Road warriors

Nick McKnight

Photo By Larry Dalton

You see the Hummer on the road, especially around Fair Oaks Boulevard. The average car’s roof comes up to the Hummer’s door handles. You can’t see over or around them, and you get the feeling that if you got into an accident with one, the people inside would only feel a bump. The Hummer looks like a fuel-burning machine. After laughing and cursing at Hummers for a couple of years, I thought perhaps it was time to test drive one, so I went to Mike Daugherty Chevrolet/Hummer of Sacramento on Fulton Avenue and talked with sales representative Nick McKnight. I found out that there are two types of Hummers. The H1, which is the military type that seats four, can be airdropped and will easily drive through two feet of water. The H1 will set you back a minimum of $100,000. The H2, on the other hand, seats five and starts at only $49,000—about the same price as other luxury SUVs. Both vehicles’ dashboards are reminiscent of a Bond car or the Batmobile.

What kind of person buys the H1?

It’s either people that need the vehicle for off-road use, like people with vineyards and a lot of property, or just people that want to drive around in a $100,000 vehicle and have the status.

What is the best feature on the H1?

The H1 has a central inflation system where, by pushing a button on the dash, you can inflate or deflate all your tires. It has run-flat tires; if you were to puncture your tire, you could still drive on it. You can drive through 30 inches of water and not harm anything. You can drive a 60-degree slope, a 40-degree side slope, and you can get a snorkel intake that will increase your fiording capabilities. There are not many places where this truck cannot go. It is built for the extreme off-road driver. Its heritage is basically from the military. It has a diesel engine, which has very high torque for slow climbing speeds, high ground clearance, wide track width and low center of gravity, so you can drive up a really steep angle.

What is the percentage of people that actually take it off-road?

[Laughs] I’d say 20 percent. We have Hummer happenings where we get some of our past customers together and do an off-road event. We just had one in Prairie City at a motocross track. We had some reps from the factory that taught people how to use the vehicle properly, and half the people had never been off-road in any vehicle. They just had a blast. They were amazed at what their Hummer could do off-road.

What kind of person buys the H2?

Someone who needs a little bit more interior space. We actually have a lot of women buying them. Over 50 percent [of our customers] are women. I’ve sold them to a 19-year-old guy and to an 80-year-old woman. It’s wild. The H2 still is very off-road capable but with a lot more creature comforts.

What kind of accessories can you get with the H2?

Whatever you can think of. OnStar comes standard, and they are all automatic, with full-time four-wheel drive. You can get adjustable suspension in the rear, so you can raise the height of the body. You can get roof racks, tire carriers, different brush guards, a lot of chrome accessories, different tires and wheels … steps, rearview camera, sunroof, TVs, DVD players, backup camera, rear audio controls, heated seats, extra seats. As far as customizing it, we can do it anywhere from a day and a half to two days.

What about mileage?

They are right in the same range as the other big SUVs. They get between 11 and 14 miles per gallon. The H2 has a V8 engine, and it has a lot more horsepower and torque. It’s built for being able to tow heavy loads and to use it off-road. It’s definitely one of the safer vehicles, too, because it has a full steel roll cage.

How fast can it go?

It tops out at about 100 mph. It’s not a race car.

What is the most popular color?

On the H2, I would say probably yellow. It’s kind of an in-your-face vehicle, so it’s kind of nice to have a loud color. After that, I’d say black. Black looks tough on the Hummer.

So, how much can you spend on a Hummer?

Minimum on the H2 is about $49,000, and the maximum with different accessories and upgrades on it would be about $70,000. The H1s are priced between $100,000 and $130,000. The misconception about the H2 is that they are priced so much higher than other vehicles. A fully loaded Chevy Tahoe will run you 45 grand.

Why should someone buy a Hummer?

They are a really fun vehicle because they are so unique. They are really different from anything else on the road. The styling appeals to a wide audience. The H2 is nice because it is half the price of the H1, so people can actually afford them.