When my wife & I were looking for a commuter car, we started at Honda (you want how much!?), went to Toyota, Hyundai, Mazda, & Nissan (almost went with the Rogue); our last stop was at the good old Chevy dealer as an almost patriotic afterthought but we were pleasantly surprised by the value of this car, gets acceptable mileage, lots of stock doodads, power is adequate (but surprising for a 4 banger). With the rear seats folded it holds lots. It can even be used as the family of 4 car (or short time replacement when the sport ute or mini van is being serviced). Yep, we think it was a great buy and would recommend. (Just wish we went with the LT for the better seats & don't get the sunroof).
Plenty of room for a small car. Good bright standard lights. OnStar. Better "Ole Stylin" than your granpa's sweater vest.
Put car window switches back on the doors (just like god intended). Better interior night lighting. Skinny up the front window posts. Wider view side mirrors standard. Better mileage on this engine.
I was drawn to the HHR by its combination small-ish size but generous cargo space. I read the reviews, pro and con, and took a test drive. Initially, I wasn't hooked. The test drive was in a loaded LT, which made the car too costly and too gadget-laden to make me leery of potentially costly repairs. My interest in the car held, however, and a year later I test drove an LS with essentially just ABS and side airbags as options (std on the '09s). I liked it. Bought it. Have been driving it for 6 months and still am happy. Very comfortable. Handles well. Lots of fun to drive. Took about a week to adjust to the short windshield and "blind" spots, but no big deal.
Fun to drive and maneuvers quick. You sit a bit higher than in a car, so good visibility.
As others have said, change cupholder placement and add about 2" more windshield at the top. The center PW buttons are no big deal for me.
I still really enjoy this car after driving it for about 6 months. I've had no problems at all and have noticed quite a few more on the roads lately. The gas mileage isn't quite what I was hoping for - only about 22 mpg, doing almost all city driving - but I can still go 2-3 weeks between fill-ups. I'm still very happy with the LS model, it may not be as fast or as stylish as the LT or SS models, but for just driving back and forth to work and around town it works perfectly.
I really like the cargo space when the rear seat is folded down. There are also a couple of extra little cargo spaces built into the rear area that I just recently discovered. They aren't huge, but are a good place to store an emergency blanket, flashlight, etc.
My biggest complaint is the lack of storage area in the front. The glove box built in the dash is awkward at best and the little space under the radio is pretty much useless. Another console area for storage, especially for CD's, would be a nice addition.
2008 Chevrolet HHR SS 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
I have almost 3000 miles on the SS. Gas mileage is better than expected so far. I commute 50 miles round trip, mostly the Katy Freeway in Houston. The last four tanks averaged 26.5 mpg (actual calculated miles divided by gallons purchased, not the car's computer mpg display.) My previous vehicle was a 2000 Tahoe, a great truck with no problems. The handling and acceleration of the SS is great. I don't have the brake issues other posters have noted. I plan to put a lot of miles on the car.
Top storage bin on dash, great gas mileage, overall performance, styling. (I learned to drive on a 1948 Chevy pickup so the appearance is in my "heritage.")
A little more headroom. (I have sunroof and I am 6'2". I have about an inch of headroom, as much as I had with my '98 Blazer with sunroof.) Also a telescoping steering wheel for better hand and arm positioning. A better selection of interior colors; black (or ebony combinations are not my favorite.)
This car has been a pleasant surprise so far. It is much quieter than the Acura RSX that I replaced after the Acura had multiple trans problems and the warranty was over. Honda lost me on that car. The Chevy gets great gas mileage, etc. It is hard sometimes to see out of so I have to be sure, the power window switches are placed out of reach, but no car is perfect. My black lab is in heaven with her head hanging out the right rear window. The stereo is A-OK. Mine is a stick shift because I am a stick shift guy and I am happy with the performance of the trans. The car is quiet, rattle free, compact, good mileage, stylish, and my dog loves it. I'd buy a another one in a heart beat.