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Chevy HHR Test Drive - What Did You Think?

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAMember Posts: 9,372
Have you taken an HHR out for a spin? Well this is the place to let us know what you thought of the experience.


  • weatherman3weatherman3 Member Posts: 9
    test drove the HHR today, it was LS with automatic, everything else was standard LS trim, sticker price was $17K salesperson didn't know much about, in fact he told me it had abs but that isn't even available on LS , only LT. but the drive what about what i expected. poor acceleration with the 2.2 L, it was myself, wife, and salesperson riding along. brakes felt mussy especially during hard braking before taking some cornering. vehicle feels much bigger than it is. it reminded me of my mom's old 92 ford tempo, cabin fever sets in real quick behind the wheel, you feel like your looking out at the road through a port hole, and looking through the sides and rear view mirrors is the same, parascope anyone, needless to say the view is extremely unconvention, basically the same as the 1949 suburban though, they certainly got the look and all the ergonomics to go with. surprising my biggest gripe and complaint is with the seats! I have sat in alot of chevy cars, the greatest by far is the tahoe which i have 2 mounted to a bench in my garage for relaxing, the worst by far is the HHR. i am not kidding when i say the seat fabric is the quality of your local walmart fabric store. i mean everything about it is terrible, the fabric is so smooth your rear slides around in the seat, the thread count looks so low you swear you can see the foam cushion. guys, it is not the least bit durable. seat adjustability is very good, but support is very bad, i am 6 4" and my wife is 5 4", neither of us could get a truly comfortable seating position and we don't suffer from any back problems. anyways, back to the drive, i played with the accessories while my wife drove, okay standard stereo, most everything was located on the center control stack, easy to use, but usuall cheap plastic knobs and buttons. noticed considerable power loss when engaging A/C on and off. typical of a 4 cylinder but i can imagine much worse with another person and a load of cargo in the rear. suspension handling was comfortable, soft, but not the least bit sporty. i didn't jerk the wheel, but i made some moves around traffic and it felt much more dramatic than it actually was. the cargo area is the best part of the show, drop the rear seats down, and you'll have all the midside suv owners envy every square inch. you get a rear carpeted mat to cover the really cheap plastic floor which is nice. dont get me wrong, i like the easy cleanup of the hard floor, but it is so cheap looking anything with a sharp edge will tear right into it. I gotta give a big thumbs down to the HHR. the styling is ultra cool looking to me, but that's simply not enough to overcome being down on power, downright uncomfortable to drive, and it's poor handling and cheap materials. Maybe the LT2 will offer more promise, but at 20K , what doesn't? :surprise:

    p.s. i forgot to mention the gimick cargo cover under the rear hatch, supposedly it slides out and fuctions as a table for tailgating, however it's only rearward support is a single thin plastic leg which the salesman could never get to work right. ie. it folded up when i laid my arm on it. basically an engineering joke if you ask me.
  • auntnitaauntnita Member Posts: 3
    Dear Weatherman, I've been an HHR fan(atic) since first learning of it late last year. Have been panting in anticipation of seeing, driving, and owning one. Last week I got to test drive a 2LT ($23K+). I have to be honest and say some of my impressions of the vehicle mirrored yours.

    Thought it was just me, but when I posted on another board, I said driving felt a bit claustrophobic. I thought it was because of the plastic covering everything, but it truly was because of the windshield. It's so small. Also noticed that the front door windows are small, too, probably because of moulding near the dash that is so large.

    The acceleration on the 2LT was pretty good, but I wanted the 2.2 engine because the 2.4 takes premiums fuel. That's a big issue with me the way gasoline prices are going. If you say the 2.2 is sluggish, I'll take your word for it.

    There was a little noise on acceleration, but that didn't last long. After you got going it was quiet.

    I had leather seats, so the fabric quality was not an issue.

    Another thing, I know they put rear and side view mirrors on cars so you don't have to turn your head to see beside and behind you, but no mirror is perfect and you are always going to have blind spots. Trying to see what may be next to or directly behind you on the passenger side was nearly impossible. You have to TRY to find a point of visibility in back opening yourself up to crashing into something in front of you.

    I've been on such a quest for this vehicle for so long, and have let all the current offers pass me by because I had to have an HHR, but after reading your comments and a couple of others on other sites who've posted honest assessments of the car, and with a salesman telling me if I didn't act now I'd probably have to pay a premium over the MSRP, I think I will have to pass on the HHR in its current form.

    Don't get me wrong, I LOVE looking at this vehicle. For the past week, I've still been trying to find one with the options I wanted to purchase. After reading other views on the drive, have to admit I've been in denial. What I've thought were personal perceptions are realities. I just feel very sad actually driving it and seeing its limitations... from my perspective, anyway.
  • smariasmaria Member Posts: 279
    the cargo area is the best part of the show, drop the rear seats down, and you'll have all the midside suv owners envy every square inch.

    I was considering the HHR, but I couldn't wait for it to come out. I ended up compromising on the exterior styling and getting a Mazda5 instead (for about $18k, a huge cargo area if the 3rd row of seats is folded flat). From your review, it sounds like I would have been disappointed with the HHR...makes me feel better about not being able to wait for it.
  • csandstecsandste Member Posts: 1,866
    Same here. I was waiting for this but popped for a $16K Maxx last February. Like lots of visibility and altho. the Maxx is bad at the D pillar, it's great in other respects. Don't like being in a tunnel. The Maxx reminds me of my kids early 90's Camry's-- excellent visibility all around.
  • micwebmicweb Member Posts: 1,617
    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).

    Handled much better than the automatic I drove a few weeks ago (why? probably a difference in subjective impressions - the automatic test drive was mostly straightline, the stick shift test drive today had some curves, and once the car hunkered down it gripped well).

    Nice interior.

    I can see why it is popular, but I am migrating more towards a Malibu with the 2.2 (even more of a slug, but not unexpected!).
  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Member Posts: 588
    Why would you buy a Malibu with the 2.2? The 3.5 V6 is smoother, quieter, quite a bit more powerful, and returns essentially the same mileage in normal driving. This is speaking from experience, btw. We recently traded ours off, but not because of any shortcoming in the vehicle. Entirely because with 2 children and lots of group activities involving them, my wife wanted a minivan. While we owned the Malibu I routinely achieved 31+ mpg in 80-90% highway driving, with a low of 25 mpg in heavy city driving. In long all-highway trips I actually managed to hit a high of 34.5 mpg. Not too shabby for a ~3500 lb 200 hp 210 lb.ft torque 6 cylinder.. ;)

    Oh, and btw, you don't have to get all the other extras (I consider 'em goodies, but I understand lots of people don't care to pay for the frills). The 3500 is available in base model sedans. In fact, a coworker bought one that was practically a stripper except for the 6 cylinder about 3 months ago.
  • micwebmicweb Member Posts: 1,617
    Thanks for the great advice! The only LS ("stripper") models with V6's out here are the "fleet" vehicles I have seen on some lots. Otherwise you have to upgrade (this year) to a 2LT I believe to add the V6.

    This is so that people who now want the 4 can upgrade it from an LS to a 1LT and still keep the 4.

    I kind of like 4's too...call me crazy, it dates back to Fiat 128 days when a DOHC engine was really cool....
  • geemacgeemac Member Posts: 28
    Where did you find a V6 in an HHR? The biggest engine is the 2.4, which is available in either of the LT models. The LS comes only with the 2.2.
  • poncho167poncho167 Member Posts: 1,178
    Though the 3.5 L engine gets very good mileage, on the Malibu forum a lot of people achieve upper 30's mpg with the 2.2 L engine. One person has gotten as much as 41 mpg not using his computer reading.

    I would rather have the 2.2 L engine in the HHR and put the extra money into something else. I wouldn't be drag racing this vehicle, and I have been driving for mileage for over 10-years-now.
  • parky129parky129 Member Posts: 50
    People are mixing other cars and car models into the HHR site causing confusion. The 2006 HHR is only available with either the 2.2 litre 4 or the 2.4 litre 4 IT IS NOT AVAILABLE WITH A V6. 2.2 4 only in the LS, 2.4 4 available as an option in the 1LT, standard in the 2LT.
  • allfiredupallfiredup Member Posts: 736
    The 2.2 works fine for average drivers, but for those of us with a heavier foot the 2.4 is a much better choice. That is particularly true with the automatic transmission.

    The 2.2 does have decent torque and at half throttle it seems to pull quite well from a stop. It's only when/if you floor it does it seem weak. Most drivers won't ever do that.

    The 2.4 auto I drove had a lot more kick than the 2.2 manual. Too bad the 2.4 is so hard to find with manual, but the majority of buyers probably wouldn't be interested.
  • geemacgeemac Member Posts: 28
    I had no problem finding a 1LT with 2.4 and 5-speed in my geographic area. I visited the dealer on saturday and had the vehicle in my driveway on tuesday. My dealer located it about 150 miles away and had it delivered.
  • gogophers1gogophers1 Member Posts: 218
    I was finally able to test drive an HHR stick the other day at a dealership in a Minneapolis suburb. I have been waiting quite some time to do this (I drove a couple of 2.2L autos last Sept.), but no manuals have been available up here until very recently.

    Before the test-drive I was pretty sure an HHR 2.2L stick would be the perfect replacement for my current vehicle, but after, I'm not so sure. My main concern is with the notchiness in the test car's linkage - particularly going into 1st and 2nd gears. The clutch was pretty much perfect - light; not too much travel and smooth engagement. But those neutral-1st and 1st-2nd shifts were very, very balky. I do a lot of driving in heavy city traffic and that spells trouble.

    I'd love it if some HHR stick owners could chime in on this. Did I get a bad sample or is this pretty much par for the course? Perhaps it's something I could get used to, but I said the same thing about a certain Isuzu Stylus about 12 years ago. I bought it despite the linkage, never got used to it (in fact, I tired of it quickly) and was relieved when we (the car and I) parted ways.
  • micwebmicweb Member Posts: 1,617
    When I test drove the HHR with a stick and 2.2, I didn't notice any notchiness; either I got a better sample or I am less sensitive to this. However, the HHR didn't seem appreciably faster (actually, any faster) with the stick vs. the automatic I had driven a different day.
  • smogdungsmogdung Member Posts: 349
    Anybody test drive a 5 speed 2.4 L yet? That would basically be like a Solstice Stationwagon....I guess???
  • allfiredupallfiredup Member Posts: 736
    Before the test-drive I was pretty sure an HHR 2.2L stick would be the perfect replacement for my current vehicle, but after, I'm not so sure. My main concern is with the notchiness in the test car's linkage - particularly going into 1st and 2nd gears. The clutch was pretty much perfect - light; not too much travel and smooth engagement. But those neutral-1st and 1st-2nd shifts were very, very balky.

    I noticed the same thing in my test drive of a 2.2/manual. It was very balky and notchy. It felt very similar to a friend's Saturn Ion 5-speed. Perhaps years of driving Honda and Mazda manuals has spoiled me. Some may not be bothered by this, but sounds like you were as was I. I'd suggest trying another one just to make sure.

    Perhaps it's something I could get used to, but I said the same thing about a certain Isuzu Stylus about 12 years ago.

    So you're the guy who bought one! I think they sold maybe four or five of them. =)
  • gogophers1gogophers1 Member Posts: 218
    So you're the guy who bought one!

    Indeed. In fact, for the time I spent living up in the Fargo/Moorhead "metropolitan area" back in 1994, I never saw another one. And other than that d*** unpleasant stick, I loved the car (great "handling by Lotus" suspension and razor sharp steering).

    I think you might have hit the nail on the head when you mentioned your being "spoiled" by certain sticks. For whatever reason, the feel of many domestic manuals leaves me cold. It's like the manufacturer is going out of its way to even offer it, so you'll take what they give you or you'll shop over at the import stores.

    Mazda's are ok by me as are Honda's, but the I prefer the feel of VW's and Hyundai's manuals. It's odd. But it's a personal thing and the difference in feel between two manuals can be - and often is - night and day. That's why I have never and will never order a manual-equipped model of which I've only test-driven the slushbox version. I've never driven a "nightmare" automatic (they all seem about the same to me: you shift the car from park to drive and then to park again). I have driven nightmare sticks though.
  • ray80ray80 Member Posts: 1,655
    Ours is the 2.4l 5 spd. The Pontiac version of this engine has 5 more ponies then the Chevy version, plus the HHR is about 400lbs heavier so its not quite the same ;)
  • pepjrppepjrp Member Posts: 5
    We (wife and I) like the exterior and the 2.2 engine seemed to have enough power for everyday driving. We did not get a chance to drive it on the highway. Salesman said it was low on gas and did not want to drive very far, but when I got behind the wheel the gauge showed half full! He was not a very good salesman and new little about the car.
    The engine, transmission, brakes, road feel were all very good.

    My wife and I were both disappointed in the HHR LS interior. I am only 5'10", but the room up front seemed very limited, pedals took up all of the floorboard, no place to rest my left foot comfortably. As noted elsewhere, poor visibility, hard to see stoplights through the windshield, and rear visibility was downright unsafe.
    Also noted the hard, cheap, plastic throughout.
    I will say the cargo area was impressive.

    If they ever fix the ergonomics/visibility issues, I would consider buying this car, but as it is now would not buy it at any price due to unsafe visibility issues.
    I don't understand how a car company can release a vehicle with these kinds of design flaws. How could these obvious flaws go unnoticed during prototype testing?

    We really wanted to like this car, as it has the utility we are looking for. Our search continues....
  • smogdungsmogdung Member Posts: 349
    If the auto-dimmng mirror with compass seemed to block your vision...there is an unusual way to move it up....when ours came from the factory it was in the down..blocking position..hugh difference after figured it out. Our 2LT with electric seat....has large amount of up-down travel...I'm 6'1"...after seat & mirror adjustments....no problem. After > 1 year...still zero defects....love it...27 mpg overall. 2.4 auto. Repeat...the mirror moves way up!!! (unexpectedly).
  • Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
    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 [email protected] by December 25 and provide a daytime number that the reporter can contact you back at.
  • bobthebikebobthebike Member Posts: 11
    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?
  • skysensorskysensor Member Posts: 2
    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 Member Posts: 1,655
    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 Member 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!
  • skysensorskysensor Member Posts: 2
    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 Member 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 time....it'll twist those 17s...even with traction control....got it back today....quite happy again....at 115+ the mpg suck.
  • tgoreskitgoreski Member Posts: 1
    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 Member Posts: 1,867
    did you have the 2.4L engine? manual or automatic?.....as 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 Member Posts: 1,655
    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
  • stevesparadisestevesparadise Member Posts: 3
    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 Member 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 coastMember Posts: 858
    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....
  • chris80233chris80233 Member Posts: 4
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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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