While my truck was in the body shop, I rented a Chevy HHR. It’s supposed to look like an early Chevy Suburban, only much smaller. It was okay, but I wouldn’t buy one. The A-pillars are too thick and the windshield is too low. It’s peppy enough and I suppose it gets decent, although not great gas mileage, at least compared with my Nissan Frontier.
It’s interesting to look at, but form doesn’t really follow function in this case. I own the Frontier, and a Chrysler minivan. I chose the HHR, in part, because it looked like it could carry a lot of stuff like my other vehicles can, but the HHR only seats four and it really can’t carry nearly as much stuff as even the minivan.
The thick A-pillars make it hard to see left and right. The too-low windshield is bad for star gazing, and at an intersection if you pull up too close to a stoplight, it’s very hard to see the light change. You can’t see either end of an HHR from the drivers seat either. As you drive, and park it, you will get used to how big the vehicle is, but if you rent a car, you’d like it to be something you don’t have to get used to.
Many cars today have air dams under or as part of the front bumper. These are often so close to the ground that they scrape on curbs and on those concrete barriers that stop you from driving too far into the parking space in front of the one you’re in. The HHR is that low to the ground in front too. Low air dams are supposed to improve mileage a little at highway speed. In addition to scraping, the HHR’s low front end is body colored, in the case of my rental, white, so it’s easy to get it all scraped up and when it is all scraped up, it looks it.
The center console isn’t very useful. It does have cup holders in it, but they are too far back to reach comfortably if you’re the driver and they’re too shallow. If I had something in the cup holder, I worried that it would spill.
I had to read the owner’s manual to figure out how to open up the hatch. The release is hidden under the trim over the light that shines on the rear license plate. And the owner’s manual doesn’t explain that very well either.
A lot of people who rent cars are business travelers, even if I’m not. A lot of them own smart phones or some other kind of MP3 player, and so do I. If I ran a rental car company every one of the cars would have a radio that let you play your own music on it. Maybe they don’t get a lot of complaints about that, but it did bug me that I couldn’t listen to the music I always carry with me. I’d rather have that ability than a trip computer which my car did have.
My collision insurance paid for part of the rental. I agreed to pay an additional $7.07 a day. I had the car for 11 days. They wanted to charge me $77.79! Where did the extra two cents come from? They didn’t know, but they did adjust it when I pointed it out.
So thats my review of the Chevy HHR. And there’s one thing strikes me about the review: Except for the visibility problem, nothing that diminished my appreciation of the vehicle had anything to do with driving it.