I have owned both JK and H3. Some good and bad to each.
Jeep JK and Hummer H3 (File Photo)
Jeep guy all my life until recently. Had the JK Rubicon as a work/fun vehicle and due to endless water leaks in the Freedom Top had to have something done. Chrysler refused to do so much as replace the top, let alone the vehicle, so after a year of this (I travel with electronics) I went through with a repurchase. Hated myself for it since I love Jeeps.
Now have a 2009 H3 Championship Edition. Have had one issue, a vibrating noise in back of the center instrument stack that needs attention.
Both the H3 and the JK are similarly equipped with front and rear lockers, traction control and such. My Rubi was a two door so not a fair comparison for off road because the short wheelbase has it no matter what vehicle we are comparing.
My JK had the V6 and the H3 has the V8. Give one to the Hummer especially since I lost only a bit over 1 MPG and gained an engine that is a pleasure to drive.
The Rubicon gets the thumbs up for driving position, and the H3 for seat comfort. Visibility is better in the Rubicon but not as bad as some make out on the H3. If you compare the Unlimited to the H3, there is very little difference. I know as I drove one for the weekend.
The solid front axle in the JK is better for off road excursions if you need that extra flex. The IFS in the H3 is better if you do more highway driving. It handles more precisely and is a pleasure to drive. The JK front axle and suspension is old school and easy to work with.
As to the four wheel drive systems, many vehicles in the last few decades had full time four wheel drive as utilized in the H3. Dodge through its subsidiary, New Process Gear, developed it.
I have owned several full sized trucks with this feature and it is a fine system. Not only does it eliminate the need to constantly shift in and out of four wheel drive but it also reduces wear on the drive train, including tires. Some
Jeep models have used this system but never the Wrangler or its predecessors.
The ride in the H3 is similar to the Unlimited. Ergonomics are pretty similar as well in regards to convenience features. Both vehicles have decent looking plastic features on the doors, dash and cargo areas, which is a must for easy cleaning. The Jeep, true to tradition, allows carpet removal. Something I wish was available with the H3.
As for towing the H3 has it no matter what engine you get. Mine is rated for 6800 pounds, the best my JK would tow is 3500.
Bottom line is it boils down to compromises. What is your primary use and what do you really require?
I travel 16 counties for my business, mountains and city, and need a reliable stump puller especially on construction sites. Both vehicles worked well for me. If I were geared more to off-road the JK Rubicon is the ticket. Rubicon is less to purchase via sticker price, yet the 6k rebate on the H3 puts the Adventure with V8 at the same price.
We are fortunate in America to have so many fine choices. Either vehicle is great, one better than the other for specific needs.
One thing to keep in mind is that neither of these vehicles are related to the real military vehicles they imitate. The H1, yes, that is almost the same as the military version, but is no longer available to the public as of this year.
Willys Overland, that made the military Jeeps was spun off, the Jeep brand sold to American Motors and the military portion renamed AM General.
AM General was the division manufacturing the Jeeps for military use, the same company that now makes the Hummer. The Willys and HUMMVW vehicles are related as can obviously be seen in the grill similarities.
The current Chrysler Wrangler is no more a Willys Jeep than the Hummer H3 is a HUMMVW. They are both based upon massed produced, shared components.
That does not make either of them bad, it makes them affordable.Larry's Comment: Nice first hand comparison of two specialty vehicles that each have there own unique purpose and market.