: I've been busy... H2 and M3 Combo-review...



Playdrv4me
04-05-08, 10:52 PM
Have not been around much for the past couple of months due to being quite busy with work and my car finding hobby which truly takes up most of my spare time when I'm working on it. I am quite dedicated, what can I say.

Anyhow, I do not plan to leave my forum buddies high and dry.

Jesda convinced me recently that it was time for the Range Rover to go due to increasing mileage, and in addition to this, niggling issues with the Gator began to get overwhelming. After owning all of the mainstream luxury 'utes except for the G500 I can make a semi-qualified analysis that the Navigator had the most issues of all of them. In addition, with fuel economy the way it is I needed to have at least one fun car in the stable, but definitely wanted to replace one or the other with a big-old American-iron SUV (I've pretty much discovered that my loyalties are split 50/50 between German cars and SUVs on the American side), fuel efficiency not being an issue because my mom who will primarily drive the SUV, works all of a mile and a half away, and doesnt really go anywhere else except for the occasional Barnes and Noble run a little up north of here.

So after *ALOT* of HARD searching, negotiating for my trades and pounding the pavement I found two more cars that were on my list to cross off... a 2002 BMW M3 (in this case a Convertible SMG car, but I didnt really want a convertible, didnt matter much either way), and one of the craziest things I've EVER come within 10 feet of, a 2003 Hummer H2. For a while there a 2005 STS4 V8 1SG had been the next prime candidate, but the blokes in the STS forum convinced me to pass after coming across some unknowns (it already stunk like coolant, the temp gauge was not rock steady and the main problem was a groaning noise at around 2k RPM... Northstar, we're through I thought to myself) with the steal of a car I was looking at. Next in line after the STS would have been another Escalade, either an ESV, or my favorite, an EXT. Honestly? For nothing else, the Cadillac truck leather smell... it is intoxicating.

Well, as it turns out, the H2 had the best book value and the one I found had an INSANE price, so it was easy to roll over the GDP worth of negative equity I had from the Depreci-gator. Seriously, Lincolns depreciate faster than Camryn Manheim's (no pun intended) rate of descent after a suicide jump off the Petronas towers. The M3s value proposition was even better, but I didnt have much to unbury from the Range Rover... people scoop those up like hotcakes and they retain their value. To an extent, I regret getting rid of that truck, but there is not room in my stable for two gas hogging piles of metal, especially when one drinks enough for two, and that's where we'll begin...

The H2 was rushed to market in 2003 within only 18 short months of GM's acquisition of the HUMMER brand from AM General Corp. A not-so-well known fact by the way is that despite the H2s direct descendance from the T800 Tahoe Platform, it was actually built by contract at AM General's Mishawaka, IN plant. It's place in the market was ill-defined at it's launch, yet not even midway through its first year of production, GM had already managed to offload over 19,000 of these bricks to the general public. It was well on target to make it's initial 40-50k per year sales goal, and sales remain consistent to this day, even given the current fluctuations in the economy and the soaring price of fuel.

Unfortunately, many reports that I have read, and even the occasional blog or forum post by GM Employees agrees with the fact that the extremely fast turnaround time resulted in ALOT of problems with the 2003 model. Indeed one poster who I read at Carsurvey.org mentioned that his RF and LF coilover springs had been incorrectly installed on the WRONG sides. On my particular truck, the first indication of this was an incorrectly functioning seat adjustment switch. It seems to work just fine, however pushing the switch forward makes the seat go BACKWARD and pushing it backward makes the seat go FORWARD! Not a big deal, but quite an embarrasment for a sub-50k vehicle. The switch does not appear to have ever been taken apart, so I suspect this truck came this way from the factory.

My Alpine White (Glacier White, Stone White for Chrysler fans, whatever it's white) H2 was produced in August of 2002, so I'm going to have to learn to forgive it for some of these failings that I'm inevitably going to come across. I can only cross my fingers that similar mistakes were not made with driveline components :eek: It drove out wonderfully and was a great highway companion on the way back from Lake City in northern Florida where I picked it up, so we'll see how things go from a long term standpoint and the mechanical perspective.

What I CAN comment on after my short day's jaunt with this truck is that it is unequivocally, without question, completely and utterly POINTLESS to own one of these. You are probably keenly aware that if you don't want to be, or are uncomfortable with being noticed, this is not the vehicle you buy. It is bar-none about the most ostentatious vehicle you can plop a houseboy's salary on this side of a Bentley Continental GT. It exudes excess and an aire of disconcern for all things of middle eastern origin that arrive here in liquid form. There is NO REAL cargo space despite it's GINORMOUS proportions, it's supposedly supreme offroad capability is hampered by it's sheer mass and girth, it's NOISY as a construction site on the highway with wind making a massive amount of noise when hitting the front windshield, and the most curious aspect of all is that due to it's lack of clear market placement, it is not particularly luxurious. The H2 manages to get away with some SURPRISING omissions for a nearly 50k MSRP vehicle. For the 2003 model year there was NO XM option (yet the Cavalier had it), there have to this day been NO Xenon headlight options, there was NO Navigation system for 2003, and interior materials left alot to be desired.

However what IS available works well, the (optional) 6CD in dash changer with BOSE audio is more than up to the task of sonic pleasure within the confines of the H2s cabin. The Climate Controls will freeze you out of the car and the rear passengers have their own, as well as their own dedicated heated seats and controls for their own radio settings that can be heard via headphone jacks. The seats are comfortable and supportive for long trips, though they don't extend up far enough for shorter people like my mom, who is just barely able to see over the dashboard in the fully extended position. This truck also had a myriad of options, including the self leveling air suspension, the rear cargo compartment air compressor, and several dealer installed accessories.

As far as fuel economy is concerned, forget it, there is no defending this vehicle. Everything you have heard, to an extent, is absolutely true. On a 175 mile trip back from northern FL, the best MPG reading I was able to get due to SEVERE wind battering the truck around like a ragdoll was 12.0 MPG on the dot. This is HIGHWAY driving, the SAME highway that the Navigator I drove up in managed to squeeze 17mpg out of. The brick-like structure of the H2, along with it's 6400lb GVWR are directly to blame for this. It is so heavy in-fact, that the dealer had to RE-register my plates for an entirely DIFFERENT class of vehicle (this is the loophole taxpayers were using some years ago to write H2s off their tax returns).

I have yet to get a clear reading in the city, but 11mpg seems about the max possible in an urban enviornment.

Yet with all these negatives, the H2 manage to retain some charms. It offers unmatched steel safety-cage construction, a more than sufficient towing capacity, and a visual appeal unlike that of any other vehicle I've ever owned. It announces it's presence and makes itself known, and I like that. For the price I paid for this little (or should I say big) one-owner gem, I feel happy with my purchase, I only hope that enjoyment continues, but time will tell...

http://images.autotrader.com/images/2008/3/21/241/242/6541224325.241242513.IM1.MAIN.565x421_A.562x421.jp g

http://images.autotrader.com/images/2008/3/21/241/242/6541224333.241242513.IM1.08.565x421_A.562x421.jpg

http://images.autotrader.com/images/2008/3/21/241/242/6541224327.241242513.IM1.03.565x421_A.562x421.jpg


M3

The reasoning behind picking up one of these SHOULD be relatively simple. I am a BMW enthusiast at heart, and a long-time devotee of what I believe is one of the 10 best chassis ever produced... the E46. Over the years I've had nearly more E46 cars than I can possibly count, but why not an M3?

The answer is relatively self-explanatory. As much as I loved and DEEPLY respected the E46 3 Series, I had essentially become numb to them... 3 Series'd "out" if you will. I knew I had missed out on the king of the E46 hill, the M3, but I just wasn't tuned in enough to buy one. I had graduated from the ubiquitous 3 series to more prestigious forms of sedan-ized transport. 7 Series, STS, Phaeton, even S Class... but if I was going to get another car, the 3 series was the furthest thing away from my mind.

Then one day an Alpine White (ok in this case it really is BMWs color designation) 2002 M3 Cabrio SMG with Navigation and even backup sensors appeared on my Infiniti dealer's lot. I had been working with this dealer and the Mercedes dealer next door for months looking for the "just right" car to trade my beloved and now dearly departed Range Rover on. Yet nothing worth it's salt was showing up.

Out of exasperation I went ahead and asked to drive the M3, just to see what this hype was all about. Well, all I can say is one of the true definitions of a world-class car is exactly one which takes only one drive to convince you whatever you were considering before might need to take a backseat, and right away.

The E46 M3 is considered by enthusiasts and professionals alike to quite possibly be the BEST M3 ever built, even encompassing the newest E92 V8 car, if for nothing else, because a V8 does little to embody what the 3 series is all about (the 335i is actually a crapton more bang for the buck considering this fact). I haven't driven the previous nor the newer version, so I can't quite confirm this, but something tells me that except for the E30, this is probably spot-on.

However, I had one niggling issue with the E46, and that was that there was *GASP!* no automatic, as there had been in the E36 version before it, making it a liveable daily driven race-car for those of us who live in CONGESTED and traffic laden cities with lots of frequent stops. It was this concern that ended up being the tipping point on my decision to go for the 2002 car at the Infiniti dealer, as it was equipped with BMWs "SMG" or "Sequential M Gearbox" automated manual transmission that featured a fully automated shift mode if the driver so desired. Lest you make the mistake however of simply calling this a "tiptronic" or "automatic with manual shifting". The SMG is a FULL ON MANUAL transmission with an electro-hydraulically controlled clutch mechanism. It is capable of executing shifts in as fast as .18 of a second, or should you so choose, taking a much more leisurely stroll mimicking a traditional automatic. It is NOT however and it still takes getting used to the somewhat harsher than normal shifts, even in the softest mode.

With that preface, I must say that after all the hype, after all the E46s I've owned, the M3 has left me with mixed emotions thus far. Yes, it is the most kickass you can get in a can for the price, and yes it is the fastest E46 available. However, what you are piloting is essentially a plebian body wrapped around a RACE motor. As a result you end up with alot of metallic gnashing, tapping and generally very organic motor noises you don't ever hear with a more pedestrian everyday powerplant. The 3.0L motor may not be as fast, but it sure is a ton smoother to drive everyday, and BMWs REGULAR tiptronic automatics are nothing to sneeze at anyway. They are among the finest automatics on the face of the planet, many of which are produced by BMWs joint partnership with GM France.

This car also requires the upkeep and maintenance that is par for the course with such a specialized piece of machinery. It will certainly go the distance, but you need to stay on top of it religiously. My car is a Certified Pre Owned through May of this year, as well as having the Maintenance warranty through the same period. I am trying to keep on it as best I can, and hopefully I will be able to gain more enjoyment out of it over time. However I must say that for anyone else the 3.0L 330i cars in the E46 body are MORE than sufficient and ESPECIALLY with the ZHP option (Performance Pack) are PLENTY quick. Make no mistake about it however, when you ask the M3 to move, IT MOVES. Press the sport button to remap the DME (engine computer throttle mapping), disable the traction control, and you have one DANGEROUS piece of machinery in your hands. It is a power that must be yielded with great care, otherwise you'll waste yourself right into a pole rather than wasting your competition.

http://www.q45.org/gallery2/d/5408-1/M3+001.jpg

http://www.q45.org/gallery2/d/5411-1/M3+002.jpg

http://www.q45.org/gallery2/d/5421-1/M3+007.jpg

hueterm
04-05-08, 11:48 PM
I like the Hummer look -- and if they made one w/the dimensions of the Escalade, I'd consider it. But the proportions of the H2, while in theory are better for off roading, are very limiting. As mentioned w/the lack of storage space on something so large.

The H3 is too small, and the (departed) H1 was IMO miserable to ride in.

Jesda
04-06-08, 12:02 AM
NEAT! I wonder how likable it'll be after a couple months. Looks gorgeous.

Playdrv4me
04-06-08, 12:13 AM
In respect to Jesda who always manages to remind me that I completely overlook ride quality and handling in my reviews I'll make a very simple addition...

The ride quality, is actually superb for such a behemoth of a vehicle. Honestly? The ride and drive is only a couple of ticks away from the Escalade, I found this quite astonishing, and this is very likely due to the fact that this truck has the height adjustable self-leveling air suspension. Like all GMT 800 pickups and SUVs, the steering is nearly effortless and lacks any genuine feel. Wandering tends to occur if the truck is hit by a little wind, and the alignment, like every other Escalade I've driven, is never spot on. It's much better here than it was in my always-right-pulling 2003 Escalade, but it could still use a little tweaking.

Here's a surprising factoid by the way. I was about to say that this truck is the widest thing on the road but oddly enough, the Navigator is WIDER at 2088mm vs. the H2s 2062.

Also, while my favorite leather smell is the Escalade leather, the H2 comes in 2nd or 3rd with what appears to be the exact same leather supplier as my Jeep Grand Cherokees used. Very odoriferous, but in a good way.

hueterm
04-06-08, 12:15 AM
Wow, I would have never guessed on the width. I would have bet money that the H2 was the widest thing out there except for an H1.

How's the front seat room compared to a 'lade?

Playdrv4me
04-06-08, 12:20 AM
Wow, I would have never guessed on the width. I would have bet money that the H2 was the widest thing out there except for an H1.

How's the front seat room compared to a 'lade?

I know, Im not sure whats up. I checked MULTIPLE sites and Im getting 2088 for the Gator and 2062 for the H2. I might have to go measure it myself when I get a chance because that just plain can't be right.

As far as the seat room, it's decent, but what you have to remember is everything in H2 world is backwards... so bigger outside means smaller inside for who knows why... but the most likely reason is because the slab-sided nature of the doors means that all the stuff that would normally fit in the concavity of the other GMT-800 'utes, is slightly pushed in toward the cabin in the H2.

EDIT: For the 2004 models the review sites I'm finding changed over to inches instead of MM. Unfortunately this only serves to confirm the previous finding. 2004 Navigator 82.2, 2004 H2 81.2. Not only that, the H2 is shorter in overall length as well... It would appear the H2 is a victim of it's own creative packaging, and the Navigator is an artful-dodger escaping criticism frequently.

Jesda
04-06-08, 04:01 PM
Yeah, this M3 definitely needs the LED tails. I'm torn between the scalloped headlights and the facelifted 04+ look.

Playdrv4me
04-06-08, 06:56 PM
Yeah, this M3 definitely needs the LED tails. I'm torn between the scalloped headlights and the facelifted 04+ look.

Funny, I was just thinking of that when I was getting my hair cut today. Let's trade while mom's out next week LOL.

Jesda
04-06-08, 06:59 PM
So few replies. No one cares about Ian.

Except the hosts on SNBC.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
04-06-08, 09:35 PM
Do You Want To Race Me Ian?



On second thought, how about not....

gary88
04-06-08, 09:50 PM
Some questions about the M:

What kind of gas mileage does it get around town?
How does S1-S3 perform, too slow or pretty good?

Playdrv4me
04-06-08, 10:19 PM
Some questions about the M:

What kind of gas mileage does it get around town?
How does S1-S3 perform, too slow or pretty good?

With the manual Edmunds is reporting that their long-term test '02 M3 they bought recently is getting around 18.9mpg. I am getting about 18.5 so far in mine around town.

S1 I believe starts the car out in 2nd gear, so I dont use it much. I primarily use S2 around town since it seems to utilize 6th more efficiently than than the default startup programme which is S3, which holds gears longer and utilizes 4th and 5th more, therefore not getting the best fuel economy possible.

blue07cts
04-06-08, 10:23 PM
OMG you bought my neighbor's H2!! they traded it in at hopkins about a month after i got my 08 CTS there! and i wouldn't expect any major issue's out of it. as far as i know the biggest issue they ever had out of it bad alignment when they first got it!

gary88
04-06-08, 10:29 PM
One more thing,

Launch control: a great feature, or the greatest feature?

Playdrv4me
04-06-08, 10:33 PM
Do You Want To Race Me Ian?



On second thought, how about not....

Let's compromise. I'll race you in the H2. :p

Playdrv4me
04-06-08, 10:37 PM
OMG you bought my neighbor's H2!! they traded it in at hopkins about a month after i got my 08 CTS there! and i wouldn't expect any major issue's out of it. as far as i know the biggest issue they ever had out of it bad alignment when they first got it!

WOW, talk about a small world!! That is awesome, me and my mom are really enjoying the truck, the interior looks well cared for. Hopkins put new tires on it just a little bit ago too!

What did he trade for? Next time you have a chat with your neighbor maybe you can get a little history for me if anything else besides the alignment ever came up. The only mechanical thing I've noticed so far is a slight "klack" from the undercarriage sometimes at take off, and also when you stop. Not always, but frequently. Its not really the driveline clunk that is common on the T800s, it's more of a clack toward the rear.

Oh yea, tell him I want my Leatherman Wave too! (Was missing from the deluxe toolkit) :p

Thanks for posting!

Playdrv4me
04-06-08, 10:39 PM
One more thing,

Launch control: a great feature, or the greatest feature?

I gotta be honest with you on this one, I'm afraid to use it since the warranty is about up and every launch puts tremendous stress on the driveline. Maybe I'll get some balls to do it after I put on a new set of rear tires, the ones that are on it are practically racing slicks and dangerous to do any high performance running on.

gary88
04-07-08, 02:07 AM
They say the clutch is only good for 30 hard launches, ie using launch control.

JC316
04-07-08, 02:54 AM
Nice reviews man. 12MPG highway? Jesus, I thought my Dad's 5.9L Dodge Ram 1500 extended cab got shit for milage at 14MPG with a city/highway mix. I always thought the H2 was a bit of a gimmick, I would prefer an escalade.

You wanted an automatic M3?!?! Damn, I LOVE my 5 speed saturn, even in traffic, I must be the type of rare person that likes it.

Playdrv4me
04-07-08, 03:14 AM
Nice reviews man. 12MPG highway? Jesus, I thought my Dad's 5.9L Dodge Ram 1500 extended cab got shit for milage at 14MPG with a city/highway mix. I always thought the H2 was a bit of a gimmick, I would prefer an escalade.

You wanted an automatic M3?!?! Damn, I LOVE my 5 speed saturn, even in traffic, I must be the type of rare person that likes it.

No you're not rare at all. I get this response ALL the time, and truthfully there ARE times when I grab the little SMG stub shifter and wish I could row it, but for the MOST part I prefer to have the car do it for me in trafficky situations.

ted tcb
04-07-08, 11:35 AM
Nice cars, Ian.
I'm curious, do you typically buy these cars "right", and trade them for what you paid.
Or, are you accumulating negative equity?
I'm guessing you must be buying the cars close to wholesale, and them flipping them for what you have in them.
Are insurance premiums hefty on the Hummer and M3?
Last question ... what happened to your IS250/350?

Playdrv4me
04-07-08, 12:19 PM
Nice cars, Ian.
I'm curious, do you typically buy these cars "right", and trade them for what you paid.
Or, are you accumulating negative equity?
I'm guessing you must be buying the cars close to wholesale, and them flipping them for what you have in them.
Are insurance premiums hefty on the Hummer and M3?
Last question ... what happened to your IS250/350?

It's complicated. I suppose it's sort of a hybrid of both. I mean really, If you finance a car, unless you put down 10-15000.00 on it right from the start, you're always going to have some negative equity accepting the best dealer trade offer. The key is I search ALONG time for the next car to be priced 3-5000.00 under fair market and in turn as much as 9-10000 under NADA retail so that I have the headroom to finance it, plus a little cash down. The H2 for example was a good 4000.00 below the next best price anywhere in FL, and the LOWEST in the entire COUNTRY. Funny story on that, actually. The guy who I was in competition with to get the H2 was actually a DEALER from North Carolina, but I got to it first because I was local. The M3 wasn't the same phenomenal deal, but on the OTHER side of the equation I got very strong money for my 100k mile Range Rover, nearly 21000.00.

If that's not enough, I get even more creative. If I need to make up some more of the distance versus a dealer trade offer, I will throw the car up on Craigslist and Autotrader for well BELOW market value, but a few thousand ABOVE the dealers' best trade offer and then BRING that customer in with me to the dealership to just pass my car through to them, then carry the bit of negative equity that's left over.

This allows me to continue the cycle and enjoy a new one every so often. It is not cheap, but the luxury of being able to drive a different car every few months is really nice. The truth however is I really want to stick with something for a while, disasters aside, I'm going to try to give these a chance. I've said that before, but I'm pretty worn out now.

The M3 insurance isn't that bad, the H2 with progressive reflected a 235.00 change in my insurance premium which is absolutely ABSURD. As a result, I'm going to try switching to a different company. I found out that Progressive has some weird rating criteria. For example, DUIs are given 0 points because in Progressive's opinion, they are unlikely to remain on the road if they offend again, and if they do theyre either going to die or go to jail. The H2 gets a huge hit on points because it's a big vehicle likely to do alot of damage to the other car, a completely upside down approach versus other insurance companies who place more emphasis on the cost of damages to YOUR car.

gothicaleigh
04-07-08, 12:59 PM
The E46 M3 is considered by enthusiasts and professionals alike to quite possibly be the BEST M3 ever built, even encompassing the newest E92 V8 car, if for nothing else, because a V8 does little to embody what the 3 series is all about (the 335i is actually a crapton more bang for the buck considering this fact).

Heresy! <starts sharpening the pitchforks>


I haven't driven the previous nor the newer version, so I can't quite confirm this, but something tells me that except for the E30, this is probably spot-on.

I suppose we can grant you a reprieve for your earlier comments now. http://www.8thdaycreations.com/images/gothicaleigh/gothiraspberry.gif



Great reviews. Thanks for sharing. :)

Jesda
04-07-08, 01:16 PM
That Lexus IS didnt stick around long enough for your arse to warm the seat!

blue07cts
04-07-08, 08:30 PM
WOW, talk about a small world!! That is awesome, me and my mom are really enjoying the truck, the interior looks well cared for. Hopkins put new tires on it just a little bit ago too!

What did he trade for? Next time you have a chat with your neighbor maybe you can get a little history for me if anything else besides the alignment ever came up. The only mechanical thing I've noticed so far is a slight "klack" from the undercarriage sometimes at take off, and also when you stop. Not always, but frequently. Its not really the driveline clunk that is common on the T800s, it's more of a clack toward the rear.

Oh yea, tell him I want my Leatherman Wave too! (Was missing from the deluxe toolkit) :p

Thanks for posting!


i'll see if i can catch them home somtime and have a chat with them over it. the klack you may be hearing might be one of the rear tow hooks. every now and again they can flop and make a slight klacking noise, as far as witch they traded it for i am not sure as they got a escalade and had an armada for a while. so i ma not sure if the armada was a rental or if it was what they origionally traded for but they have an escalade now. now as for the leatherman wave...haha i'll see what i can do:thumbsup: