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Chevy HHR Test Drive - What Did You Think?



  • Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,020
    A reporter from a national publication is looking to talk to anyone who has considered buying a Chevrolet HHR in the last several weeks but ultimately decided against it. The reporter is especially interested in anyone who decided that there were so many HHRs now on the road that it’s lost some of its novelty. Please contact by December 25 and provide a daytime number that the reporter can contact you back at.

    Community Manager If you have any questions or concerns about the Forums, send me an email,, or click on my screen name to send a personal message.

  • Last summer I rented a HHR 2.4 auto and was supremely impressed with the entire package. With that memory in mind, I tested a 2.2 auto today and was underwhelmed. It just seemed buzzy and noisy. Is there that much difference between the two?
  • Currently looking to replace my Ranger pick-up, coming off-lease in a few months. HHR exterior styling piqued my interest, so I test drove an LT 2.4A at a local dealer. Initial impressions: The "tunnel" effect of small glass didn't bother me. I'm used to the fairly short, more vertical windshield from the Ranger. Overall, the glass had the feeling of riding a "chop job". Not necessarily bad, just different. I liked the level of equipment on the unit (it was pretty tricked out). Best feature, the cargo area with rear seat folded: loved the large flat plastic floored expanse. Worst feature: engine noise in the cab. I'm a forty-something driver, and the two most important factors in my purchase will be comfort and perceived value. The engine sounded like a typical low tech 4 cylinder: wheezy and overworked. It only bothered me because I could hear it ( :) ), pretty much at any speed. The HHR literature emphasizes the use of "quiet steel" and noise suppression, but if this is the result, they need to go back to the drawing board. I'm afraid I would come to hate those sounds (and the car) over time. Too bad, because otherwise the HHR seems like a contender.
  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,233
    I can't tell for sure of course, but I suspect it may have been a more noisey and overworked because on the lot the dealer may settled for putting in 87 octane instead of reccomended premium. My 2.4 doesn't seem at all bad for noise when driving under normal conditions, but of course gets a little buzzy if I am playing and get the rpms up. I am currently weaning mine off premium (trying 89 octane) as its all to easy to spin the tires from a dead stop on hill when wet with my winter tires (nevermind frozen conditions)
  • smogdungsmogdung Posts: 349
    I think if you dig around on the internet you'll discover that the 2.4 is not a low tech 4. The 2.0 Turbo version is the highest specific output engine GM has ever created...including the 7L 500+ HP engine in the Z-06 Vette. Unfortunately the 2.0 turbo is only available in the Solstice GXP & Sky Redline right now. We've enjoyed ours so much that even though it's been in the shop >week with a transmission fluid leak....we can't wait to get it back!
  • Didn't mean to imply that the engine was low tech, just that it sounded low tech. Perception of sound is obviously subjective, but the engine sounded "coarse" and was more noticeable than it should have been (in my opinion) when I was not pushing the vehicle. I'm looking for more "purr" and less "roar". ;)
  • smogdungsmogdung Posts: 349
    I've mentioned this before (here), with the 2.4L automatic you'll get about 27 mpg if ya drive the way I do....If ya want to drag race from a stop light...just put your left foot on the brake...& give gas at the same'll twist those 17s...even with traction it back today....quite happy 115+ the mpg suck.
  • gang this is a WEAK car... very little power, no acceleration. Hard to tackle the hills in San Francisco.

    But the breaking point is that the windows are unuseable - far too much wind buffeting, so much in fact that when I first had the rear windows down I thought I had a flat tire! Mind-numbing loud pulses of wind, impossible to drive the car with the rear windows down.... and what the heck is a car worth if you can't have the dang windows open?? Man this is one hell of a lousy design... can't they test such things and correct them before putting them on the market or are we so conditioned to junk cars that we accept such disasters? I wouldn't buy this car at any price... why would anyone buy a car in which you cannot lower the windows because of the noise of the non-areodynamic design? And read about all the other problems noted elsewhere on forums... whew!
  • paopao Posts: 1,867
    did you have the 2.4L engine? manual or automatic? for the wind noise...did you just lower the back windows or all of them...I would challenge you to find any SUV or cross over that doesnt have wind buffeting with the rear windows down only.......I have experience that in my KIA Sorento as well as a Ford Explorer...its not unique to the HHR
  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,233
    The air buffeting affect is pretty common, mini-vans included and is pretty easy to fix, just lower the front window a bit. I would imagine a hilly place like San fran or Seattle could present challenge for almost any 4-banger that has any weight byt perhaps as Pao said the 2.4 with suggested premium fuel woul have done better
  • I test drove the HHR yesterday and it was a 2.2liter with 30 miles on it. Maroon color. The car looked nice with the color.

    On the road the car was not the smoothest chevy, but definately smoother than a PT Cruiser. Within the first 2 miles I noticed a vibration coming from the front of the car. I then had the car on the freeway and the vibration was still there. The only other time I experienced a car with a problem like this was in a new 06 Jetta. Both of these cars are made in Mexico, the HHR and Jetta. I had test driven over 200+ new cars in my lifetime.

    The interior was cheap feeling. It didn't have the leather option, but a wood trim would be nice also. There is ample leg room in the back, which is about the best plus I could find in this car.

    Though the side and front crash are safe, there is another person with a broken neck and vertebrae in the Crash and Safety HHR forums. I now don't trust the roof design of this car.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    Yes, like all the poor unfortunate American made Ford Explorers where it was more than just bad tires that contributed to the deaths of several dozen drivers involved in roll-overs.
  • ezshift5ezshift5 West coastPosts: 853
    gang this is a WEAK car... very little power, no acceleration. Hard to tackle the hills in San Francisco.

    .....with my venerated 1982 VW diesel pickup nearing 300k, I looked at the HHR with the rear seats folded down - - - - and it approximated the VW's pickup bed (but added a roof!!!)

    So I test drove a used 2006 with the 2.4/5M combo. Clutch was good;5M linkage not as good as my Accord 6M - - - but then again few are. On the freeway, I've no complaints. Actually, it's a nice little trucklet.

    I'm ambivalent: Sure, it's a nice little vehicle (BUT):

    1. The VW: paid for long ago (I've had it almost 24 years). Capable of 50+ MPG, it's just plain hard to let go..........

    2. The Accord 6M just makes most other cars seem crude.

    I guess I'm stuck (I'm too cost conscious to go for a BMW - - - - the new diesel will rate a test drive - - - - - but i reckon it'll take 50k of my Naval Reserve pay).

    ....ah the agony of choice.

    best, ez....
  • I've been looking at getting a new car and I've narrowed it down to either the HHR or the Malibu. I stopped by my local Chevy dealer today and was able to compare the two side by side and take both vehicles out for a quick test drive. I drove the HHR first and here's what I thought of the vehicle. I tested a 2009 HHR LS automatic with the 2.2L.

    I like the styling of the HHR and the wagon versatility. I also love the elevated seating position and it was very easy to enter and exit the vehicle. You sit very upright in this car and I found the seats firm but comfortable. I liked the folding center armrests also and they're nicely padded. LOTS of hard plastic everywhere, even on the dashboard and door armrests. Actually, the biggest disappointment in the whole car are the hard, cheap, hollow door panels. I liked the controls however, and the radio and climate control knobs had a quality feel. The power window switches are now on the door armrest on the 2009 models. Some other changes from the 2008 models: The "ambient" light overhead is gone and there is now a "leather" boot around the automatic transmission lever which looked very nice. Acceleration was adequate. It was a little sluggish, especially when I was merging onto the freeway, but then again I've always had 4 cylinder engines so it's not a big deal for me. You can definitely hear the engine during acceleration but it quiets down nicely once you're up and running. I was really surprised how smooth and comfortable the ride was and the cabin is pretty quiet also. I liked the XM radio and iPod jack and the salesman left me alone with the vehicle to play with the stereo for awhile. It actually sounded pretty good and I thought it sounded BETTER than the similar stereo in the Malibu. I also noticed that the 2009 HHR is now listed as getting 30 mpg on the highway, the same as the Malibu 4 cylinder.

    I really liked the HHR and after driving the Malibu, it's going to be a tough choice. I think I'm leaning towards the HHR. With the current "employee pricing" promotion the HHR LS with automatic will be about $2000 cheaper than the Malibu. The Malibu WAS quieter and had a smoother ride and much nicer interior materials (plus I love the Malibu's "ambient" lighting on the center console and door handles). The only disappointing thing on the HHR for me was the cheap, hard plastic materials everywhere in the cabin. But maybe for the $2000 savings, better sounding stereo and wagon versatility I can live with that.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    Look at the cheap plastic as more durable and less chance of damage. It doesn't bother me though I don't have one yet?
  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    To me sometimes you have to look at the vehicle and think what it stated purpose is. To me it is for carrying things and a big chance of scraching some trim.
  • morsorucemorsoruce Posts: 1
    A bit of a slug, in the acceleration department (well, what do I expect - 2.2 liters in 3100 pounds, vs. 2.0 in my stick shift Focus ZX3 weighing about 2600 pounds - even a stick shift can't make up for that).

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