By KBB.com Editors
While some dismiss the 2011 Chevrolet HHR as little more than a PT Cruiser clone, in truth the two vehicles appeal to very different audiences. Where the PT once pulled in Baby Boomers and Gen X males, the HHR speaks to today's young drivers who like to customize their cars with extreme paint jobs and near-deafening sound systems. And, since Chrysler has now officially announced the death of the PT Cruiser, the HHR stands alone in the quasi-retro American panel truck field. There's even a cool Panel version with windowless side panels and side cargo doors. Though smaller than it appears in pictures, the HHR is nevertheless a versatile and fun-to-drive vehicle as equally suited to small families as it is to hip singles.You'll Like This Car If...
If you like your retro style backed with substance, the functional, comfortable and eager 2011 Chevrolet HHR will satisfy you beyond its intriguing looks.You May Not Like This Car If...
While the HHR is indeed versatile, it's still based on a small-car platform. So, if you've got big stuff to haul – or just a lot of stuff – you might need a larger vehicle.What's New for 2011
Two new paint colors are added to the HHR's exterior color choices, and a one-year paid subscription to XM Satellite Radio is added to the My Link package. The sporty SS trim has been dropped from the line.Driving It Driving Impressions
One of the best things you can say about a vehicle is that it handles like a smaller car and rides like a bigger one. Such is the case with the 2011 Chevrolet HHR. With its raised seating position and truck-like attitude, you might not expect the HHR to handle like the small car it really is. It's just as surprising out on the highway, where it's smooth for its size and notably quiet. Even when outfitted with the base engine and four-speed automatic transmission, the HHR still feels adequately motivated, although throttle response is a bit slow and the electrically-assisted power steering feels vague and somewhat disconnected. Those who prefer a bit more guts to their ride will probably be happier with the 2LT's 174-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine.Favorite Features
HHRs equipped with automatic transmissions include a remote start feature that lets you start heating or cooling the cabin before you even set foot outside your home.
Audio Input Jack
A front-mounted auxiliary input jack makes it easy to connect any MP3 player or other audio source to the HHR's sound system.
Avoiding the "total retro look", the 2011 Chevrolet HHR treats its occupants to a thoroughly modern interior. Tasteful chrome rings and accents combine with pleasing buttons and knobs in a contemporary interior that looks and feels like nothing from the automaker's past. While there's at least as much plastic as you'd expect, its artfully crafted style is much less objectionable than in many of the cars in its price range. The HHR also possesses notably comfortable seats. Versatility is definitely one of the car's strong suits, with features like a front passenger seat that folds down to accommodate longer items and a cargo floor that hides a shallow storage bin and also lifts to create a two-tier load area. Panel models feature rear cargo doors that do not have handles but open via a dash-mounted button or by using the remote key fob.Exterior
Featuring a retro design heavily inspired by Chevy's own 1949 Suburban, the HHR plays the stylized delivery wagon to the boxy urban scooter image of such cars as the Scion xB and Nissan Cube. Up front, a towering hood is fronted by a big chrome grille. Moving toward the rear, flared fenders, rounded corners and circular taillights work in concert to strengthen the HHR's link with the past. As was the case when the PT Cruiser was first introduced, from its pictures it's easy to imagine the HHR to be a much bigger vehicle.Notable Standard Equipment
The HHR LS wagon includes a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, AM/FM/MP3-compatible CD sound system with auxiliary input jack and three-month subscription to XM Satellite Radio, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control, 16-inch wheel covers, trip computer, OnStar Safe and Sound package, front and side curtain airbags, traction control, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and StabiliTrak stability control. The 1LT trim adds an, eight-way power driver's seat with lumbar support, 16-inch alloy wheels and satin chrome exterior accents. The 2LT trim adds the 2.4-liter engine, FE3 Sport suspension, ChromeTech 17-inch wheels, 260-watt Pioneer sound system, fog lights and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.Notable Optional Equipment
Features that will take you beyond base sticker price include a more powerful 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission with standard remote start, leather seating, rear backup camera, power moonroof, 260-watt sound system with subwoofer, and 16- or 17-inch wheels. The My Link package adds Bluetooth wireless connectivity, OnStar with Directions and Connections, a USB port, leather-wrapped steering wheel with touch controls and a one year subscription to XM Satellite Radio and a MP3-compatible CD player.Under the Hood
While more aggressive drivers will be best served by either the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to the five-speed manual transmission, the base 2.2-liter engine is far from anemic. Both the 2.2-liter and 2.4-liter engines are now E85 Flex Fuel compatible. They are also louder than one might expect, especially at full throttle. Vibration and harshness, however, are well in line with other small four-cylinder engines from Ford, Chrysler and Kia.
2.2-liter in-line 4
155 horsepower @ 6100 rpm
150 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 (manual), 22/30 (automatic), 16/23 (E85, manual), 16/22 (E85, automatic)
2.4-liter in-line 4
172 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
167 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 (gasoline, manual), 16/23 (E85, manual), 22/30 (gasoline, automatic), 15/21 (E85, automatic)
The 2011 Chevrolet HHR LS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $19,500, and a nicely equipped LT tops out at just over $26,000. With plentiful competition be sure to shop and compare using Fair Purchase Prices, which reflect current real-world selling prices. Similarly styled and priced competitors include the Kia Soul, Scion xB and Nissan Cube. In terms of resale value, we expect the Chevy HHR to hold only average resale value, and not as strong as some of its Japanese competitors, such as the Scion xB and Nissan Cube.