2006 HHR New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet HHR was launched as an all-new model for 2006. It's built on the platform of the winning Chevy Cobalt small sedan, and incorporates the Cobalt's best features: engine, transmission and suspension. The HHR is meant to compete against the 2WD PT Cruiser, as well as the likes of Jeep Liberty, Ford Escape and Honda Element, which offer four-wheel drive.
As if to add obscurity to curiosity, HHR stands for 'Heritage High Roof.' The roof of the Chevrolet HHR two-wheel-drive SUV is high, and its heritage dates to the 1949 GMC Suburban panel delivery truck. The HHR is on a smaller scale, but there are no bones about its retro styling.
We found the HHR to be fun to drive. It isn't a sports car, but it's nimble and we were pleased with its acceleration. The HHR feels more responsive than its horsepower, torque, and transmission ratio numbers suggest. Plus it gets decent fuel economy. The interior wasn't as functional as we'd have liked, however, and the base cloth fabric left us wishing we'd ordered the optional leather.
The Chevrolet HHR comes in a simple LS model, plus a 1LT and 2LT. The LS comes standard with GM's solid 2.2-liter, double-overhead-cam four-cylinder Ecotec engine, making 143 horsepower; the 1LT offers an optional 2.4-liter version of that same engine rated at 172 horsepower; and the 2LT makes that powerplant standard. All three models come standard with a five-speed manual transmission; a four-speed automatic is optional ($1000) and comes packaged with remote starting.
Standard equipment on the LS ($15,990) includes air conditioning, power windows and locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, front intermittent wipers, rear-window wiper, power driver's seat with lumbar support, and 16-inch aluminum wheels.
The 1LT ($16,990) adds an MP3 player with a jack for an iPod, eight ways to adjust the driver's seat, and satin chrome trim.
The 2LT ($18,790) adds the 2.4-liter Ecotec engine, anti-lock brakes, traction control, fog lamps, a 260-watt Pioneer sound system with seven speakers, 17-inch aluminum wheels, sport-tuned suspension and bright chrome trim.
Safety features include optional front and rear side-curtain airbags ($395). ABS comes standard on the 2LT, and is optional for the LS and 1LT ($400). Electronic stability control is not available.