Compact car; Built in Mexico
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $6,700 – $16,500*


2006 Chevrolet HHR


2006 Chevrolet HHR


2006 Chevrolet HHR

Pros:
  • Cargo room
  • Fuel economy
  • Front-seat space and comfort
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Acceleration (highway)
  • Manual-gearbox operation
  • Brake-pedal feel

Some buyers might wish for sportier handling, and most would want smoother, more powerful engine performance. Nevertheless, Chevrolet’s retro-flavored wagon offers a practical blend of look-at-me style and utility in a not-too-large package. New-car pricing and features availability were competitive, too. Resale value beats some Chevrolet models, so used-car prices aren’t necessarily the cheapest.

Overview

Making its debut for 2006, this five-passenger compact wagon was named for its “Heritage, High Roof.” Styling was inspired by the 1949 Chevrolet Suburban. Sharing its underskin architecture with Chevrolet’s Cobalt compact car, HHR came only with front-wheel drive.

LS and LT models were offered, both with a one-piece rear liftgate. The base engine was a 143-horsepower, 2.2-liter four-cylinder. Optional on the LT was a 172-horsepower 2.4-liter four. Available with either engine was a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. Included with the automatic was a remote engine start feature.

All HHRs had air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, split folding rear seat, and a fold-flat front-passenger seat that could allow carrying longer items. LT editions added a power driver’s seat, upgraded trim, and alloy wheels. The LTs were available with a 2LT package that included the 2.4 engine, sport suspension, and 17-inch wheels versus the standard 16-inchers.

Antilock brakes were part of the 2LT package, and also were a standalone option. When ordered with an automatic transmission, they included traction control. Head-protecting curtain side airbags, OnStar Assistance, and satellite radio were available but not standard.

Chevrolet’s HHR competed mainly against the Chrysler PT Cruiser, which also featured retro styling. Additional rivals included the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix duo.

Yearly Updates

2007 HHR
Except for revised horsepower and torque ratings, little changed for the 2007 model year. Engine output grew to 149 horsepower for the 2.2-liter and 175 hp for the 2.4-liter.
2008 HHR
The 2008 Chevrolet HHR made news by offering a high-performance SS model along with an antiskid system. The HHR SS model got a turbocharged 260-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder.
2009 HHR
Changes for 2009 included more standard power, the ability to run on E85 ethanol-blended fuel, and some new features. Added for ’09 was an SS version of the Panel with the same 260-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine found in SS wagons. The 2.2-liter four standard in the LS and LT added 6 hp for a total of 155. Both it and the 172-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder optional in the LT could now run on E85 ethanol-blended fuel. Newly available on the 2009 HHR was a wireless cell-phone link. A rearview camera was expected to be added as an option late in the model year.
2010 HHR
The 2010 Chevrolet HHR lineup lost its high-performance SS Panel model.
2011 HHR
The 2011 Chevrolet HHR lineup no longer offers a high-performance SS model.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Base engine for the HHR was a 143-horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder. A 172-horsepower 2.4-liter four was optional on the LT model. Either engine could have a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. Horsepower/torque ratings rose slightly for the 2007 model year, to 149 horsepower for the 2.2-liter and 175 hp for the 2.4-liter. For 2008, a new SS model got a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard, and a 4-speed automatic was optional.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/134
Engine HP 143-149
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 150-152
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
23/30
23/30
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/145
Engine HP 172/175
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162/165
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
22/30
22/30
32.3
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 122/2.0
Engine HP 260
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 260
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
21/29
19/28

Road Test

Acceleration varies with conditions. The 2.4-liter engine has decent around-town go, but highway passing and hill climbs can feel labored. Chevrolet’s manual transmission feels slightly quicker than automatic, but the manual shifter’s crude movement and long throws diminish the sporty feel. Automatic-transmissions respond quickly to kick down for more power. An automatic 2.4-liter LT accelerated to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. Maximum towing weight is 1000 pounds.

Test LTs with the 2.4-liter engine averaged 21.8 to 23.9 mpg with an automatic transmission in city/highway driving that included gas-eating performance runs, and 22.1 mpg with manual. Another automatic 2.4-liter LT averaged a frugal 32.3 mpg in mostly highway travel. Chevrolet recommends premium-grade fuel for 2.4-liter, regular-grade for the 2.2.

Composed overall, the HHR’s ride can get bouncy over sharp bumps. With its 16-inch tires, the standard suspension absorbs most bumps, but transmits some vibration over coarse surfaces. The 2LT edition’s sport suspension and 17-inch tires have little effect on ride quality.

Steering/handling qualifies as capable, but certainly not sporty, even with 2LT sport-suspension upgrades. Good around-town maneuverability is accompanied by modest grip and some noseplow in faster corners, though little undue body lean. Steering feels numb on-center but linear in turns. The HHR requires attention in straightline highway-speed cruising, where stability is affected by crosswinds and gusts. Decent stopping power is marred by spongy brake-pedal feel.

Wind rush is well controlled, but engine buzz intrudes during acceleration. Expect noticeable road roar from tires on coarse highway surfaces.

While exterior design recalls the 1950s, the HHR’s cabin design is modern. Gauges are unobstructed, but markings are a bit small and hard to see. Climate and radio controls are easy to reach. Power-window switches are located on the center console instead of door panels, which takes getting used to. Unpadded plastic dominates the dashboard and door panels, but nothing looks cheap.

Front head and legroom are adequate for all but the largest occupants. Comfortable chair-height seats are inviting, though tall drivers might wish for extra height adjustment on the seat and more tilt steering-wheel travel. Thick pillars slightly impede view fore and aft, though generously-sized rearview mirrors help. Low step-in and tall door openings make entry/exit a breeze. Rear headroom is diminished beneath the sunroof housing, but good otherwise. Knee and toe clearance are acceptable, but leg space is cramped with front seats more than halfway back. Seatbacks are quite upright and the seat cushion is modestly sized. Entry/exit into the rear is trouble-free, but the narrow cabin precludes three-abreast adult seating.

Versatile storage space is a bonus. It’s easy to fold the 60/40 split rear seatbacks to create a flat load floor, but front seatbacks must be far forward for headrests to clear. One handy touch: the rear cargo cover slots into interior side panels to form a two-tier loading “shelf.” Small-item storage is just so-so, with a small center console, slim map pockets in doors, and only one cupholder for the rear-seat area.

Ratings

Model Tested: Chevrolet HHR LT w/2.4-liter and auto.

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 7
70%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 55

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.5 176.2 69.2 65.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
63.1 16.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.5 39.6 40.6 39.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Airbags
Description: The airbag warning light may not go off due to a faulty seat belt tension sensor in the right front seat belt retractor assembly. (2006-07)
Brake noise
Description: Stones get caught between the front brake pads and rotors causing noise, pulsation and wear unless improved rotors with built-in spacers have replaced the original. 2005-08)
Engine misfire
Description: Intermittently, the engine may not start, may start and die or may have long crank times due to twisted terminals in the fuse block connector under the hood. (2006-08)
Engine noise
Description: Growling sounds in the engine compartment when the A/C is running are caused by the high pressure line at the condenser outlet requiring a redesigned line. (2006)
Engine stalling
Description: The engine may quit running because the driver inadvertently switches off the ignition with his/her knee, especially if a large, heavy key ring for which the company offers a cover for the ignition key. (2006)
Steering noise
Description: A clunk that may also be felt in the steering wheel when turning may be due to insufficient lubrication in the steering intermediate shaft. (2006)
Steering problems
Description: Power steering fuses are frequently blown due to improper jump starting when both cable leads are connected to the terminals of the underhood junction block because both terminals are positive. (2006-07)
Electrical problem
Description: The DVD monitors in the front seat headrests may quit working because the video feed cable comes loose requiring installation of cable clamps. (2007-08)
Electrical problem
Description: When using a portable music player (e.g. iPod) there may be noise in the car’s speakers whenever the vehicle’s power adapter is used and a ground loop isolator (from Radio Shack) is required between the device and the power outlet to prevent the noise. (2006-07)
Transmission problems
Description: The power locks, cruise control, shift interlock and other accessories may not work; the engine may not go over 4,000 rpm and the check engine light may come on in cool (32-50 degrees F) after cold soak due to a problem with the transmission control module. (2007)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may come on, and driver may or may not notice an engine stumble, due to partially clogged fuel injector(s) on the 2.4L engine. (2006-07)

Recall History

2006 Chevrolet HHR w/aftermarket leather seats
Description: Testing has indicated that the aftermarket leather seat covers can cause the passenger sensing system to malfunction. If the passenger sensing system malfunctions, the front air bag on the passenger side may be disabled when it should be enabled, or enabled when it should be disabled. GM will purchase these vehicles for the full price paid for it (not exceeding the fair market value at the time it was bought), including taxes and fees, if the vehicle is returned to GM’s possession by January 31, 2007. Through January 31, 2007, GM will also pay for the removal of any aftermarket accessories that may have been installed and return them to the customer.
2006-08
Description: An upper interior surface falls short of a Federal safety standard and poses an increased risk of head injury in a crash. Dealers will install an energy-absorbing plastic piece to the headliner trim.
2006-08
Description: The door on the storage bin in the top center of the instrument panel could pop open in a crash, possibly resulting in injury.
2009
Description: The transmission shift cable adjustment clip may not be fully engaged, so shift lever might not coincide with actual position of transmission gear.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.