Under full throttle accleration the HHR suffers from average torque steer. It doesn't feel terribly slow, but it certainly isn't a rocketship. The shifter only offers D, I and L modes, which stand for Drive, Intermediate, and Low. It will not hold a gear and shifts whenever it wants to. In drive shifts are crisp and occur precisely at the 6,500-rpm redline. Putting the shifter in Low turns off traction control (there is no T/C button) until the vehicle shifts into second gear, when traction control turns back on.
We noted a lot of ABS noise and vibration, even for a low-cost car such as the HHR. The pedal doesn't allow for much modulation, and it feels too squishy. Stopping distances were mediocre but predictable, with little fade after the initial stop. Under hard braking the vehicle has a tendency to swerve and feel a bit top heavy, which did not leave us feeling very confident.
Suspension is very, very soft; you can tell the "Heritage High Roof" has a higher center of gravity than its Cobalt sibling. The electric power steering is still way too numb, but it is improved over the Malibu. Body roll was prevalent and the suspension tends to rebound, which can throw the vehicle over center as it builds momentum in the slalom, causing the HHR to feel unstable and ready to spin at the limit.