Chevrolet's HHR debuted in 2006 to much enthusiasm among entry-level car buyers, selling over 100,000 units in its first year. The attention-grabbing style continues in 2008, featuring a big chrome grille and a long smoothly curved hood reminiscent of Chevy's 1949 Suburban. The rear tailgate is framed by two small, round taillights, making the HHR the most unique vehicle in Chevrolet's lineup.
The front-wheel drive platform is borrowed from the Cobalt; however, the HHR is aimed at those looking for more style and more cargo room than the Cobalt provides.
HHR stands for "Heritage High Roof," and it is the high roof that provides ample interior headroom and generous cargo volume. Combined with a very configurable interior, including removable rear seats and a fold-flat front passenger seat, means the HHR is a very versatile passenger and cargo hauler. Captain's style seating allows good visibility and SUV appeal.
The base LS comes with the 2.2L engine and five-speed manual transmission, which can be upgraded to a four-speed automatic. The interior is generously equipped with standard power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, and cruise control. Remote vehicle start is available, as are antilock brakes with traction control. Music fans can opt for a seven-speaker Pioneer premium sound system.
The up-level LT trim adds an additional $1,000 to the sticker price, as well as 16-inch aluminum wheels, power mirrors, a power driver's seat, and an MP3 capable stereo with automatic volume control and an equalizer. The 2.4L engine, which puts out 172 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque, is only available on the LT trim as a $650 option.
The $2,395 2LT Preferred Equipment Package available on the LT trim includes a Pioneer speaker system, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, fog lamps, chrome appearance package, 17-inch aluminum wheels, ABS brakes, StabiliTrak, the 2.4L engine, sport suspension, and traction control.
New for 2008 is the performance oriented SS model. Equipped with the same 2.0L turbo four that propels the Solstice GXP and Sky Redline, the SS promises to have plenty of verve. In addition to the hot engine, the HHR SS has four disc brakes, a stiffer suspension, 18-inch alloys, StabiliTrak, a rear spoiler, and fog lights. Inside, high-bolster seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel keep up with the performance theme.
Upgraded wheels, audio systems, and comfort features are available across the model range, allowing buyers to choose their level of customization.
For those looking to haul more goods than people, the HHR can be ordered in a panel configuration. It deletes the rear doors, rear windows, and rear seat, allowing users to stuff 55.6 cubic feet of cargo into the vehicle.
For 2008, Chevrolet has introduced an SS version of the HHR. The SS receives the 2.0L Ecotec Turbo engine that should be good for around 260 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. In addition, the SS receives a performance tuned suspension, rear disc brakes, bolstered seats, a rear spoiler, and 18-inch polished aluminum wheels. A limited-slip differential is optional.
The rest of the model line-up remains mostly unchanged, though OnStar is now standard on all trim levels.