2008 Hummer H3 Alpha

Shamit Choksey

The H3's chassis has also been revised to accommodate the new engine. Its suspension is now outfitted with higher rate torsion bars and re-valved shocks to handle a more aggressive driving style.

These upgrades, combined with the H3's more maneuverable size (relative to the mega H2), makes for a vehicle that can move deftly between many a rock and a hard place. We managed to tread some of the narrowest trails without a nick to the body. The H3 has the uncanny ability to weave through tight spots that at first appear too small.

Fully aware that most H3 Alpha's will never see the likes of such axle-twisting action, GM made sure that this mid-size SUV offers a solid and compliant ride on the normal streets. Its feel is certainly less truck-like and more comfortable than the uplevel H2, making it a fine choice for hauling kids, cargo, or going off on weekend road trips.

With plenty of on-road attitude, the Alpha stands out from five-cylinder H3 models with a standard Chrome Appearance Package. This includes sixteen-inch chrome wheels and a bright Alpha badge on the tailgate.

Although interior changes are for the most part limited to badging, the opulent cabin is expectedly upscale, offering a roster of techno-savvy amenities. The most eye-catching is the back-up camera display screen, which hides within the rear view mirror housing, and automatically slides out into view when summoned. The whole H3 line elevates its passenger safety with standard head curtain side airbags, which were previously optional. Other standard safety-related features include StabiliTrak electronic stability control and four-wheel ABS with traction control.

Starting at roughly forty-thousand dollars, the H3 Alpha is a very complete package, inside and out. And yes it's true, most of them will never leave the confines of suburbia. But so what? If this utility gets you the head-turning looks, carries the kids to soccer practice, and chariots you comfortably to work, then who's to say it's not for you? And every so often, while you're sitting at a red light and dreaming of leaving the concrete jungle for a real one, at least you know you can.

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