Used 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS
Used 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS for Sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
Recent improvements and updates have made the 2008 Chevrolet HHR a respectable choice for a small wagon.
Introduced two years ago, the Chevrolet HHR is a modern take on the expressive, big-fendered American vehicles of the late 1940s. Chevrolet says the HHR moniker refers to Heritage High Roof, and the model's overall styling was inspired by the 1949 Chevy Suburban. Most prospective buyers wouldn't know a '49 Suburban if it ran them over, but they will likely be drawn to the HHR's mix of classic-car styling, everyday practicality, mainstream mechanicals and affordable sticker price.
Like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Dodge Caliber, Pontiac Vibe and redesigned Scion xB, Chevy's sporty HHR offers a tall passenger compartment and lots of usable room. For example, the HHR is 4 inches shorter than the compact Chevy Cobalt, yet offers almost 6 extra inches of rear legroom. And at nearly 24 cubic feet with the rear seat up, the HHR offers one of the best luggage capacities in its class.
Where the HHR suffers is in overall performance and refinement. Its base engine struggles to sufficiently motivate the 3,100-pound vehicle, and the HHR doesn't feel as responsive as its lighter and less powerful rivals when accelerating or cornering. On the plus side, it does have a smooth and quiet ride, with a softly tuned suspension that handily soaks up bumps and surface irregularities.
Overall, the 2008 Chevrolet HHR delivers practical and roomy transportation with retro styling that's distinctive and appealing. But given that competitors like the Mazda 3 offer better performance and handling while the Scion xB is more up-to-date in terms of image and features, it's a good idea to check out all your options first before deciding on the HHR. That is, unless you want to wait for the 260-hp SS Turbocharged model expected later this year with high-performance suspension tuning, 18-inch wheels and various other goodies to sweeten the deal on this otherwise utilitarian retro-flavored wagon.
2008 Chevrolet HHR configurations
The compact, front-wheel-drive 2008 Chevrolet HHR is available as a regular four-door wagon or a two-seat Panel variant with solid and handle-less rear doors. The regular wagon comes in two main trim levels: LS and LT. The LS includes 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning with cabin filtration, cruise control, keyless entry, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, full power accessories and a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack.
The uplevel LT trim is actually available in two packages: standard 1LT and enhanced 2LT. The 1LT includes upgraded 16-inch wheels, an eight-way power driver seat and an enhanced MP3-compatible stereo. The sportier top-level 2LT adds a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, exterior chrome accents, color-keyed running boards, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and a premium audio speaker system with subwoofer.
Major options for the LT include remote vehicle starting (included with the automatic transmission), leather seating with heated front seats, in-dash CD changer, satellite radio and a sunroof. The HHR Panel van comes similarly equipped in the same trim levels but has solid rear cargo panel doors (they open via remote release), cargo floor storage compartments and a rear 40-amp power point for electronic equipment.
Performance & mpg
Base LS and midlevel 1LT HHRs come equipped with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 149 hp and 152 pound-feet of torque. Optional on the 1LT and standard on the top-level 2LT model is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder generating 175 horses and 167 lb-ft of torque. Both are backed by a standard five-speed manual transmission, with a four-speed automatic optional. The engines are somewhat noisy, and due to the HHR's heft, neither provides an abundance of thrust down low. However, the larger 2.4-liter delivers more spirited performance once engine rpm and road speed spool up. The EPA gives the 2008 Chevy HHR with the 2.4-liter engine and automatic a fuel economy estimate of 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
GM's OnStar emergency communications system is now standard on all 2008 Chevrolet HHRs. A basic front disc/rear drum brake setup is included across the lineup; ABS is standard on the 2LT and optional on the LS and 1LT as part of the Enhanced Safety Package, which also includes side curtain airbags. Front seat-mounted side airbags are not available. Traction control is included with ABS when ordered with an automatic transmission, and is standard on all 2LT vehicles, as is this year's new addition of stability control.
In National Highway Transportation Safety Administration testing, the HHR earned a highest possible five-star rating for occupant protection in both front and side-impact crash tests.
The Chevy HHR's strength is a smooth and quiet ride, and it's really in its element pointed straight down the highway. When the road gets curvy, it's best to maintain an easygoing pace, as the suspension and steering just can't keep up with overly aggressive driving. Body motions are not well controlled, and the electric-assisted steering is slow to respond and numb in feel. Braking is another weak area, as the HHR exhibits a loss of straight-line stability during maximum braking.
Attractive and functional, the 2008 Chevrolet HHR's cabin has handsome bright-ringed gauges, easy-to-use audio systems and impressive outward visibility for the regular wagon models. Less happily, the window buttons are awkwardly mounted behind the shifter, and some of the interior plastics are of mediocre quality. The standard cloth buckets are not as comfortable as we'd like, but the optional leather seats are better cushioned and more supportive. Legroom is ample front and rear owing to the HHR's voluminous layout, and the front passenger seat and rear seats fold easily to provide a flat load surface trimmed in easily cleaned plastic. Maximum cargo capacity is among the class leaders at 63 cubic feet.
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Features & Specs
More About This Model
The 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS does not want to kill you.
This cannot be said of all its competitors. We don't want to name names here, so let's just say that the HHR SS has really only one direct competitor, the Dodge Caliber SRT-4. This competitor acts like a drug-addled co-driver who grabs the steering wheel and saws wildly if you dare to use more than a feather's touch of throttle.
What the hell are we talking about? Why our old buddy torque steer, of course — that troublesome houseguest of powerful front-drive cars.
But the HHR SS badly wants to be your friend. And despite a few rough edges, it's a pretty genial companion.
Power to the (Less Old) People
With a turbocharged 2.0-liter pumping a healthy 260 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque into its bones, the 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS promised to be a fair amount more raucous than it turned out to be.
Certainly there are moments at full whack when the steering starts thinking about its independence. And you will feel some unwanted reticence through the little wagon's little steering wheel. But that's it.
It's a good thing, too, because the engineers at GM's Performance Division who tinkered with this PT Cruiser clone didn't intend for the HHR SS to be an all-out tuner car. They'll save that for the next Cobalt SS, which will also be powered by this same 2.0-liter turbo. In contrast, Chevrolet expects that the average HHR SS buyer will be in his 40s, pretty much like the buyers of the Chrysler PT Cruiser.
And unlike SRT-4 or the Mazdaspeed Mazda3 (another competitor, Chevy says), the HHR is available with an automatic transmission. In fact, the company says it expects 70 percent of SS buyers to opt for the slushbox instead of the Saab-supplied five-speed manual.
Once you combine all this with quasi-retro styling and a dramatically larger cargo hold than these competitors, you quickly realize the HHR SS is a pretty unique proposition. That its standard 18-inch wheels are available only in a glinting high polish must mean something as well.
The downside to the SS's relative docility is that it doesn't feel as fast as the 285-hp Caliber, which explodes with that characteristic turbo rush shortly before trying to steer you clear off the road. Chevrolet estimates that the 3,280-pound (with manual transmission) SS will get to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. If we can achieve this number when we strap our test gear to the car, it will only be a tenth of a second off the Caliber's pace. And, according to Chevy, the HHR SS will only be a couple of tenths behind the SRT-4 through the quarter-mile — 14.8 seconds vs. the 14.6 seconds we got from the Dodge.
The HHR SS's standard traction and stability control system has four settings: everything on (the default mode); traction control off; traction and stability control off; and competitive driving mode.
The competitive driving mode is accessed by two stabs at the traction control button on the center stack, and it backs off the threshold at which the stability control intervenes and also initiates a launch control program. At a stop with the clutch and gas pedals fully depressed, the engine revs to 4,100 rpm and holds steady. Release the clutch and the system allows some wheelspin, yet retards the engine spark to prevent overpowering the front tires. All you need to do to make speed is keep your right foot planted.
The system works pretty well, although it isn't foolproof. Dump the clutch too quickly and the engine bogs for a second. Ease off the pedal too gingerly and the cabin will fill with vaporized clutch lining. The system can't tell how grippy the pavement is either, so 4,100 rpm is the compromise because it covers as many situations as possible.
The SS also incorporates what racers call no-lift shift, as in don't lift off the gas while shifting. If you can retrain your right leg to stay planted, the system works smoothly. The turbo never gets a chance to rest, so there's no waiting for the power to come back on in your new, taller gear. Chevy reckons this system saves a bit of time on each shift — something on the order of a couple flaps of a hummingbird's wings, we imagine.
Driving Around Corners
Chevy makes a big deal of the HHR SS's somewhat unlikely pedigree as a veteran of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, noting that the trucklet holds the class record around the tortured north loop (8:43.52 minutes). The idea that there's really a defined class into which the HHR SS fits is, um, tenuous. But the SS's development on that most famous of test tracks does indicate Chevy's lofty goals.
We drove the HHR SS on one of the road courses at the compound of the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving at Firebird International Raceway in Arizona and, well, the thing handles pretty nicely. This is still a tall front-driver that carries 59 percent of its weight over the front axle, so it's no Formula Ford. But given these caveats and the pedestrian nature of its strut-type front suspension and torsion-beam rear axle, the thing is really capable around the track. The development team added bigger antiroll bars front and rear and stiffer springs and shocks all around, and the SS is more willing to rotate into the corners than the vast majority of front-drive cars. It's also genuinely fun.
Driving around town or even on snaking mountain roads, the HHR feels handy enough and seems to ride well. But despite the bigger bars, the car still rolls a fair amount in corners. And the HHR's pseudo-SUV high seating position exaggerates this impression.
Steering and Other Matters of Significance
The HHR SS's steering ratio is 14.8:1, much quicker than the standard HHR and quicker than the SRT-4, too. And commanded through the smaller-than-standard steering wheel, the SS feels lively, although GM's electric-boosted unit still feels artificial and not entirely progressive.
The shift linkage for the five-speed manual transmission has also gotten a taste of the performance pie. Its throws are shorter than the standard unit and the shift lever has been moved forward and upward on the center console. It's not the slickest shifter, but the throws are very short and its synchros are up to quick shifting. The tachometer, which looks smaller than some Panerai wristwatches we've seen, is not easily read.
The SS's four-wheel disc brakes are pretty reasonable, but a Brembo brake package will be offered as an option sometime in the spring of 2008, which brings larger front rotors and calipers.
Living the Dream
Chevy has dressed up the inside a bit with two-tone interior trim, including a startling black-and-bright-red combination. The seats, while more supportive than the standard units, are no match for the sweet Recaros that were originally offered on the old Cobalt SS Supercharged. We want those back, bad.
There's no hiding the HHR's proletarian origins, especially in interior materials that are a little cheap-looking. Then there's the wind and the road noise. And could somebody please mount a grab handle into this thing?
We're not sure who is going to buy the 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS. It's not likely to be us. We'd trade the Chevy's big cargo hold and cushier ride for the locked-down, precision feel and high-quality interior of the Mazdaspeed 3 any day.
At a starting price of $22,995 including destination, the SS is reasonably priced. Apparently Dodge thought that was a reasonable price for a turbocharged hot hatch, too, since the SRT-4 starts at exactly the same number of dollars. The Mazdaspeed 3 is cheaper by less than $100. Yet, somehow despite their similarities in price, power and configuration, these are three vastly different animals.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS Overview
The Used 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS is offered in the following styles: SS 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M).
What's a good price on a Used 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS?
Save up to $261 on one of 3 Used 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, VA with prices as low as $5,995 as of11/21/2018, based on data from dealers and consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from1 to 3.4 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for Used 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS trim styles:
- The Used 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS SS is priced between $5,995 and$9,495 with odometer readings between 102982 and109250 miles.
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Used 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS Listings and Inventory
There are currently 3 used and CPO 2008 Chevrolet HHR SSES listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,995 and mileage as low as 102982 miles. Simply research the type of used car you're interested in and then select a prew-owned vehicle from our massive database to find cheap used cars for sale near you. Once you have identified a used or CPO vehicle you're interested in, check the Carfax and Autocheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS. Then select Edmunds special offers, perks, deals, and incentives to contact the dealer of your choice and save up to $261 on a used or CPO 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS available from a dealership near you.
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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Chevrolet HHR?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.