General Motors is introducing the new Hummer H3. It looks very much like the big, beefy, hypermacho Hummer H2 which looks a lot like the really big, really beefy, Hummer H1.
But the Hummer H3 is smaller. About the same size as a small family sedan, it's almost 17 inches shorter than the H2 and 6.5 inches narrower. It is similar in size to the Jeep Liberty.
Extremely poor gas mileage has been a major complaint among owners of the larger Hummer H2. (Because it is not considered, technically, a passenger vehicle, the H2 has not been rated for fuel efficiency by the Environmental Protection Agency.)
The H3 provides an opportunity for the less affluent to afford something that still looks and feels like the big Hummers. It will be much cheaper, and it won't go through tanks of gasoline like kegs of beer at a fraternity party.
The new, smaller Hummer will be powered by a 220 horsepower 5-cylinder engine. It's no Prius, but GM does expect it to get up to 20 miles a gallon.
Sales of the larger H2, which is priced at about $50,000, have been dropping recently. Analysts have blamed high fuel prices and simple market saturation. There are only so many people who want something as extremely brawny as the Hummer H2.
GM still makes much of the new midsize Hummer's off-road capabilities. Optional versions will have extremely low-speed gear ranges available for "ultimate obstacle-climbing control." The H3 also has 33-inch tires and a 9.1-inch ground clearance.
In addition to its small size, the H3 will also be the first Hummer available with a manual transmission. The H2 and H1 are available only with automatics.