The 2011 Chevrolet HHR is the last production year for this compact wagon; a good thing since it’s time for the model to retire. What was once a good-looking compact hauler with utilitarian features is now dated and universally dinged by reviewers for its budget interior and barely passable performance. The retro styling will still appeal to some, so if you want an HHR, the time is now. It sells in an invoice range of $17,971 to $18,931 and averages 22 mpg city and 32 highway.
Other compact wagons to consider include the Hyundai Elantra Touring with a base price of about $16,000 and a fantastic 65.3 cubic feet of space when the rear seats are folded. If you’re just after old school looks, it would really hard to go wrong with the Mini Cooper Clubman, which is praised for its driving dynamics. (Also test drive the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen.)
The four-door HHR is offered in LS, 1LT, and 2LT trims and there’s also a two-seat Panel variant with rear cargo doors that has been popular with delivery companies. There are two engine choices, a base 2.2-liter four-cylinder with 155 hp (standard on the LS and 1LT) and a 2.4-liter with 172 hp on the 2LT. All trims get a five-speed manual with an option for a four-speed automatic.
HHR actually stands for “Heritage High Roof,” which refers to the design inspiration of the 1949 Chevy Suburban. The look has been popular, but not without issues. The thick pillars and squat windows have proved to restrict rear visibility and even to create forward blind spots. There’s an optional rear parking assist and it’s a very good idea to go with that addition.
With room for five, the interior of the HHR is roomy and versatile, handling people and cargo with equal ease. The front passenger seat and the 60/40-split rear seat fold to create a load floor. Leather is an option on all models. Features on the base model include an AF.FM unit with a CD player, XM on a three-month trial, MP3 playback, an auxiliary input jack, and cruise control. Add a USB port for $100. As you move up through the trims, you can pick up premium sound, an automatic dimming rearview mirror, rear park assist, a leather-wrapped wheel, Bluetooth, lumbar support, heated seats, a power driver seat, and a sunroof.
In terms of safety, the insurance industry – which is the only entity to have tested the HHR comprehensively — has given it a good rating on front offset tests, marginal in rear crashes, and just acceptable for side impact. Standard safety features include OnStar, traction control, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control.
The HHR has been a fun model, trading mainly on its hauling versatility and retro styling. All good things, however, must come to an end. If you’ve been wanting one of these funky little compact wagons, get it now, because the 2011 Chevrolet HHR is the last of its kind.