After working at GM for 30 years and seeing a lot of different designs this one has been an eye catcher from the start. There are several areas that cold have made this little ride even better. Such as a six speed auto transmission for mileage with the double overdrive and a independent rear suspension. Other than that a very practical vehicle. Getting in and out is very easy for someone short or a 6 footer plus.
This car purchase occurred when my beloved Volvo wagon got totaled. I bought a Chrysler Pacifica because it was AWD. My wife drove a 2003 Cavalier that she, apparently, loved. I hated that thing -- it was low to the ground, had awful safety ratings, terrible reliability. She was carting around the kids and her mother on shopping trips almost daily in a cramped compact. I gave her the Pacifica because of the AWD (Northeast winters), the extreme level of comfort you can achieve with proper (frequent) maintenance, better safety rating and I took the Cavalier. I couldn't stand it and drove it to a dealership 2 months later. I bought a 2011 HHR in 2015.
Yes, I realize that the HHR is a glorified Cobalt which is a "newer" Cavalier. There is nothing cool about this car if you're under 70. There is no resale value to this car. I cared that I was buying a 2011 Something with 55K in 2015 for under $10K that still carried a tiny slice of a GM warranty.
-- The ride quality is "acceptable"... a little rough, but not annoying. Halfway decent pick-up. -- The ability to haul moderate sized items is "very good". You can put in a standard walk-behind lawnmower relatively easily with room for a child's car seat. -- The MPG is "alright"... 23 MPG, but it seems like I fill up rarely. -- The interior is "alright"... it's true, it's a pile of plastic inside, but it cleans easily. -- The instrumentation is "alright/very good"... the dash has a lot of info (shows MPG, 2 trip odometers, tire pressure, radiator temp, outdoor temp), but my button to change between categories can become unresponsive at times, telling me this isn't a strongly assembled system. Plus, I know that the outdoor temp is usually wrong. I take it with a grain of salt. Plus, this is an 1LT edition... but it lacks nearly ALL of the 1LT upgrades. I think I got one power seat out of the deal. -- The stock speakers are "acceptable"... slightly better than the old Cavalier. It has an AUX jack which is helpful alongside a CD player. -- It has, as of now, never needed repair.
Wife and I bought this car about a year back. So far we use it for all of our trips and like the quiet ride. We now have 35k on it and it runs like a dream. Smooth auto trans and quite peppy for 2.2 - 4 cyl engine. We can get all the groceries, and all of our newborns equipment in the hatch. We get between 26.5-28mpg on average. Fun little car, we have enjoyed it so far. Wish they didn't discontinue them!
Good gas mileage. Nice exterior styling.