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H2 EXTERIOR DESIGN: BUILDING ON A LEGEND

You couldn't have bigger shoes to fill than when you have to design a stablemate to the original HUMMER H1. H1 is the icon of off-roading, the military-bred, ultimate all-terrain vehicle. H2, while being functional and refined in its design, had to above all strike instant recognition as a HUMMER.

"Being identifiable as a member of the HUMMER family is a must," said Marc Hernandez, H2 brand manager. "Clearly H2 does that. But it also carries itself in a rugged manner, with a very striking yet clean design."

To capture the look, feel and capabilities of the original HUMMER and reshape them for more mainstream appeal, GM designers took a "clean sheet" approach to the exterior body design. By starting virtually from scratch, designers were able to capture the essential proportions of H1 and the signature features of its fiercely utilitarian design. Its form vocabulary is one of square shapes, flat chiseled surfaces, hard peak lines and flat glass planes.

THINKING OUT OF THE BOX ABOUT THE BOX

H2's extremely boxy body and very straight windshield and windows, which resemble H1's forms, combine to create a significant amount of interior room. The vertical glass opens up a broader front and wider side view. In a nod to the functional aspect of design, exposed components, like hood lift handles, hood latches and fasteners, give H2's appearance an individually component-assembled quality. Exposed components, as they do on H1, shout ruggedness and exemplify yeoman-like functionality and workmanship.

Typically thick, hefty and massively sized components, such as the reinforced steel bumpers and outside rearview mirrors, provide extraordinary strength and convey an appearance and feeling of near indestructibility-a tenet of the HUMMER brand.

The wide tread, long wheelbase, short overhangs, huge tires and wheels at the extreme corners, designed for extraordinary stability, ground clearance and climbing, quickly signal H2's unparalleled off-road capability. The upright side windows, large hood handles and tow loops, round headlamps-even the signature louvered grille-all reflect H2's military heritage, which is, again, directly descended from H1.

While somewhat scaled down in size and weight, H2 is hardly what some have loosely characterized as a "baby HUMMER." It's actually taller, at 77.8 inches (82 inches with the optional roof rack), and longer, at 189.8 inches, than H1. Its dimensions, like its proportions, provide the optimum in passenger comfort and safety, as well as off-road capability.

HIGH-STRENGTH, EASY-TO-OPEN HOOD

H2 features a forward-tilting hood with integral fenders like that of H1. The hood and the fenders are made of dent- and rust-resistant sheet molding compound. The hood also uses metal reinforcements for added strength. As a unique feature, H2's optional brush guard has been designed to attach to the hood, so that both tilt up together when the hood is opened. With its spring-loaded assist hinges, the hood requires less than 20 pounds of force to open. It opens about 110 degrees, providing full access to the engine compartment. The hood also provides extra safety with inside and outside hood latches. Heavy-duty, exposed outside hood latches on either side near the cowl panel tie the whole front end down; they provide extra safety during severe off-road maneuvers. An inside middle hood latch, or lock, provides additional security.

DISTINCTIVE LIGHTING

Visually distinctive lighting is a functional design element that complements the entire vehicle. H2 sports HUMMER-style seven-inch halogen headlamps as part of its lighting system. Unlike conventional modular systems, there are actually six separate lamps used for the headlamps, park/turn signals, daytime running lamps (DRLs) and side markers. All the bulbs are easier to access and service than those of conventional systems. The headlamps and amber park/turn signals are part of the grille assembly. DRLs are imbedded in the black composite fascia of the upper bumper section, which also accommodates the optional halogen projector beam fog lamps. Side marker lamps are part of the hood and fender assembly.

Additional roof marker and clearance lights signal H2's width and help drivers to be seen more easily. There are three marker and two side clearance lamps on both the front and rear of the roof, along with the rear Center High Mounted Stop Lamp (CHMSL). Flush, vertically stacked taillamps also clearly signal H2's heritage. Running and stop lamps light up at the top of the taillamps, turn signals in the center and the back-up lamp at the bottom. Two lamps also light up the license plate.

HEFTY BUMPERS

Like other H2 components, the bumpers are unusually large and hefty. But they have a two-sectional design to help reduce weight while still providing optimum protection. They accommodate H2's high approach and departure angles during off-road operation, but still fall into a range of other vehicles' bumper zones on the highway. The lower, critical two-thirds of the bumper section, designed to take actual impacts, is constructed of high-strength steel.

The front bumper also includes large, military, HUMMER-style retrieval loops; the rear bumper includes tow loops (which can also serve as tie-downs). Both bumpers have access holes for the hitch receivers attached to the chassis. The front receiver accommodates a winch, which can be plugged in, locked (just like a trailer hitch) and hooked up with an electrical connection, allowing H2 to free vehicles mired in mud or otherwise helplessly grounded. The front receiver also accommodates a regular Class 3 trailer hitch, providing additional flexibility for such tasks as pulling a boat out of the water or backing your trailer into a tight spot.

EXCEPTIONAL BODY STRENGTH

H2 has an extremely strong, rigid and dimensionally accurate body structure, significantly enhanced by an integral, welded-on front end and heavy-gauge steel panels and structural components. The entire front portion of its body, from the radiator back, is directly welded to the dash panel and body side frame. This extends the front end and ties it into the whole body. It provides exceptional stiffness for virtually squeak- and rattle-free operation and contributes to occupant safety in front-end collisions.

All of H2's outer door panels, including the lift gate, use thicker than normal steel, increasing dent resistance as well as overall body strength. And, as part of its enhanced structural supports, some components, such as the backcross sill, use steel gauge as thick as 2.5mm. All exterior body panels, including the roof when the optional sunroof (GM's largest ever) is ordered, use two-side galvanized steel as part of extensive corrosion protection. The galvanized zinc coating prevents surface rust due to minor chips and scratches, and helps prevent holes that start from inside. The inner and outer panels are also coated by submersion in an electrocoat zinc primer before application of the primer surface and top coat.

The bodies are painted with high-quality base coat/clear coat electrocoating paint process, which makes the paint more resistant to fading and chipping and further helps prevent corrosion. It produces a long-lasting, high-gloss finish. There are seven exterior color choices, including Pewter Metallic, Black, Yellow, Medium Sage Green Metallic, White, Sunset Orange and Redfire Metallic.

LARGE WHEEL OPENINGS AND EASY, HIGH-LIFT JACK LIFT POINTS

H2's exceptionally large wheelhouses anticipate what those seeking the best off-road vehicle on the market will want: huge tires and lots of wheel travel. They allow plenty of wheel travel during off-road use or when the suspension is articulating to help prevent the tires from hitting the body. H2's wheels and tires are the largest production size of any GM light-duty truck: 17.0 x 8.5-inch forged aluminum wheels and B.F. Goodrich LT315/70R17 all-terrain tires are standard.

Standard black composite wheelhouse liners, a premium feature, protect the body from stone throws and help dampen tire noise; black molded wheel flares provide splash and stone protection.

In addition to full skid-plate protection, H2 also provides unique rocker protection. A standard large, black-painted steel tube, running along the driver side and bolted to the frame, protects the lower body and door panels against being struck by rocks and stumps from beneath and on side angles. The vehicle can be easily jacked up from square in the middle of the rocker protector, if necessary, lifting two wheels off the ground.