2006 Chevrolet HHR: Chevy’s PT Cruiser?

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I realize I am certain to get some flack for my title, but at first glance, no wait, at every glance when I look at the HHR I can’t help think that this is Chevrolet’s answer to the Chrysler PT Cruiser. While you may disagree, the similarities are striking and the HHR is positioned to compete against the PT Cruiser, Honda Element, and the Scion xB. How well the HHR will do is another thing, so let’s take a look at this little wonder before passing judgment.

The HHR, like the SSR released by Chevrolet one year before it, is a retro car meant to evoke comparisons with vehicles of another generation. Taking styling cues from the 1949 Chevrolet/GMC Suburban the HHR, or Heritage High Roof, is based on the all new Chevrolet Cobalt frame. The PT Cruiser is also a retro vehicle and it take its styling cues from panel trucks of the same era, thus the PT in the name makes the vehicle a panel truck cruiser. For further comparison notes the Chrysler is based on the aging [and soon to be discontinued] Neon platform.

The HHR, like the PT Cruiser, is essentially a tall wagon with raised seating that can fold down to allow for ample carting of large and lengthy items. Indeed, with the front passenger seat folded down, the HHR can easily carry an 8 foot step ladder inside its cabin. Chevrolet added plenty of bins, hooks, and cup holders to the HHR so that the utilitarian nature of the vehicle is only in its styling, and not in its practicality. Good thing, because retro should only be in looks and not in creature comforts or the lack thereof, right?

With four passenger doors and a fifth utility door – a liftgate – the HHR is said to hold five passengers, but as vehicles of this size go the three in the back should be children, otherwise the going will certainly be cramped.

Unlike the PT Cruiser which offers three 4 cylinder engines, two of which are turbocharged, the HHR features just two normally aspirated engines: the 2.2L Ecotec with 143 horsepower or the 2.4L Ecotec with 172 horses. Both engines are mated to a 5 speed manual transmission, but customers can opt for a 4 speed automatic if they so desire.

Yes, all the other creature comforts of modern vehicles are also available with the HHR; some is standard equipment while others are listed as options. Air conditioning, cd players, air bags, power seats/windows/doors/locks, etc. are offered depending on option packages ordered and the model selected [there are three].

One of the best features of the HHR is its price. Currently, Chevrolet’s base MSRP is $15,990 and although GM’s special employee pricing program has ended there are certain to be incentives offered to lure buyers, possibly in the area of low rate financing. Highway gas mileage should approach 30 miles to the gallon, which is comparable to cars in its class.

Time will tell how the HHR is received and since it is so new I haven’t had a chance to test drive one yet. Thus, I really cannot pass judgment on the HHR other than to say I like its looks and think that it may be a good competitor to the PT Cruiser as well as an option for those considering the Honda Element or Scion xB.

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Source by Matthew Keegan

Agnes Brown

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