1996 Model Review

Apr. 01, 2002 By Gerald Luiz

As usual, let's start with the driving impressions. The 96 turbo diesel motor offers 20 hp and 95 lbs-ft more than the non-turbo diesel (same as the 95 motor). With such a increase, I expected a big difference. Around town, it had a little more pickup off the line. It did seem to accelerate a little easier, winding up more smoothly. On the highway, it pulled nicely and kept up with traffic easily, with power on tap for overtaking. Overall I felt the engine performed better but didn't notice as large a performance difference as expected.

The new turbo diesel uses an electronically control fuel injection system. The accelerator pedal is now drive by wire, i.e. no linkage. It lacks the feel of a normal throttle and it took me a while to get used to it. I did not feel I had the same amount of control at low throttle opennings which might be a problem off-road. It might be something you get used to.

[Update: people tell me they don't even notice the difference after a while.]

Since the motor didn't seem to wind up as much, the sound was decreased. In fact, I found the sound level to be slightly lower all around compared to the non-turbo diesel wagons I had driven before. It just didn't reverberate as much inside. It could be due to the new side exit muffler instead of the rear muffler of 94-95.

[Update: others report that the 96 models are louder than the previous years.]

The gasoline motor is unchanged from 95. See the 95 Review for impressions. In California, only the gasoline and turbo diesel motors are available.

[Update: the gasoline motor was discontinued late in the year because of availability from GM.]

It handled the same as always, nimble for its mass. If the body lift changed things, it must be pretty subtle. I do not like the lowered airlift loops; it just looks wrong to me. Then again, I think it would look funny if they were gone all together. Similarly, the light duty bumper doesn't fit either. The extra tank is a great addition and well done. I hear that they will not be offered for retrofit into the older years.

[Update: the light rear bumpers are reported to bend very easily off-road.]

The new interior is definitely different. I like the addition of the tachometer. I am one of those people who like to know what's going on. The clock is nice too but it sure is loud when the truck is off. Both units are will integrated into the dash. I also like the new HVAC controls. Being analog, you can quickly adjust the settings with good feedback without even looking at the controls. I didn't find the overall performance of the HVAC system to be any different, however, the new driver vent actually works in the 96's.

The CTIS selector valve is gone, replaced by an electronic system with a rocker switch next to the inflate/deflate switch. The up position directs air to the front, center to both, and down to the rear. Note that there is no off position.

Price has gone up again but that is no big surprise. The TD motor comes with a hefty price and I am undecided if it is worth it. If you tow or live in high altitudes, maybe. Otherwise the HUMMER is still the great vehicle it has been.

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