The vehicle's design was inspired by the mid-1940s Chevrolet cars and trucks, specifically the 1947 Chevrolet Suburban and Advance Design pickups, with large, square fender flares and a hemispherical grille. The design of the HHR has been credited to Bryan Nesbitt who was a former designer at Chrysler where he was the lead designer of the Chrysler PT Cruiser. Nesbitt was recruited by GM to join its design staff and served for a time as the chief designer of the Chevrolet brand. The HHR had a cargo-carrying capacity of 62.7 cubic feet (1.78 m3). All models had a flat-load floor (passenger models have 60/40 split bench) and fold-flat front passenger seat. For the 2007 model year, it was available in five trim levels; LS, LT, 2LT, and Special Edition. A panel van variant was also made available in 2007 for only the LT trim and became available on all trim levels in 2008.
Assembly and sales
Chevrolet HHR (Japanese version)
The HHR was assembled in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, and was available for sale throughout North America. The HHR was also exported to Japan by way of the motor vehicles business unit of Mitsui. Japanese buyers were liable for annual taxes due to the engine displacement and width dimensions which didn't comply with the "compact class" dimension regulations imposed by the Japanese Government. First year sales exceeded 93,000 through June 2006.. The HHR was partially available in Europe and is replaced now by the Chevrolet Orlando. In early 2009, the Chevrolet HHR was discontinued from the Mexican lineup due to poor sales.
2008 Chevrolet HHR SS Turbocharged
In October 2006, Cheryl Catton, director of car marketing and retail integration for Chevy, confirmed that a high performance variant of the HHR would be built. The vehicle was expected to be released with SS moniker for the 2008 model year and use the Ecotec LNFturbocharged engine found in the Pontiac Solstice GXP and Saturn Sky Red Line.
On 16 August 2007, Chevrolet officially revealed the 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS Turbocharged at the Woodward Dream Cruise in Birmingham, Michigan. It was introduced as a 2008 model in fall 2007. The SS Turbocharged features a 2.0 L (120 cu in) turbochargedEcotec LNFI4engine and intercooler that produces 260 bhp (190 kW) (235 bhp (175 kW) with the optional 4-speed automatic), race-tuned high-performance suspension, five-speed manual transmission with short-throw shifter, standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes, ground effects with unique front and rear fascias, aggressive black cross-mesh grille, liftgate-mounted aero spoiler, an analog A-pillar-mounted titanium boost gauge, leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted audio controls, and unique 18 in (460 mm) high-polished aluminum wheels.
Chevrolet also introduced the HHR SS Panel Concept on 30 October 2007 at the 2007 SEMA Show. This was made into a production model for the 2009 model year.
The SS model was removed from the market after the 2010 model year due to GM shuttering its HPVO Group. In addition, GM phased out all GM badges from the front doors for the 2010.5 model year, including the Chevrolet HHR.
In the fourth quarter of 2010, Chevrolet announced that the HHR would be discontinued after the 2011 model year, with the last HHR's available in dealerships starting in late January to early February. HHRs were also available for fleet order until May 2011.
2007: HHR Panel launched. Intended for commercial use, the rear side windows & rear seat are deleted & additional floor storage is offered. The 2.4 LE5 engine was retuned for more power while retaining the same fuel economy. The 2.2L L61 engine received some significant internal upgrades including a higher-strength Gen II block and revised cylinder head (enlarged exhaust ports) and camshaft design (increased exhaust valve duration). The engine also switched from wasted spark ignition to individual coil-on-plug ignition. Upgraded engine was controlled by new 32-bit ECM (E37). These changes increase horsepower slightly and retain similar fuel economy. Ebony interior now available.
2008: New "SS" model introduced. Tire pressure monitoring system now standard (except in Canada). GM's OnStar was also now included with every model. Electronic stability control is available as an option. Four new exterior colors available.
2009: Flex-Fuel (E85) was added to the 2.2 and 2.4 engines. The 2.2 engine now comes with Variable Valve Timing (VVT).The interior was slightly changed: power window control switches were relocated from the lower center dashboard to the more traditional drivers-side door; interior overhead lighting was improved; AM/FM stereo with USB port was now optionally available on LT/SS models. Side curtain airbags & electronic stability control is now standard across all models (except in Canada).
2010: GM phased out all GM badges from the front doors halfway through the model year (2010.5). 3 new paint colors added (8 total), down from 10 color options in 2009. Side curtain airbags & electronic stability control is now standard for Canadian models.
2011: SS model discontinued. Cashmere interior removed from options.
Flex-Fuel (E85) was added to the 2.2 & 2.4 engines for the 2009 model year; these were the first Four-Cylinder Flex-Fuel Engines from GM in North America.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests the HHR received a "Good" overall score in the frontal offset crash test, and an "Acceptable" score in side impacts on models equipped with side curtain airbags.
Side curtain airbags became standard for 2008 models. However, side torso airbags were never made available.