A Hummer H2's evolution into a sport utility truck (SUT) is not surprising, nor is it much of a stretch. Don't forget that the Hummer was originally designed for the military, and the Pentagon demands a certain amount of versatility from its people and equipment. Converting an enclosed utility vehicle into a pickup truck with an open bed is a no-brainer for an organization that values functionality over style and comfort. But in the civilian world of Hummers and the high-end sport utility market, comfort and style supersede most other considerations. About 99 percent of the Hummers on the road will never leave it, and the automaker made sure to include some cushy features in the latest H2. However, the H2 is still a capable off-road vehicle in the hands of those who would use it in that capacity, and the SUT styling, which is just being introduced by GM as you read this, makes it a useful utility vehicle as well.

An SUT is an SUV with an open, truncated truck bed. It's a style that suits the H2 - both as a matter of function and visual design. Any SUV could benefit from an SUT spin-off that essentially creates more cargo-carrying capacity, but such conversions often give SUVs a strange hybrid look - in the same way that a platypus looks neither quite like fowl nor mammal. The H2's blocky, utilitarian lines, on the other hand, do not suffer from the jut of its short, open bed.

At the 2003 SEMA Show, there were three configurations of the H2 SUT sitting on the display floor. First was the off-road dirt bike concept, with a truck bed extender to accommodate two bikes, a bike carrier, and a tire carrier. The hard-tonneau version includes a fully integrated modular storage basket that can be stacked on either the tonneau or the bed. The off-road canvas storage package, which is the configuration you see splashed across these pages, has a roll-up, square-back canvas ragtop, with side and rear windows and zip-in screens, that expands the cargo area of the bed. Like most SUTs, extra hauling space can be created by opening the rear of the cab to the truck bed. The H2's 60/40 rear seats and midgate fold down nearly flat to accommodate an extra 56.7 cubic feet of cargo.

Overall body styling is all Hummer, with a typical craggy appearance. There is nothing subtle about this vehicle. Not its squared corners, nor the Metallic Cement paintjob. Its 20-inch cast-aluminum wheels resemble custom freight-train upgrades. Both bumpers accommodate recovery loops and are ready to accept an electric winch and Class 3 hitch. Brush grilleguards, a chrome roof basket, roof rack crossbars, a hard cargo carrier, tubular taillamp guards, tubular assist steps, removable U-steps, a trailering convenience package, and off-road lamps all protrude from the body.

Even the electronics make a statement - night vision cameras glare from an offset position between the hood handles. Inside the SUT model are heated, Medium Wheat leather-wrapped seats that feature eight-way adjustment for the driver and front passenger, four-way lumbar support, and memory settings for two drivers. A touch-screen navigation radio aids navigation, while a Clarion 12-disc CD changer and nine-speaker Bose system aids recreation. Other interior amenities include OnStar, dual-zone HVAC, electro-chromic ISRV with compass and exterior temp gauge, leather-wrapped steering with secondary audio controls, six power points, sunroof, and more.

Under the hood is an Eaton supercharged, Vortec 6.0L V-8 with a ceramic-coated, low-restriction exhaust system. This powerplant is rated at more than 400 hp at 5,200 rpm and 470 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. A 4L65 electronically controlled automatic transmission shifts through four gears. The front suspension is independent with torsion bars, 46mm monotube gas shocks, and a 36mm front stabilizer bar. The rear suspension uses a five-link variable-rate, self-leveling air springs with onboard air compressor, 46mm monotube gas shocks, and a 32mm stabilizer bar. Traction control is brake-controlled single-wheel control capability with rear axle-locking differential. Power steering is a recirculating ball type with a variable steering ratio of 15/13:1. The four-wheel disc brakes feature four-wheel/four-channel ABS, dual-piston calipers with dynamic rear proportioning. An aluminum front skidplate and full tubular-steel rocker panel protect the H2's nether regions. Obviously, there are a lot of features, and this is just the short list.

The H2 can attack 60 percent grades with a 40 percent side slope and has a fording depth of 20 inches. Not bad for a luxury utility vehicle that goes head-to-head with such gentlemen adventurers as the Range Rover, the Lexus LX 470, and the Lincoln Navigator. And with an open bed that accommodates messier chores, the H2 SUT is indeed a vehicle for all seasons and reasons.

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