2009 Chevrolet HHR Review

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 5, 2009

The 2009 Chevrolet HHR is a great urban runabout for small-business owners with frequent cargo hauls.

Gathering across the Web, TheCarConnection.com's editors studied car reviews and have condensed opinions about the 2009 Chevrolet HHR in this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com have driven the Chevrolet HHR (including the HHR SS) on several occasions and offer driving impressions and more details, and they've compared the 2009 Chevrolet HHR with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice—even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

The 2009 Chevrolet HHR (the name stands for "Heritage High Roof") shares its basic architecture with the Chevy Cobalt (available in coupe and sedan body styles). Despite the HHR’s inauspicious foundation, this tall-roofed crossover is a well-orchestrated machine that provides cargo-carrying utility and spirited performance.

Standard-duty versions of the 2009 Chevrolet HHR can be powered by one of two four-cylinder engines: a 2.2-liter or 2.4-liter. Both engines power the front wheels via either a standard five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic; a remote start feature is offered with the 2.4-liter. For 2009, variable valve timing has been added to the base 2.2-liter Ecotec engine, which increases horsepower to 155, up from the ‘08's powerplant rating of 149 horses. Since the new engine is more efficient, fuel economy is improved, yielding a driving range of up to 500 miles between petrol pit stops. With either transmission, though, performance is just adequate, and the HHR’s powertrains feel somewhat less refined than that of rival vehicles.

High-performance-minded drivers that don’t want to sacrifice excellent fuel economy now have another 2009 Chevrolet HHR SS model to satiate their need for efficient speed: the HHR Panel SS model. Unlike some recent Chevys with "SS" decals but no guts, the HHR SS and Panel SS have big muscles. Driver-selectable performance features including the “no-lift shift” help the SS achieve 0-60 mph performance in 6.3 seconds and cover the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 98.5 mph. Equipped with the manual transmission, the SS has a top speed of more than 150 mph. Powering the SS models—which are the most desirable of the HHR lineup, in the opinion of TheCarConnection.com—is a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter Ecotec engine, which enables the HHR SS to achieve EPA-rated highway mileage of 29 mpg with the manual transmission and 28 mpg with the automatic.

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A sport suspension is included on the Chevy HHR LT model for more responsive handling, though it doesn’t make a tremendous difference. All of the non-SS versions have a quite soft, absorbent ride and handling that’s responsive though not sporty.

Packaging is hit-and-miss in the 2009 Chevrolet HHR. The front seats can be a bit cramped, headroom is especially tight, and the second row isn’t tremendously roomy either. But fold down the second row and the HHR hauls an amazing amount of cargo. A flexible cargo management system includes flat-folding rear and front passenger seatbacks, various storage bins, and a height-adjustable cargo panel. Cargo carrying is after all the HHR's forte, and the LT Panel version, intended for use as a nimble cargo delivery vehicle, maximizes that capability.

The HHR had been a little lacking in the safety-features department, but newly standard on all models for 2009 are StabiliTrak stability control, ABS, tire pressure monitoring, roof rail airbags, and OnStar.

Providing hands-free calling and wireless play for audio devices through the radio, a Bluetooth interface for the phone is now standard on the 2009 Chevrolet HHR. A rear backup camera is available as an option. The 2LT comes equipped with new 17-inch ChromeTech wheels.

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