I've had this car for about a month and a half now. What can I say? This car is OK, not good, not great. Good thing GM is offering huge discounts because it's not much better than some entry level cars. I was looking for something larger than compact after owning a van for a while. The size of this car is pretty good compared to small SUVs but, that's about it. A very loud Ecotech engines easily scares people at crossings but is kind of annoying (the older engine was quieter and you can't buy ethanol anywhere anyway). Bad gas mileage (not much better than the old van), creaks all around the dash and the outside air temp sensor is way off (5 -10 degrees). Go with Mazda 3 or similar.
Roomy interior up front with SUV type storage and does come with allot of standard stuff on the base model. Not much besides that.
This car could be pretty good if GM could build them a little better. Lose the useless Ecotech engine, fix the creaky dash problems (you should be able to make a smoother dash these days - it sounds like a real beater inside), move the rear view mirror up an inch or so and add a telescopic wheel as you have to move the seat back so far to get comfortable in this thing. I actually might like this car if they fixed some of these minor issues that make it feel like a cheapo ****box. I'm already planning my next vehicle purchase as I don't don't think this car will last too long!
Weird that you even made the purchase for the HHR... almost everything you mentioned could have been known from a basic test drive. And why would I want to buy a Mazda 3 over this? The Mazda 3 Hatch doesn't have the same cargo features the HHR has. Sounds like you just has buyer's remorse and maybe had different expectations. I've had BMW, Infiniti, Lexus before this car and love the HHR!