I had rented a 2011 Chevy HHR some months ago and really liked it. So, when I recently decided to trade in my old car, I was thrilled to see that the dealer had a 2008 model available for sale. I was mostly happy with my purchase until a couple of weeks later, when the car suddenly stopped dead in the middle of the freeway. In rush-hour traffic! If not for an angel in a pickup truck who saw my distress and positioned himself behind me to protect me, I could very well have been injured or worse. The same goes for anyone who might have had the misfortune to be in my path at the time. After putting the car in park, turning off the engine and starting it up again, the car drove as if nothing happened. The next day, I brought the car to the dealer for repair. They kept it overnight and called me the next day to say that their mechanics could not find a single thing wrong with it and that I should come and get it. I told them that, whether or not they could detect a problem, there was something dangerously wrong with the car, and I refused to take it back. I then went online (which I probably should have done before I bought the car) and found that, although there had not been a factory recall of this model for this particular malfunction, other people reported having the same problem; and their mechanics could also not figure out the reason for this sporadic occurrence. In fact, I found a link to an Eyewitness News segment, in which they featured this exact problem with the 2008 Chevrolet HHR. They also interviewed a woman who reported that her car stopped dead while crossing a train track. Apparently, however, Chevrolet would not own up to this being a more widespread issue with this model. I then called a friend who has been building all sorts of cars for most of his life. He said the problem was almost definitely with the valves that control the vacuum booster, which seem to be occasionally misfiring. He added that as so much of what goes into cars these days is electronically controlled, it is sometimes very difficult to pinpoint and correct a malfunction. I did report all my findings to the service department. Two additional features I found I disliked about the car are: 1) The overhead light is too far back to be of much use to anyone in the front seat. There is a bit of lighting available from the rear-view mirror, but not enough to easily glance at printed driving directions at night, for example. Definitely a nuisance for those of us who don't yet have GPS capability. 2) The material covering the outside of the doors is very flimsy. I discovered this when I was standing outside the car and happened to lean against the back door on the driver's side. To my surprise, I felt it pop in and then out. An empty runaway supermarket shopping cart could almost certainly dent it. Fortunately, the dealer agreed to void the entire purchase and let me choose another car. This time, a wiser me had the salesman check online reviews of the model I wanted before signing on the dotted line.
Smooth car, comfortable, lots of space
2011 HHR performs well on the highway. Good mileage in the city and on the highway. Gives the feel of being in a SUV. Would prefer the cup holder was up a little more or in a different position but overall I'm enjoying the ride.