The HHR is a good idea, a compact sport ute designed after a vintage Suburuban. However, it comes with flaws. Chrome stickers that easily peel off of door handles are just part of drawbacks to a decent car that has some great potential & storage capabilities. The interior, while not badly laid out, is littered with cheap plastics. A high belt line & low roof line give a nice look but combine for poor headroom & blind spots. The 4 spd auto trans. is antiquated but shifting is good & fuel economy is ok but should be better. Power is also good & handling is exceptional for the bulky design, but is hampered by torque steer. Ride is good but comes with rattles & squeaks. Still, a good attempt.
The HHR has a good deal of storage, in part due to the bulky design, in part due to a number of foldable seating configurations. The back seats fold flat..ish, as does the front passenger seat. With all seats folded down, you can add a great deal of cargo and not need a guy with cones to help you park. Also, designing appeals to those of us who like retro cars & still want current technology.
The dash is appealing too (aside from the cheap plastic) & gauges are well laid out. Performance is good (better in the SS), but be prepared for some torque steer. Handling is surprisingly good & the seats sit nice & high & are comfortable for moderate road trips.
While some would disagree, I would like to see four wheel disc brakes on this car (they were vailable on the Pontiac Vibe, as was AWD, which would be a great option for the HHR IMO). Also, I have had problems with factory brakes & would urge HHR owners to replace factory brakes with aftermarket ones as soon as they go on you. Also, I've read that there are problems with the front end of this vehicle, so I would address those issues that result in literal rattle traps (mine is among them). There have also been issues with leaks from sunroofs and premature rusting on the bottom of door panels. It's a shame Chev. didn't address these & keep making the HHR, opting for the even quirkier Orlando