Although it's one of the newest entries in the tall compact wagon segment, the 2007 Chevrolet HHR is still bested by most rivals in performance and overall packaging.
The 2007 Chevrolet HHR benefits from a small increase in output for both engines. The 2.2-liter is now rated at 149 horsepower and the 2.4-liter goes up to 175. An HHR Panel model, with windowless side panels, debuts later in the model year.Read more
Smooth and quiet ride, lots of cargo space, attractive interior, excellent visibility, versatile sound system.
Introduced just last year, the Chevrolet HHR competes against other stylish compact wagons such as the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Dodge Caliber, Mazda 3, Toyota Matrix and GM's own Pontiac Vibe. Much like the PT, the HHR's styling is inspired by the big-grilled, fat-fendered cars and trucks of the late '40s. The HHR's name refers to Heritage High Roof, and the styling, most obviously in the front end, pays homage to the 1949 Chevy Suburban. A major benefit of the old-school design is excellent visibility all around, making lane changing and parking less stressful.
Like its segment mates, the Chevy HHR offers the amazing space efficiency of a tall passenger compartment. At 176 inches in overall length, it's 4 inches shorter than the compact Chevy Cobalt, yet offers 39.5 inches of rear legroom compared to the Cobalt's 33.7 inches. And at nearly 24 cubic feet, it leads the class in cargo capacity behind the rear seat.
Where the HHR lags behind the competition is in overall performance and refinement. Though both engines get more power for 2007, the 3100-pound HHR still doesn't feel as sprightly as lighter rivals with less power. In handling, too, it loses out to more agile wagons like the Mazda 3 and PT Cruiser. A smooth, quiet ride is the HHR's biggest strength, as its softly calibrated suspension soaks up the bumps.
Overall, the 2007 Chevrolet HHR provides roomy, practical family transportation in an eye-catching retro wrapper. But with others in the class offering quicker acceleration, tighter handling and better brakes, you'd be well advised to explore all your options before settling on the Chevy.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Chevrolet HHR is available in two body styles: a compact four-door wagon and a panel van. The wagon comes in three trim levels: LS, 1LT and 2LT. The LS includes 16-inch wheels, air-conditioning with cabin filtration, cruise control, keyless entry, a six-speaker CD stereo with an MP3 auxiliary jack, a fold-flat front passenger seat and full power accessories. The wagon's LT trim is broken up into two groups, 1LT and the 2LT Enhanced Package. The 1LT includes an eight-way power driver seat, an upgraded MP3-compatible stereo and alloy wheels. The 2LT adds a firmer suspension setup, 17-inch wheels, a seven-speaker Pioneer sound system, foglamps and additional chrome trim. Options include remote vehicle starting (included with the automatic transmission), leather upholstery, seat heaters, an in-dash CD changer, satellite radio, a sunroof and OnStar.
The two-seat panel van comes in LS and LT trims. Either way, you get the following: chrome exterior accents, windowless side panels, dual rear cargo doors (with remote release), storage compartments in the load floor and a rear 40-amp power point. Otherwise, the standard content for the panel van's LS and LT trims essentially mirrors that of the wagon's LS and 1LT trims, though the van's LT trim also includes the sport suspension and 17-inch wheels.
Powertrains and Performance
A 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine rated for 149 horsepower and 152 pound-feet of torque is standard on base LS and midlevel 1LT models. Optional on the 1LT and standard on the top-line 2LT (and LT panel van) is a 2.4-liter engine that puts out 175 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on all HHRs, and a four-speed automatic is optional. Even with the 2.4, the HHR doesn't have much spunk down low. Acceleration is more spirited once the engine revs up, though plenty of noise accompanies these efforts.
Front disc and rear drum brakes are standard on all Chevy HHRs. ABS is optional for the LS and 1LT and standard for the 2LT. Traction control is included with ABS when you order an automatic transmission, but stability control is not offered. Head-protecting side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers are optional. In NHTSA testing, the HHR did quite well, earning five stars (the highest possible) in both front and side-impact crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
An attractive yet functional design gives the 2007 Chevrolet HHR one of the most inviting GM interiors of late. The metal-rimmed gauges are sharp, and the stereo head unit offers large dials, a scrolling display and a direct hookup for portable digital music players. Unfortunately, the window buttons are inconveniently mounted behind the shifter, and some of the interior plastics are of middling quality. In terms of comfort, the cloth seats are merely passable, but the optional leather chairs fare better thanks to their extra cushioning. Legroom, thankfully, is generous front and rear. As in the Pontiac Vibe, the rear seats fold easily to provide a perfectly flat load surface coated in easy-to-clean plastic. Maximum cargo capacity is 63 cubic feet.
The HHR's best attribute is its smooth, quiet ride. On twisty sections of road, it's best to keep things at a relaxed pace, as the suspension and steering really aren't up to the task of aggressive driving. Body roll is excessive, and the electric steering is slow and numb. Braking is another problem area, as the Chevy HHR exhibits poor straight-line stability during maximum braking efforts.