2009 HHR 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 wagons that inspired its design.
Based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Cobalt, the HHR was first launched as a 2006 model. The HHR is similar in concept to the Chrysler PT Cruiser.
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 side cargo doors with no handles. The cargo doors open via an instrument panel button. While it's plainer inside and provides seating for only two, the Panel best exemplifies the early Suburban heritage.
The HHR SS is the most fun to drive of the HHR models, launching quickly off the line and offering sharp handling. On an autocross circuit, we found the SS model 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 2009 HHR is unchanged in any major way over the previous model, but there are numerous detail changes and upgrades. There is now an HHR Panel SS model. 2009 Chevy HHR SS models are available with an optional SS Performance Package, which includes Brembo four-piston front brake calipers and a limited-slip differential. Standard on all 2009 HHR models are XM Satellite Radio, anti-lock brakes, Stabilitrak vehicle stability control system with traction control, and roof-rail side-curtain airbags. The 2.2-liter engine delivers more power and better fuel economy for 2009, and there is E85 FlexFuel capability on the 2.2-liter and 2.4-liter engines. A back-up camera is available as an option, and there are a few other trim and convenience enhancements.
The 2009 Chevy HHR comes in two body styles, the four-door utility configuration with windows and back seats and the Panel truck with no side rear windows and no back seat. Each is available in LS, LT, and SS trim.
The standard engine is a 2.2-liter four-cylinder, rated at 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is optional, and included as standard with the 2LT trim; it's rated at 172 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque and delivers crisp, responsive performance. The SS version has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 260 horsepower (250 with the automatic transmission) and 260 pound-feet of torque (233 with the automatic) and cranks out seriously invigorating performance. Each engine is available with a five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic transmission.
The 2009 Chevrolet HHR LS ($18,720) comes with air conditioning, power windows, power mirrors, power locks, cruise control, and a substantial level of standard features and equipment. Options for the LS include remote start, the automatic transmission ($1,000), running boards, a spoiler, and a variety of other factory and dealer-installed features and accessories.
The HHR LT ($20,720) adds remote start as standard, an eight-way power driver's seat, driver's lumbar support, and the availability of many more optional extras, including a Bright Chrome Appearance Package, which includes 16-inch chrome alloy wheels, and the Sun and Fun Edition, which includes sunroof and the 16-inch wheels.
The HHR 2LT adds the LT Equipment Group ($1,700), which includes the 2.4-liter engine, 17-inch chrome alloy wheels, fog lamps, running boards, FE3 sport suspension, Bluetooth connectivity, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto-dimming mirror, and a Pioneer audio system with seven speakers and 260 watts.
The HHR SS ($24,815) adds the turbocharged engine, performance handling suspension, 18-inch polished alloy wheels, SS embroidered seats, a rear spoiler, and other items. Optional on the SS is the Performance Package ($895).
The HHR Panel comes in LS ($19,030), LT ($21,030), and SS ($25,135) versions. Options and prices for the Panel are the same as for the equivalent levels of the non-Panel versions.
Safety features include front airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, Stabilitrak electronic stability control with traction control, and tire-pressure monitoring.