Chevrolet has been known to create some of the most iconic cars in automotive history. And recently, they have unabashedly tapped on this rich heritage to inspire some of its present day vehicles. There is the SSR (inspired by the El Camino) pickup, and there is the new Camaro (inspired by the first generation Camaro). And then there is the Chevrolet HHR. Produced since 2005, it is inspired by the 4th generation Chevrolet Suburban of the late 1940s. So is the 2011 Chevrolet HHR worth more than just a trip in memory lane? We shall see.
Interior & Exterior
For something that is so named because it stands for “Heritage High Roof”, it sure lives up to the heritage part. Inspired by the 1949 Chevrolet Suburban, it has looks that are very desirable to say the least. This shape creates a double edged effect though. Entry and exit is simple, but visibility both on front and rear is compromised. There are 2 body trims available for the HHR, a panel wagon, and a 4 door wagon. The 4 door wagon is a 5 seater.
However, to create more luggage space, both the rear seat and the front passenger seat can be folded. As for the panel wagon, seating is limited to 2. And while the interior isn’t exactly luxurious, it is very much functional. The dashboard layout is simple, comes with a radio that has AM/FM, CD player, and MP3 playback, satellite radio, and auxiliary jack.
Optional equipment includes a premium sound system, a USB plug, rear parking assist, and a leather steering wheel with controls. And cargo capability is one of its biggest strengths. For the 4 door wagon, it is capable of up to 57.7 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded, and 63.1 cubic feet is the capacity of the panel wagon. As for safety equipment, it has traction control, the stability control, and anti lock brakes. However, crash testing deemed it to be a less than ideal place to be.
There are 2 types of engines available for this car: a 2.2 liter 4 cylinder engine that is capable of producing 155 horsepower, and a 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine that has a maximum output rated at 172 horsepower. The standard transmission is a 5 speed manual gearbox, but a 4 speed automatic option is also available. The fuel mileage of both engines is almost similar: it is rated at 22 to 32 miles per gallon on the average. In addition, it can be driven using E85 fuel.
As for handling, it is uncertain if the Chevrolet people have even thought of making it sporty. Sure, it’s compliant to bumps and it’s comfortable, but it is not exactly the best handling wagon around. Sure, it can outmaneuver crossovers and small SUVs, but for a station wagon, it is not the most nimble car around.
The Scion xB (MSRP $16,800; 22 city / 28 hwy) and the Kia Sportage (MSRP $19,995; 20 city / 25 hwy) have taken aim at competing closely against the HHR. In terms of horsepower and fuel economy, the HHR outdistance the two imports. The Sportage does offer a better bumper to bumper warranty compared to the HHR and the xB. All three are worth a look if you’re in the market for an all purpose wagon.
Pros & Cons
Reviews for those that were able to drive the Chevrolet HHR have mixed feelings about it. Sure, people do like its retro exterior, but some say that it’s a bit dated. There might be great seats and impeccable luggage space in both the panel van and the wagon, but rearward visibility is a huge concern. Sure, it is an economical choice when it comes to mileage, but both engines seemed lethargic by comparison. And while its suspension performs optimally as a cruiser, it doesn’t quite do well as a speedster.
All in all, the 2011 Chevrolet HHR has its highs and lows. It’s gaining in age (in fact, it is in its final year), but still it is a great car. It has great traits that make you ignore some of its deficiencies, and this is still a car that has a unique character.
66 out of 100
What others say:
“The 2011 Chevrolet HHR is not at all a good choice for carrying passengers comfortably, but it excels with cargo.”Car Connection
“Capable and fairly sporty with good around-town maneuverability. HHR tends to noseplow in faster corners, though body lean is well controlled. The brakes provide good stopping control, but pedal feel is spongy. Again, the 2LT's sport suspension makes little difference.”Consumer Guide
“The HHR has easy access and a flexible cargo space. Handling is secure but not agile.”MSN Auto-ConsumerReports
“Lackluster handling and braking; some interior materials look and feel cheap; lacks a telescoping steering wheel.”Edmunds
“If you like your retro style backed with substance, the functional, comfortable and eager 2011 Chevrolet HHR will satisfy you beyond its intriguing looks.”KBB
|Vehicle Type: Hatchback||Base Price: $18,720.00|
|Fuel Tank Capacity: 16.2 gallons (61 liters)||MPG: 22 city / 32 hwy|
|Length: 176.2 in. (447.5 cm)||Width: 69.1 in. (175.5 cm)|
|Height: 63.1 in. (160 cm)||Wheel Base: 103.5 in. (262 cm)|
|Curb Weight: 3155 lbs (1431 kg)||Ground Clearance: 6.3 in. (16 cm)|
|Luggage Capacity: 25.2 cu ft||Maximum Seating: 5 people|
|Engine: 2.2L 16-valve DOHC inline-4||Displacement: 134 cu in|
|Horsepower: 155 HP||Max RPM: 6100 RPM|
|Torque: 150 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm||Transmission: 5-Speed Manual|
|0-60 mph: NA||Max Towing Capacity: 1000 lbs (453 kgs)|
|Option:HHR Panel LS||MSRP: $19,590; MPG: 22 city / 32 hwy|
|Option:HHR LT||MSRP: $19,720; MPG: 22 city / 32 hwy|