This new model from Chevrolet offers some huge storage space and is a surprisingly fuel efficient driver too. The design of the HHR is an obvious response to the Chrysler PT Cruiser, but is slightly boxier and just a little bit larger. This oddly shaped vehicle is actually being classified as a truck. The back seats fold down flat to offer almost 58 cubic feet of cargo room. The HHR has been around since 2006 and it has surpassed the PT Cruisers sales in its second year on the market.
This is a highly versatile vehicle and offers 32 MPG on the highway, which is the highest in its class. There are talks of replacing the HHR with a newer more refined utility vehicle, but this model is still shipping next year. The HHR start around $18,000 and it may be considered a steal for that when you consider its amazing storage space and very competitive fuel economy numbers. The HHR is does not have a large enough engine to be used for towing, but is good for lugging around a large load.
Bodystyles: Crossover SUV
Engines: 2.2L I-4, 2.4L I-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Models: LS, 1LT, 2LT
There are no major changes to the HHR for the 2011 model year. Minor changes are two new colors, Mocha Steel Metallic and Black Granite Metallic, and now the HHR's MY LINK package includes a free year of XM Satellite radio. MY LINK combines the radio/CD player/MP3 playback and USB port with Bluetooth phone connectivity and OnStar Directions and Connections service plan. MY LINK includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and a leather-wrapped shift knob.
No exterior styling changes for '11. The "heritage" in HHR refers to styling cues lifted from late ‘40s Chevy Suburbans. The HHR panel van, with no rear-door exterior handles or windows, has serious competition from Ford's Transit Connect.
The two-seat panel van features an unfinished cargo space for small businesses and two interior switches for the rear doors. The five-seater's front passenger seat folds flat, and there are lots of extra cubbies and features.
Performance & Handling
The HHR handles better than a conventional crossover/utility, not as good as a compact car. Ride is a bit harsh and unrefined, but there's less body roll compared with the PT Cruiser. The 2.2-liter engine is rated 155 horsepower and the 2.4 makes 172 horsepower (both on unleaded regular). There's no fuel-economy advantage to the 2.2 -- it's a price-point engine option.
HHR received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's top, five-star crash ratings for driver and front-seat passenger in a frontal crash and side-impact crash for front and rear passengers. It has a four-star rollover rating.
EPA Fuel Economy
LS, 1LT, Panel LS, Panel 1LT (2.2L): 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway (manual); 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway
LS, 1LT, Panel LS, Panel 1LT, 2LT, Panel 2LT (2.4L): 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway (manual); 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway
You Won't Like
- Aged styling
- Four-speed automatic
- Interior material quality
A slightly improved PT Cruiser
If You Like This Vehicle
- Chrysler PT Cruiser
- Honda Element
- Scion xB