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STYLING | 8 out of 10
Attractive and functional... handsome bright-ringed gauges
retro style backed with substance
Kelley Blue Book
The 2009 Chevrolet HHR pairs fashionably retro styling with a shape that helps get the most out of very compact dimensions.
Edmunds calls the Chevrolet HHR, which Chevrolet has said was inspired by the 1949 Suburban, "a modern take on the expressive, big-fendered American vehicles of the late 1940s.”
That said, the styling on the 2009 Chevy HHR garners a mixed reception from reviewers. Car and Driver likes its “pleasing exterior curves,” and the Detroit News gives good marks to its “playful retro design inside and out.” However, the News and many other outlets point out that the more recent HHR “looks like such a blatant copy” of the Chrysler PT Cruiser.
A special HHR SS version, which—most notably from a styling standpoint—has larger wheels and flashier rims that give the HHR a different sense of proportion, first appeared in ’08 and is now joined by an HHR Panel SS. They both receive some sweet design cues to highlight the cars high-performance drivetrain. Autoblog says that there are "some changes with the Chevrolet HHR SS, but the car is still instantly recognizable as a Heritage High Roof." Cars.com says "the [Chevrolet] HHR SS is a stylish one from many angles...helping its cause are a number of SS-specific cues, like a black mesh grille that replaces the horizontal silver bars on regular Chevrolet HHRs."
Those hoping for the retro themes to continue inside might be a little disappointed; the HHR’s instrument panel and appointments are styled like other vehicles in the GM stable. "[T]he Chevrolet HHR features thoroughly modern interior styling...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," declares Kelley Blue Book, while Edmunds notes the “handsome bright-ringed gauges" and calls the interior “attractive and functional.” Automobile Magazine highlights the “nice, suede-like inserts on the seats."
Whether the retro styling does it for you or not, the HHR’s design is different—and quite functional.