PerformanceKey Points: • Standard 2.2-liter, inline four
• Optional 2.4-liter, inline four
• 143 horsepower (2.2L); 172 horsepower (2.4L)
• Five-speed manual (standard); Four-speed automatic (optional)
• 30 mpg on the highway with either transmission
Among the things we like about the 2006 Chevrolet HHR, performance is near the end of a short list. Even with the optional 2.4-liter engine, which boasts 29 more horses than the standard motor, the Heritage High Roof (HHR) feels underpowered. Dig deep into the throttle, as is required to get any response for highway passes, and the cabin fills with raucous engine noise, though pinning the accelerator forces the smooth four-speed automatic transmission to downshift and get things moving. Around town, the HHR speaks with a mundane hum akin to the 1983 Chevy Celebrity – probably not the kind of retro engineers were going for. The powertrain is perfectly competent, but utterly devoid of any liveliness.
With the low fun quotient, drivers may expect the 2006 Chevrolet HHR to offer impressive fuel economy. That’s far from the case, unless one considers city mileage in the low 20s and highway mileage peaking at 30 mpg, for an underpowered four-cylinder, to be noteworthy. Those numbers failed to overwhelm us with positive emotion, so an average of 21.8 mpg after a week of mixed driving was especially disappointing.