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2006 Chevrolet HHR Wagon

4dr 2WD LS

Starting at | Starting at 23 MPG City - 30 MPG Highway

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  • $15,325 original MSRP
Printable Version

2006 Chevrolet HHR Wagon

Printable Version

2006 Chevrolet HHR Wagon

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2006 Chevrolet HHR

Source: New Car Test Drive

Overview

The Chevrolet HHR was launched as an all-new model for 2006. It's built on the platform of the winning Chevy Cobalt small sedan, and incorporates the Cobalt's best features: engine, transmission and suspension. The HHR is meant to compete against the 2WD PT Cruiser, as well as the likes of Jeep Liberty, Ford Escape and Honda Element, which offer four-wheel drive.

As if to add obscurity to curiosity, HHR stands for "Heritage High Roof." The roof of the Chevrolet HHR two-wheel-drive SUV is high, and its heritage dates to the 1949 GMC Suburban panel delivery truck. The HHR is on a smaller scale, but there are no bones about its retro styling.

We found the HHR to be fun to drive. 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. The interior wasn't as functional as we'd have liked, however, and the base cloth fabric left us wishing we'd ordered the optional leather.

Model Lineup

The Chevrolet HHR comes in a simple LS model, plus a 1LT and 2LT. The LS comes standard with GM's solid 2.2-liter, double-overhead-cam four-cylinder Ecotec engine, making 143 horsepower; the 1LT offers an optional 2.4-liter version of that same engine rated at 172 horsepower; and the 2LT makes that powerplant standard. All three models come standard with a five-speed manual transmission; a four-speed automatic is optional ($1000) and comes packaged with remote starting.

Standard equipment on the LS ($15,990) includes air conditioning, power windows and locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, front intermittent wipers, rear-window wiper, power driver's seat with lumbar support, and 16-inch aluminum wheels.

The 1LT ($16,990) adds an MP3 player with a jack for an iPod, eight ways to adjust the driver's seat, and satin chrome trim.

The 2LT ($18,790) adds the 2.4-liter Ecotec engine, anti-lock brakes, traction control, fog lamps, a 260-watt Pioneer sound system with seven speakers, 17-inch aluminum wheels, sport-tuned suspension and bright chrome trim.

Safety features include optional front and rear side-curtain airbags ($395). ABS comes standard on the 2LT, and is optional for the LS and 1LT ($400). Electronic stability control is not available.

Walkaround

If there's ever been a case of a picture of a so-called SUV being worth a thousand words, the HHR should be it. It looks like a 1949 panel delivery truck, with the edges smoothed over. Or maybe not. Today we call such fenders flared, and are sculpted for effect; back in those days, they were merely functional, and didn't have that "edgy" look.

Actually, that "flared" description seems to apply only to the rear; the front fenders simply hang out there over the tires, as they should to be truly retro, and they are nicely rounded, at least to their outside edges, where they are flattened. This is the current look, whose origins are unclear, but may trace to the Mitsubishi Endeavor, whose flattened and edged flares were designed purely to be noticed.

Speaking of the current look, the tail lamps are two round red vertical bulbs on each side. The big grille is chrome, every inch of it, and looks almost exactly like the '49 Suburban grille. The headlights, however, are modern glittering wedges, containing one big beam and the turn signal.

The front and rear bumpers are molded plastic, unlike the steel in the body. Technically, they may be part of the fascia, but because they take the conspicuous shape of bumpers, they are more like square lumps extending from the extremities of the vehicle.

The glass runs neatly uninterrupted all around the vehicle, with five rectangular windows from B-pillar around the rear to B-pillar. There's something about the simple shape of these windows that gives the HHR a low-rider look, although the roof itself is relatively high, as the name declares. Our test HHR was fitted with chrome roof rails, which we suggest saving $150 by not buying them. Roof rails are almost useless without crossbars, and we think this vehicle would look more appropriate with a functional black after-market rack anyhow.

The HHR was designed by the same man who designed the PT Cruiser; he left Chrysler for GM shortly afterward. We received quite a few comments on the HHR's looks, all of them favorable, some thinking it was the new PT Cruiser, and others simply asking what it was. "Wow, that looks terrific, just terrific," said one fellow. We asked what he liked about the styling. "Well, I've got a '23 dump truck," he replied, "which I wish I could drive on the street because it looks so cool. I like this because I could drive it on the street." One assumes that GM expects the market for the HHR to be extend beyond such arcane tastes.

Actually, the HHR will be appreciated by people who have the soul of a '50s California surfer.

Interior Features

Our HHR didn't have leather, but yours might need it. The tan cloth interior, despite its name of "cashmere cloth," looks like upholstery that might be found in an inexpensive furnished rental unit. Many other SUVs have nice-looking, rugged cloth interiors nowadays; GM doesn't escape its reputation for being out to lunch on this one.

We couldn't find a comfortable seating position; the problem seemed to lie in the contour of the seatback. And unless the seat was in its lowest position, our head hit the headliner (5'10" driver). Speaking of headroom, there isn't a lot of it, in spite of the high roof.

There are slim folding armrests for each front seat; the driver's armrest sloped a few degrees below horizontal on our test unit, apparently because of a broken stop, and was therefore unusable.

The automatic transmission shift lever, with a big chrome knob, sometimes got stuck in park, and had to be jiggled to engage reverse or drive.

There's no significant storage in any console between the seats, two cupholders and one slot is all. The door pockets are small. There's a useful flip-up compartment on top of the dash, however, and there's a small glovebox.

In the rear, there's one cupholder and small door pockets. The back of the front passenger seat has a tight storage net, but not the back of the driver's seat. GM saved a few cents here.

The windows are controlled on the console by four buttons located just forward of the gear lever. So if you park with the windows down, and want to lock the car, you have to reach down with two hands in front of the gear lever, and hold the buttons down two at a time (or reach with one hand, and hold the four buttons down consecutively, and wait). Even operating the driver's window, at toll booths for example, requires leaning forward and reaching down. Window switches should be on the driver's door.

The turn signal makes a loud, rapid, annoying click. The rearview mirror blocks a significant chunk of forward visibility out the smallish windshield.

The gauges and controls are, well, General Motors. Superfluous chrome rings and trim, and instruments designed to look cool, rather than to be easily readable.

One good thing (even if it is bright chrome) is the door handle, an ergonomically correct ring which actuates with a horizontal inward pull.

If the HHR misses on the little interior things, the cargo storage possibilities are excellent, although the total cargo area of 55.6 cubic feet is 8.4 less than in the PT Cruiser. The rear split 60/40 seat folds flat very easily, as does the front passenger seat; and since the 60-percent side of the rear seat is on the left, a long item like a ladder can be slipped in diagonally. Which is good, because without crossbars to the roof rails, it can't be carried above.

The rear cargo floor flips up to reveal a five-inch-deep tray, where you might hide a wallet, or many wallets, or a few short stacks of pancakes for a firemen's breakfast. The rear liftgate is one piece, and raises easily.

Not surprisingly, there isn't much legroom in the rear seat. Kids are always fine, as long as three of them can share one drink. We actually carried six 10-year-old boys on a soccer team for 60 miles in the HHR, and they were all happy. Even the two who squeezed into the way back.

Overall, interior-wise, the HHR isn't in the same league as the Honda Element.

Driving Impressions

The 2.4-liter Ecotec is a wonderful little engine. It's an aluminum four-cylinder, with 16 valves, electronic fuel injection and variable valve timing. It makes 172 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque at 5000 rpm, numbers which don't indicate anything special. In fact, that torque peak suggests that the low-rpm pulling power might be weak. But it's not. We drive up a steep, slow hill every day, and the HHR plugged up the hill like a tractor, with no shifting-down of the automatic transmission. Which is more than can be said of the powerful Pontiac GTO we tested recently.

Transmission ratios have a lot to do with this efficient delivery of power. Curiously, there's nothing in the ratios of the HHR four-speed automatic that indicate it should make this hill so easily, either. All we can say is that the pulling power of the HHR 2LT is excellent.

We suspect the five-speed Getrag manual transmission (same as in the PT Cruiser) would be a better bet for the HHR than the automatic, but we have no complaints with the four-speed automatic, which costs another $1000, and includes remote starting (think of climbing into a toasty car in your driveway on icy mornings). In fact, we liked the way the automatic, without a separate manual mode, could be easily manually downshifted anyhow, and how it held second gear going down that same steep, slow hill. Our only problem was with the sticky linkage, in getting out of Park.

Acceleration was equally impressive. Onto the freeway, foot on the floor, and the HHR 2LT really scoots, which makes it a lot of fun. The engine is also efficient; it gets the same EPA-rated 23 city and 30 highway miles per gallon (manual transmission) as the 2.2-liter with only 143 horsepower, although premium fuel is recommended (but not required). During one week in the 2LT, we averaged 23.4 miles per gallon, as indicated by the digital data on the dash. That included mostly around-town driving, plus about 120 freeway miles with a full load of passengers and the cruise control set at 70. The HHR got slightly better mileage at that freeway pace, than it did light-footed around town.

The engine is also quiet, thanks partly to special laminated steel in the firewall.

The 2LT has a sport-tuned suspension with 17-inch aluminum wheels, as well as anti-lock brakes. There is no harshness to the ride around town, or over freeway bumps for that matter. The suspension shows its limitations when driven like a sports car, but, after all, it's technically an SUV, with front-wheel drive. Mostly, it's especially nimble. Chevrolet boasts that some 2000 hours went into the calibration of the rack-and-pinion steering with power assist, to give it a "just right" feel, and we would say it feels just right, around town.

The brakes are 11.65-inch discs in front, 10-inch drums in rear, and have an easy feel. Brake force distribution, which electronically adjusts the braking so that the rear wheels don't lock up, is not available. It might be useful, given the 57/43 weight distribution of the HHR.

Summary

Despite its great little engine, and its SUV designation, the HHR has a limited application because it's only two-wheel drive, with a mere 55.6 cubic feet of cargo space. The fact that the seats can fold flat helps increase the utility. But in the end, it's all about styling. It's a PT Cruiser for people who want something different, and who like the classic looks of the 1949 Chevy panel delivery truck.

New Car Test Drive correspondent Sam Moses filed this report from the Pacific Northwest's Columbia River Valley.

Model Line Overview
Base Price (MSRP)
$15,990
Model lineup:
Chevrolet HHR LS ($15,990); 1LT ($16,990); 2LT ($18,790)
Engines:
143-hp 2.2-liter inline 4; 172-hp 2.4-liter inline 4
Transmissions:
5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic
Safety equipment (Standard):
frontal airbags, daytime running lights
Safety equipment (Optional):
ABS, side curtain airbags
Basic warranty:
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in:
Ramos, Arizpe, Mexico
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSRP):
Chevrolet HHR 2LT ($18,790)
Standard equipment:
air conditioning, power steering, power disc brakes, power windows, power locks, cruise control, remote keyless entry, trip computer, fog lamps, sport suspension, 17-inch aluminum wheels
Options as tested:
automatic transmission with remote start ($1000); power sunroof ($725); side curtain airbags ($395); polished forged aluminum wheels ($395); XM satellite radio ($325); 6 CD changer ($295); roof rails ($150); running boards ($445); floor mats ($105)
Destination charge:
565
Gas Guzzler Tax:
N/A
Price as tested (MSRP)
$22,625
Layout:
front-wheel drive
Engine:
2.4-liter dohc 16-valve I4
Horsepower (hp @ rpm):
172 @ 6200
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm):
162 @ 5000
Transmission:
4-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:
23/30 mpg.
Wheelbase:
103.5 in.
Length/width/height:
176.2/69.2/65.2 in.
Track, f/r:
58.7/58.7 in.
Turning circle:
37.7 ft.
Seating capacity:
5
Head/hip/leg room, f:
39.5/50.1/40.6 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:
39.6/50.6/39.5 in.
Cargo volume:
55.6 cu. ft.
Payload:
N/A
Towing capacity:
1000 lbs.
Suspension F:
independent
Suspension R:
semi-independent, torsion beam
Ground clearance:
6.3 in.
Curb weight:
3208 lbs.
Tires:
P215/50R17
Brakes, f/r:
disc/drum with ABS in.
Fuel capacity:
16.2 gal.

Printable Version

2006 Chevrolet HHR Wagon

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Opt
Traction/Stability Control Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Head Air Bag Opt
Rear Head side Air Bag Opt
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Std
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std

Security

Anti-theft System Std
Telematics Opt
Printable Version

2006 Chevrolet HHR Wagon

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Miles

Months

Chevrolet Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

2-year/24,000-Mile¹ CPO Scheduled Maintenance Plan.

12-Month/12,000-Mile² Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty.

5-year/100,000-Mile³ Powertrain Limited Warranty for model years up to 2014.

¹Covers only scheduled oil changes with filter, tire rotations and 27 point inspections, according to your vehicle's recommended maintenance schedule for up to 2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Does not include air filters. Maximum of 4 service events. See participating dealer for other restrictions and complete details.

²Whichever comes first from date of purchase. See participating dealer for limited warranty details.

³Whichever comes first from original in-service date. See participating dealers for limited warranty details.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2009-2014 model year / Under 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 172-Point Vehicle Inspection and Reconditioning
Download checklist
Return/Exchange Program 3-Day 150-Mile Satisfaction Guarantee
Roadside Assistance Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2006 Chevrolet HHR Wagon

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