2009 HHR Panel New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet HHR is a car-based retro-wagon that celebrates its Chevy heritage with styling inspired by the iconic 1949 Suburban. HHR stands for Heritage High Roof, a reference to the early high-roofed Suburbans and panel trucks that inspired the design of the HHR.
Based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Cobalt, the HHR was first launched as a 2006 model. The HHR competes most closely with the Chrysler PT Cruiser, but also with Honda Element, Ford Escape, and Jeep Liberty.
For 2008, the HHR lineup gets a new high-performance SS model.
We found the Chevy HHR 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 HHR Panel Van features smooth, windowless side panels and rear cargo doors with no handles. The rear cargo doors open via an instrument panel button. While it’s more Spartan inside and provides seating for only two, the Panel best exemplifies the early Suburban heritage.
The HHR SS is the most fun to drive, launching quickly off the line and offering sharp handling. On an autocross circuit, we found it handled like a sports car.
The HHR interior isn't as functional as we'd like, however. And the base cloth fabric left us wishing we'd ordered the optional leather.
The Chevrolet HHR remains relatively unchanged for 2007 with the exception of slightly more powerful engines and a few additional new color choices. New exterior color options for 2007 include Imperial Blue Metallic and Golden Teal Metallic; a new interior color option is Ebony.
The 2008 Chevy HHR comes in three distinctively different configurations: HHR, HHR Panel, and the new HHR SS. It comes in several trim levels, including the base LS and two LT grades. The standard engine is a 2.2-liter four cylinder, while a 2.4-liter engine is optional. Each comes with a five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic. The SS comes with a high-performance 2.0-liter turbocharged engine.
The LS ($16,515) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power windows and locks, and a substantial level of standard features and equipment. The LT ($17,175) adds an MP3 player with a jack for an iPod, eight ways to adjust the driver's seat, and satin chrome trim.
The 2LT package ($2,395) adds the 2.4-liter Ecotec engine, anti-lock brakes, traction control, fog lights, a 260-watt Pioneer sound system with seven speakers, 17-inch aluminum wheels, sport-tuned suspension and bright chrome trim.
The HHR Panel 2LT ($20,850) comes with the Satin Chrome exterior package, sports suspension, 17-inch painted aluminum wheels. The Pioneer sound system is optional. The base HHR Panel LS ($16,820) is equipped similarly to the five-passenger LS.
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). Stabilitrak electronic stability control is now standard across the entire HHR model range.