added grip from the tires made short work of our local trails.
On The Level
The biggest issue you’ll find with leveling the H3T is that off-road you will quickly learn you have little down travel. This causes the front suspension to top out and equates to a bouncy and rough ride at times. Dropping your speed and airing down helps tremendously with this. On-road, it’s worth mentioning that aside from being a little firmer, it handles and drives very well. Surprisingly, we found it had no trouble keeping overdrive on the highway, even at speeds of 70 mph.
If you’re wanting to learn more about this platform and our time with it, we highly recommend you heading over to our YouTube channel and watching the video version of this article. There, you can watch this forgotten vehicle get to work and learn more about the unicorn of the midsized truck world.
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