Non-SUV. If we were speaking about any brand other than Hummer that word would seem out of place. But for GM's upscale off-road performance-oriented (so far) SUV-only Hummer brand, it's an appropriate point of entry to begin discussing Hummer's new H3T concept midsize non-SUV - er, pickup - introduced at the L.A. Auto Show in December last year.
Aside from the fact that this concept is not an SUV, it's significant that it is a regular cab, as opposed to a crew or extended pickup. According to Clay Dean, design director for small trucks and Hummer, GM is not abandoning the regular cab. The designers are working to provide more room in the cab while keeping the style of the regular cab, a style that anchors the classic look of pickups.
This is already evident in the new Colorado and Canyon midsize pickups that feature extended cab room with regular cab style. And since the H3T is reportedly based on a combination of the Colorado/Canyon platform and the Trailblazer/Envoy platforms with significant tuning choices to provide Hummer-level performance, the talk about the cab styling and the midsizing of the concept is an indication that GM is seriously considering building a Hummer pickup.
It's pretty obvious that a midsize Hummer would fill an off-road performance niche in the Hummer line. The other Hummers are too large for serious work in tight switchbacks and canyons, but the midsize unit would be better able to compete with Jeep in this area. Its wheels-at-the-corners configuration, along with 34-inch-tall tires and 11.5 inches of ground clearance, give the H3T a 51-degree approach angle and 50-degree departure angle. In addition, its 118.6-inch wheelbase and 74.5-inch track give the H3T the wide stance, low roofline, and wheels at the corners look that's become virtually a trademark of the H1 and H2.
The dimensions of the H3T will most likely enhance the on-road performance and fun-to-drive feeling of any future production vehicles modeled after it. Says Dean: "The cab configuration is personal, and the smaller size makes the H3T more manageable and less intimidating to some drivers than larger vehicles. The smaller size also gives the H3T a more sporting and dynamic driving sensation." Though a road test is a few years off, after experiencing the concept, we have to agree with Dean.
One of the more interesting aspects of this concept is the collaboration between the GM design studio and Nike designers. Tracy Teague, Nike global director, men's performance footwear, says that Nike solves problems for athletes, and the company took that approach for the areas of the concept it was collaborating on. The tires are the most obvious. Footwear design is always trying to solve multipurpose traction problems. Nike's solution is to use several different materials and surfaces to provide traction on a variety of surfaces and weather conditions. Working with BFGoodrich on the design of the tires was a natural extension.
Nike's influence on the interior design included the use of its Sphere material on the H3T's seats. This lightweight material, used by Nike in specialized sport clothing, is said to cool or warm the body without mechanical means, thus providing a comfort benefit. It also has a unique look that conveys a technical aesthetic, which the designers think is more in tune with the target buyer's notion of premium-level finish. This tactic of using high-tech materials, such as Nike's Sphere, aircraft-quality aluminum, carbon-fiber, and so on, instead of wood and leather, is right on target in our opinion. Even the seats, enhanced by Nike Epic backpacks integrated into seatback clamshells, give the concept a premium feel. The interior is a great example of form flowing naturally and expressively from its function.