2011 Chevrolet HHR


#12 out of 12 in 2011 Wagons

2011 Chevrolet HHR Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Chevrolet HHR was new.


Performance: 7.0

The 2011 Chevrolet HHR’s performance isn't up to class standards. Reviewers have commented on the vehicle’s lackluster handling and acceleration, though most admit the HHR’s soft suspension settings shine on the highway.

  • "One of the best things you can say about a vehicle is that it handles like a smaller car and rides like a bigger one. Such is the case with the 2011 Chevrolet HHR." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Wind rush is well controlled, but engine buzz intrudes during acceleration. All models suffer from noticeable coarse-surface tire thrum." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The HHR has two available engines. The base engine is a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 155 horsepower; that engine is standard on the LS and 1LT trims. The 2LT trim gets a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 172 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard for all trims, but a four-speed automatic is optional. If you’re want a manual transmission because they’re typically more fun to drive, test drivers say you shouldn’t bother. The difference in performance for the two transmissions is negligible.

Overall, the amount of power available with either engine is so-so – other models in the class like the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen and the Hyundai Elantra Touring have much better performance. Reviewers do, however, like the HHR’s high fuel economy ratings.

The EPA rates the 2011 HHR with the base engine and manual transmission at 22/32 mpg city/highway. An HHR with a 2.4-liter engine and automatic transmission nets 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Either engine can use E85 gas, but averages are significantly lower. The base engine and manual transmission nets 16/23 mpg city/highway on flex fuel, and the 2.4-liter engine with an automatic gets 15/21 mpg city/highway.

  • "Even when outfitted with the base engine and four-speed automatic transmission, the HHR still feels adequately motivated." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The automatic transmission is responsive and quick to downshift. Manual versions feel only modestly faster. Around-town passing punch is good." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Most trims of the HHR have a compliant ride, but lack sporty performance. Many test drivers say steering is too light and too vague, and notice that the HHR’s brakes are not strong. There is an optional sport package, but they say it doesn’t make much of a difference.

  • “It has a comfortable enough ride, and handling is secure but not agile." -- Consumer Reports
  • "This is a kind of a wagon, after all, meant for carrying rather than driving. To us the effort level of the electric-assist steering feels too light, and the stopping distances with these tires and this front-disc/rear-drum brake package is relatively unimpressive." -- Edmunds
  • "The HHR handles better than a conventional crossover/utility, not as good as a compact car. Ride is a bit harsh and unrefined, but there's less body roll compared with the PT Cruiser." -- Motor Trend
  • "Excessive body motions and rubbery steering dilute the fun-to-drive factor…" -- Car and Driver
  • “Throttle response is a bit slow and the electrically-assisted power steering feels vague and somewhat disconnected." -- Kelley Blue Book

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