For the H3T's nemesis in this challenge, we choose none other than the Nissan GT-R, our new Automobile of the Year and quite arguably also the titleholder for the crown of "fastest car on any given road in any given condition." If a BMW is the ultimate driving machine, the GT-R is the ultimate passing machine. No passing zone is too short, no line of dawdlers too long, for the GT-R to dispatch with violent malice. In the case of the H3T, you could say it's picking a fight with the meanest guy in the prison yard. That's how you cement your rep.
West Coast editor Jason Cammisa selflessly volunteers to pilot the GT-R in this grand showdown, and we meet a day early in Telluride to take stock of both the trails and the area's roads. On the trail up out of Telluride, heading toward Imogene Pass, it's immediately clear that the Hummer will be able to make good time, as the path isn't too rough in most places. What it is, occasionally, is narrow. On the way back down, we encounter a Jeep coming up the mountain, and I squeeze over as close as I can get to the cliff wall. The Wrangler, meanwhile, is essentially treading on the edge of the clouds. This doesn't perturb the driver, who stops to chat and ask how my day is going, but it's evidently more nerve-racking for his passenger, who is peering out the window at nothing but sky. "Did you see the woman in the passenger seat?" Jason asks after I drive away. I reply in the negative. "Well," he says, "she was crying."
In my favor, the paved roads in this area have their own challenges, and after a recon drive in the Hummer, I have abrasions on both elbows, from bracing myself against the center console and the door panel on the constant switchbacks of the San Juan Mountains. If averaging 50 mph sounds easy, try doing it when you've got 25-mph hairpins, an endless parade of logging trucks, and no passing zones for miles. What's more, the high altitude seems to have afflicted the GT-R with a massive case of turbo lag, such that the Hummer is now actually quicker than the GT-R off the line-at least until the dual turbos whip the thin air into usable boost. It's a small advantage, but against Godzilla, I'll take what I can get.