1999 Hummer (238)

I could write a book about this Hummer that will have you humming a different tune from run-of-the-mill vehicles out there. But I’ll try to keep it brief. For starters, what do you call it? Some say it shouldn’t be allowed on the street. It doesn’t look street legal, but it is. It’s a SUV, but more appropriately it is a SPV (special purpose vehicle).

Further, I think its adaptation is for the rich and foolish. Who else would shell out seventy or eighty grand to own one? It reminds me of The Village People singing, …macho, macho man. On the other hand, if you have a job to do out on the range under tough conditions and no one to impress, it can make sense. But on the streets of Beverly Hills, it’s a fish out of water.

Rumor is that Stalone and Schwartzeneger have Hummers. And its no rumor that my eccentric neighbor in the high desert of Acton has one and I still don’t know why. I guess the price of being different takes odd twists from time to time. A Rolls Royce by comparison is common place. In my youth we wore jellyroll and duck tail haircuts, T-shirts with Camel cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve, Levi jeans and “bomber” shoes. We’d put “cut-outs” on our car or truck exhaust systems, just because. It was all the rage and when “uncorked” the noise was enough to drown out even the “boom-box low riders” of today. You might want to try that today. Put them on your Beemer and uncork them the next time you pull up to a stop beside one of those obnoxious kids. They remind me of me at that age. How revolting. Sorry mom and dad, it must have been all those Bob’s Big Boy hamburgers we ate back then.

In any case if it’s different you want, this Hummer, built by AM General Corporation will deliver head-turning looks from virtually everyone, even though demographics say only men buy these “bad boy, macho machines”.

I don’t know if any comparison exists, but let’s look at some Stats of the Hummer next to Jeep Wrangler and Range Rover.

Hummer                     Wrangler                      Range Rover

Curb Weight         6640 lbs.                      3272 lbs.                      4960 lbs.

Wheelbase             130 in                      93.4 in.                        108.1 in.

Track Front            71.6 in.                          58 in.                          60.6 in.

Track Rear          71.6 in.                          58 in.                          60.2 in.

Length                 184.5 in.                          152 in.                        185.5 in.

Width                   86.5 in.                       66.7 in.                          74.4 in.

Height                   76.8 in.                       70.8 in.                           71.6 in.

Ground Clearance    16 in.                           10.3 in.                             8.4 in.

MSRP                 $56-83K                     $14-20K                           $58-75K

If different is your thing, Hummer would win out, but if you’re more practical, the Range rover will likely do enough for you on or off-road. And if MSRP has any impact, the Jeep in the middle will win hands down. I’ve been on Jeep Jamboree’s and I have to tell you, most of what you need to do “off-road” you can do in a Jeep or most any SUV with 4-wheel drive, for that matter. In fact, some of the narrow passages we took the Jeeps through would have been more difficult and flatly impossible in some situations. With the mirrors taken into consideration, the Hummer is almost three feet wider than the Jeep.

Well, you gotta believe I took this humm’n Hummer off-road. And I would have done so even if one of my publishers hadn’t asked me to. I couldn’t have been on course fifteen minutes when I got stuck in mud up to my tousch. But in all fairness, I just wasn’t equipped for the conditions, because the press model comes with street tires. Even with the capability of deflating the tires, when you are up to the floorboards in mud you simply need a winch to break the suction. But no problem, a Chevy Blazer with a winch pulled me out. How humiliating for Joe Rambo who was invincible fifteen minutes earlier. You can just imagine the chuckles of the hecklers who loved to see a “rich dude” being rescued by a $5,000 Cheevy. I had to step out into the mud from the relative comfort of a nicely upholstered, wood grain appointed $83,000 military appearing, go anywhere machine.

The military Humvee (HMMWV, for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) or Hummer was, of course, made famous throughout the world by TV news coverage of the Gulf War – or operation Desert Storm. The operative word here is Desert where there is lots of sand and very little mud. Although I knew this Hummer was not “faster than a speeding bullet”, I truly believed it would be “stronger than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”. It was, after all, this “Superman” vehicle in its element – “OFF-Road”. Well the lesson learned is that you really need to know the limitations of any vehicle.

Hummer is available in four trims: Hard Top 2-Door, Hard Top 4-Door, Open Top, and Wagon. I have the soft-top. I agree with some experts that it is ok as a work vehicle, geared for really rough terrain. In that case the high price tag and fuel consumption could be justified, but just to meet simple transportation needs there is little rationale.

The Competition:

Chevrolet Suburban $25,675 – $29,855, Ford Expedition $29,355 – $39,000, GMC Suburban $25,739 – $30,323, Jeep Wrangler $14,345 – $20,135, Land Rover Range Rover $58,000 – $75,000.

Good News:

Unique, always in style, versatile, off-road capable in open terrain, auxiliary fuel tank.

Bad News:

Poor visibility, oversize inconvenience, uncomfortable interior, expensive to own and operate, need for auxiliary fuel tank.

Standard Equipment:

6.5 liter V8 Turbo Diesel engine that produces 195 horsepower with 430 lb-ft of torque, 4-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, full-time 4-wheel drive and 4-wheel independent suspension, power disc brakes, power steering, power door locks, remote entry, power windows, AM/FM Stereo cassette and auxiliary fuel tank.

Gas Stats:

Not available, but not good either.


MSRP $72,790 and for the one I tested the following options brought the price to $83,149: Tire inflation system, cruise control, driveline protection, side guards, towing package, power mirrors, highway touring tires, heated windshield.

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