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I spent 2 days and 250 miles with a new Chevy HHR LT rental. It was a combination of city and hwy driving around Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Here's a quick overview and my experience with the HHR.

First off, I think it's a very cool looking car. Personally I like it much more than the PT Cruiser, it's larger and has a more realistic look to me. Mine had the 17" chrome wheels (part of the Chrome Pkg- which add chrome everywhere). It seemed to have every option available except leather and XM. I priced it online and it came in at a steep $22k MSRP, but when was the last time a car sold anywhere near sticker.

The LT has the stronger engine (175 hp 165 lb ft) and the optional 4 spd auto trans (hello- this is 2007- ever heard of a 5 or 6 spd auto??) which felt sluggish off the line. Once going, pick up was adequate and around town you wouldn't really miss the lack of power. On the highway, it cruised easily at 75-80mph with minimal wind or engine noise which was somewhat of a suprise. The seats were comfortable but too soft for long trips (my butt fell asleep) and visibility was compromised by the gunslit sized windows. The instrumentation was cool, and the radio was the standard looking GM unit- which I think looks more modern and user friendly than Ford's. The interior lighting included very cool LED's.

Overall the interior was well laid out but suffered from several problems. First, the door panels didn't have a soft spot anywhere, not even the armrest. It was all hard, pebble grained plastic that looked and felt terrible. The dash suffered from the same materials. The cupholders were a bit awkward, and the window buttons get and F for location. They are down low on the center console in front of the shifter. Sometimes being different isn't a good thing- just put them on the door where they belong.

I didn't get a good idea on fuel economy, but EPA estimates of 23/30 seem obtainable. My 60+ mile hwy trip to New Orleans yielded about 31 mpg. Considering many V6 engines are getting 28-30 hwy mpg- I'd say an extra gear or two would help with the hwy mpg.

Overall I think the HHR is a nice car. I think I used the word "cool" about 50 times, which pretty much sums up my opinion of it's looks. Leave off some of the expensive options and you have a unique ride for less than 20k. Ditching the auto trans would likely help the acceleration and give it a sportier feel. If looks and "coolness" are your primary concern, the HHR is worth consideration. However, my personal pet peeve is interior quality and I just can't get past the hard surfaces of the dash and door panels. That alone would kill it for me. I've got another trip in a couple of weeks- sure wish I could get my hands on a Sonata or Camry.
 

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I had an HHR rental last year and all I can remember was the horrendous NVH of the A/C at idle. It was so bad I had to turn off the A/C at every stoplight, which wasn't so comfortable in Phoenix! I friend of mine had a different one and his had the same problem, so it wasn't just a defect. Hopefully they've fixed it for the 07 model year.
 

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Ming321,
That was an enjoyable review of the Chevy HHR, a good read. Hope you continue to post more reviews. Thanks.
 

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Hey, what is the deal on car rental................should you buy the damage waiver from the rental company or does your personal auto insurance cover or the credit card visa/mastercard bank have coverage? If anyone has experience on this, please chime in.
 

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The credit card you rent with will cover to some extent but I called my insurance(since nobody chimed in) and got the skinny. My policy will cover any rental just as if it was my own personal car as long as I have full coverage and the car on my policy is NOT being driven....aka my car will be in the garage as I drive the rental to Florida for some R&R. I would drive my Fusion but as this is a "guys only" trip, I'm leaving the new car at home for the wife and daughter. She doesn't like to drive my Monte Carlo she says it's too ghetto?....whatever that means? I rented a Tahoe as there will be 5 people and all their crap!
 

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Whatever that means? TOO GHETTO! It is probably because it is black with black wheels and 15% tint all around(illegal....totally). She also says it's a drug dealers car?.....whatever that means? I dabbled in college but didn't even have a car?
 
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