The Chevrolet HHR could very well be on its way out as its sister vehicle, the Chevrolet Cobalt, is discontinued. The Cobalt is making way for the Chevy Cruze which is hitting dealerships across the United States and Canada beginning in September 2010.
But, first some background on the styling and the car. The HHR, which stands for heritage high roof, is one of many retro-styled cars that have appeared since the 1990s. The Volkswagen New Beetle and the Ford Thunderbird were among the earlier representations of this phenomenon with the Chrysler PT Cruiser perhaps being the best seller of them all.
The Chevrolet HHR, which made its debut for the 2006 model year, is one of the last of the retro pack, a design initiative which seems to have passed by. Early on, retro cars were considered to offer the best of traditional vehicle styling combined with modern technology. The thinking here was that if you loved your 1960s super car, then you’ll love it restyled for contemporary driving.
A word of note: yes, the retro segment is still strong when it comes to pony cars. The Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro are visible proof that when it comes to incorporating older styling cues, the coupes have it. Beyond this particularly narrow segment, retro-styling isn’t a hit.
Now back to the Chevrolet HHR. Like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, the HHR is styled like a panel truck, vehicles popular in the 1950s. Indeed, Chevrolet says that it was the 1949 Chevrolet Suburban which was used to design the HHR.
Much smaller and lighter than their predecessors, the newest panel trucks feature four cylinder engines and can get at least 30 miles to the gallon the highway. Surprisingly roomy inside, the Chevrolet HHR has become the favorite of commercial accounts who appreciate its storage capacity, but definitely do not need a van or a truck.
The HHR is powered by either a 2.2-liter or 2.4-liter four cylinder engine paired with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Built in Mexico, this front wheel drive vehicle achieves 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. But it is its Mexican location which could extend the lifespan of this vehicle by several years.
Indeed, Ramos Arizpe, Mexico is a far different place than Lordstown, Ohio, which previously produced the Chevrolet Cobalt and now produces the Chevrolet Cruze. Ramos Arizpe features two assembly plants and plants dedicated for stamping, engine and transmission. The Cadillac SRX and other compact crossovers are also built at these plants which means that as long as an assembly line is available and demand remains, then the HHR could continue to be built.
Looking beyond model year 2011 the lifespan of the Chevrolet HHR is in doubt, unless GM decides to keep the same styling as Chrysler did with the PT Cruiser throughout its 11-year model run. That’s entirely possible particularly if demand holds up. With the PT Cruiser out of the way, the only compact competition for the HHR is the Ford Transit Connect, an entirely different and more expensive model than the Chevrolet HHR.