2009 Chevrolet HHR Performance
The 2009 Chevrolet HHR gets mixed reviews on the road. Many compliment its smooth ride, but some feeling it lags behind its competition in power. Edmunds says, "The 3,100-pound HHR still doesn't feel as sprightly as lighter rivals with less power. In handling, too, it loses out to more agile wagons like the Mazda 3 and PT Cruiser." But others are more complimentary. New Car Test Drive reports, "It isn't a sports car, but it's nimble and we were pleased with its acceleration. The HHR feels more responsive than its horsepower, torque, and transmission ratio numbers suggest. Plus, it gets decent fuel economy."
Acceleration and Power
The HHR offers two four-cylinder engines that earn mixed reviews. Some find engine power too modest for the HHR's hefty size, while others didn't notice any problems. LS and 1LT models come with an Ecotec 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, while 2LTs get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder. The high-level engine is also optional on 1LT models. Both engines come standard with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed electronically controlled automatic is optional.
The HHR's perceived engine power is debatable, but it does offer good fuel economy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the HHR with the base engine and manual transmission is expected to net 21 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway. With the 2.4-liter engine, it is expected to 20 in the city and 28 on the highway. However, the higher-level engine takes premium gasoline, while the base engine takes regular.
- The base 2.2-liter engine is "an eager performer in a small, lightweight car." --The Car Connection
- + "Even when outfitted with the base engine and four-speed automatic transmission, the HHR still feels adequately motivated." -- Kelley Blue Book
- The HHR "has less oomph in the class than all but the xB's tiny 1.5-liter four, which makes 108 horsepower." AutoWeek
- The "base engine struggles to sufficiently motivate the 3,100-pound vehicle, and the HHR doesn't feel as responsive as its lighter and less powerful rivals when accelerating or cornering." -- Edmunds
- "The HHR 2LT really scoots, which makes it a lot of fun." --New Car Test Drive
- MSN says "even the most potent HHR engine provides just so-so acceleration."
- The engine "didn't feel very powerful, requiring the transmission to downshift frequently to maintain speed on mildly hilly interstates." --USA Today
- "With a four-speed automatic transmission, there wasn't a lot of power to spare." --MarketWatch
Handling and Braking
The HHR handles well and offers a smooth ride, even if it does lack sporty performance. LS and 1LT models get a Touring suspension with variable-rate springs and a front stabilizer bar. The 2LT models upgrade to a Sport suspension, which adds gas-charged shocks. Most reviewers weren't impressed with the HHR's steering. Braking is another problem area.
- "Even in urban settings, the ride is smooth. Occupants might feel pavement imperfections, but few produce noticeable discomfort." -- Cars.com
- "Ride smoothness is very good, slightly better than the PT Cruiser's, which likely suffered a bit for its 50-series tires, compared with 55s on the HHR." -- Car and Driver
- The HHR's speed-sensitive variable power steering "lacked linearity and was too slow for maneuvering through the urban jungle of our local Wal-Mart parking lot." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Good around-town maneuverability," but steering is "numb on center" and "requires attention in straightline highway-speed cruising." -- Consumer Guide
- "It doesn't stop straight . . . This was disconcerting at the track. It was downright scary during a real emergency stop on the freeway." -- Edmunds