Whether you like its retro-themed style or not, the Chevrolet HHR is arguably better looking than the PT Cruiser -- the car to which it's been so closely compared. And according to GM's sales figures, the HHR is selling very well, while the PT is headed off to the scrap heap shortly. The Bow Tie folks are reporting an eight percent sales increase in the first half of 2008 compared to the same time last year, a trend likely aided by the newly-released HHR SS and higher gas prices.

For the 2009 model year, Chevrolet is adding a "blank canvas" Panel SS version to the HHR lineup aimed at giving performance minded customers or business owners the best option in expressing their "automotive creativity." Also revised for the upcoming model year is the base 2.2-liter Ecotec engine that is now outfitted with variable valve timing. The resulting unit is modestly bumped by six horsepower to 155. Flex-fuel capability in its 2.2-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines is also now available on all LS and LT models, further aiding in fuel economy.

Inside the 2009 HHR's cabin, passengers will find a slightly revised interior. Window switches have been moved to each of the doors, while new cup holders keep drinks better in place while in transit according to Chevy. Refreshed interior lighting is in place, as is standard XM Radio and OnStar. Like previous models, a 60/40 rear seat and fully-folding front passenger chair are standard on all models. Available Bluetooth connectivity and a rear back up camera are new for 2009 as well. All HHR models receive roof rail side airbags on top of StabiliTrak traction control and anti-lock brakes for added safety.

Three fresh color choices -- Silver Ice Metallic, Gold Mist Metallic and Aqua Blue Metallic -- have been added the HHR's color pallet. Owners will be given the choice of smoke or silver strip packaging should they really want to go retro.

GM's Performance Division had some fun for 2009 and mixed the newly introduced flat panel HHR model with its sportier and racier HHR SS, resulting in the HHR Panel SS. If you're not already in the know, HHRs equipped with panels have no rear windows and doors, but instead metal paneling - a trait akin to the 1949 Chevrolet Suburban. Rear seating has been removed, giving the Panel a large, flat cargo floor complete with ties downs and hidden storage compartments.

Like the HHR SS, the Panel SS uses an Ecotec 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo four-cylinder taken from the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky Red Line. The boosted engine makes a hearty 260 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque that is sent to the front wheels via an F35 five-speed manual. An automatic gearbox is available, but those opting for it will lose 10 ponies. According to Chevrolet, both Nurburgring tested SS models can hit 60 in 6.3 seconds and reach a top speed of over 150 mph. Cornering ability is improved thanks in part to a standard limited-slip differential and a sport tuned suspension. Down the drag strip, the SS-badged HHR takes roughly 14.8 seconds at 98.5 mph to cover a quarter mile.

While much the same exterior and chassis setup can be found on the previous HHR LS and LT models, distinguishing the SS versions are new 18-inch forged aluminum wheels set ahead of four-piston Brembo brakes up front. Unique mesh grilles and body colored accents adorn the outside, as does the mandatory "SS" badging.

Inside the SS models is a sportier cabin space clad with extra bolstered sport seats marked with SS logos, a smaller diameter sport steering wheel and short throw shifter positioned higher for an easier reach. For 2009, a reconfigurable performance display much like the unit found in the Pontiac G8 GT has been placed in the A-pillar and records zero to sixty and lateral acceleration numbers.

With more consumers heading down market to smaller, more fuel efficient crossovers, the 2009 Chevrolet HHR looks likely to maintain its sales traction into the 2009 model year against some strong class competitors.


2009 Chevrolet HHR
Vehicle layout 5-pass, 5-door / front-engine, front -wheel drive (HHR LS, LT and SS); 2-pass, 5-door / front-engine, front -wheel drive (HHR Panel LS, LT and SS)
Engine 2.2L/ 155-hp/150-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4; 2.4L/ 172-hp/167-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4; 2.0L/260-hp/260-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 turbo (manual); 2.0L/250-hp/223-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 turbo (auto)
Transmission 4-speed automatic; 5-speed manual
Curb weight (dist f/r) 3155-1524lbs (mfr)
Wheelbase 103.6 in
Length x width x height 176.2-176.5 x 69.1 x 62.5 in
Headroom, f/r 39.6/39 in
Legroom, f/r 40.6/39.5 in
Shoulder room, f/r 53.5/52.7 in
Cargo volume 25.2-63.1 cu ft
Towing capacity 1000 lbs
EPA City/Hwy Econ 20-22/28-29 mpg
CO2 Emissions 0.79-0.85 lb/mile

Below is the official press release from Chevrolet for the 2009 Chevy HHR.

2009 CHEVY HHR: NEW HHR PANEL SS, FLEXFUEL CAPABILITY AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES BROADEN CHOICES AND STRENGTHEN HHR'S VALUE STORY

New for 2009
• HHR Panel SS model
• Reconfigurable performance display (SS models)
• SS Performance Package featuring Brembo four-piston front brake calipers and limited-slip differential
• Solid rear quarter windows (window delete) available on SS
• Bluetooth interface for phone
• Available rear backup camera
• AM/FM stereo with CD, with USB port and AUX input jack
• XM Satellite Radio standard on all models
• Three new exterior colors: Silver Ice Metallic, Gold Mist Metallic and Aqua Blue Metallic
• 2.2L engine with continuously variable valve timing delivers more power, greater fuel economy
• E85 FlexFuel capability on the 2.2L and 2.4L engines
• StabiliTrak, traction control and ABS standard on all models
• Roof rail side air bags standard on all models
• Center console with improved cupholders and relocated window switches
• Revised overhead lighting
• Driver and passenger performance seats with UltraLux inserts
• New 17-inch ChromeTech wheels standard on 2LT
• Smoke or Silver accent stripes available

Entering its fourth year of production, the fun, stylish and efficient Chevy HHR continues to claim a growing share of the compact segment. Despite a challenging market in early 2008, HHR sales were up 8 percent, maintaining the momentum of 2007. That year, HHR sales topped 105,000 - a record that beat 2006's 101,000 sales by about 4 percent.

Powerful and efficient Ecotec engines are at the heart of the HHR lineup's success. They provide good performance, value and convenience. Variable valve timing added to the base 2.2L Ecotec engine for '09 enables more efficient performance, along with an increase in horsepower from 149 (111 kW) to 155 (115 kW)•. This enhances the HHR's fuel economy, giving it a driving range of approximately 500 miles and reducing the frequency of stopping for a fill-up.

Also new for '09, the HHR's 2.2L and 2.4L Ecotec engines are FlexFuel capable, meaning they can run on E85 ethanol, gasoline or any combination of the two fuels. Also, the 2.2L engine receives variable valve timing technology that optimizes performance and efficiency.

"HHR has it all - style, value, quality and, most of all, a fun spirit," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "There aren't many competitors that equal the HHR's great efficiency and none is as distinctive or offers such a wide array of choices - including the high-performance HHR SS."

The HHR brings a turbocharged dose of thrills that is unmatched in the segment. For '09, the mad scientists at GM Performance Division have combined the SS's DNA with the unique HHR Panel to create a limited-edition HHR Panel SS. It combines all of the SS's performance attributes with the Panel's "blank canvas" styling, making it a perfect choice for enthusiasts and performance-oriented business owners to personalize. The SS treatment also is available on HHR models with solid rear quarters (window delete).

The HHR SS is a high-performance vehicle like no other. Features such as "no-lift shift" and other driver-selectable performance modes help it achieve 0-60 mph performance in 6.3 seconds and cover the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 98.5 mph. The top speed is more than 150 mph, with the manual transmission. As with other GM Performance Division-developed vehicles, the HHR SS was validated on Germany's famed Nrburgring racing circuit, where it set a new lap record of 8:43.52 minutes for its class.

The SS's turbocharged and direct injected 2.0L Ecotec engine is also an efficient performer, helping the HHR SS achieve EPA-rated highway mileage of 29 mpg with the manual transmission and 28 mpg with the automatic.

A new SS Performance Package debuts in '09 and includes Brembo four-piston front brake calipers and a limited-slip differential.

New for 2009
In addition to the new HHR Panel SS model, variable valve timing for the 2.2L engine and E85 FlexFuel capability for the 2.2L and 2.4L engines, new technology and safety features highlight the cross-lineup changes for 2009, as well as the inclusion of some previously optional equipment as standard. Here's a look at the new and revised features:

Bluetooth connectivity: This wireless interface is compatible with a phone and the vehicle's radio, allowing hands-free calling and wireless connection of audio devices to be played through the radio.

Rear backup up camera: Available on all models, this safety feature provides a view of people or objects in the reversing path of the HHR (interim availability).

Interior revisions: An improved cupholder placement is achieved with the revised console, which moves the power window switches to the door panels. Also, the overhead lighting is revised.

Driver and passenger performance seats: These available seats are trimmed in UltraLux.

Stripe package: Stripe packages are available to accent the HHR's classic lines. They're available in Smoke or Silver.

New 17-inch ChromeTech aluminum wheels. They're standard on 2LT models.

Three new exterior colors: Silver Ice Metallic, Gold Mist Metallic and Aqua Blue Metallic.

Reconfigurable performance display: A performance-complementing feature for SS models; see the "HHR interior" section below for more information.

Enhanced standard safety equipment: Roof rail air bags, StabiliTrak electronic stability control system; traction control and anti-lock brakes are now standard on all models.

XM Satellite Radio: It is now standard on all models.

HHR lineup at a glance
Featuring an open interior that provides the spaciousness and cargo capacity of an SUV, the HHR has easy-to-maneuver dimensions and room for just about any lifestyle interest. The rear seats fold flat, providing 57.7 cubic feet (1,634 L) of convenient storage. With the rear seats up, the straight roofline and rear liftgate maximize cargo capacity, offering 25.2 cubic feet (638 L). Reconfigurable and convenient storage compartments accommodate everything from groceries to surfboards.

The unique HHR Panel adds a unique dimension of functionality to the lineup. It forges a new market as a great-looking, capable vehicle for business needs or enthusiasts who seek a broad canvas on which to express their automotive creativity.

HHR and HHR Panel models are available in LS, LT and SS models.

The HHR has received critical acclaim and federal recognition for its safety features. Since its launch, HHR has received five-star crash ratings - the highest rating awarded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program. The five-star ratings were awarded for the driver and right-front passenger in a frontal crash, as well as five-star side-impact crash ratings for front-seat and rear-seat passengers. The HHR also was the highest-rated SUV for the 2006 model year in NHTSA rollover testing.

Features including StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, tire pressure monitoring system, anti-lock brakes and traction control are standard. And new for 2009, side curtain air bags are standard on all models (they were previously available on some models).

HHR design
HHR is a four-door vehicle with a rear touchpad liftgate. Its high roof evokes the look of the innovative 1949 Chevy Suburban, while other exterior cues carry unmistakably Chevy elements, such as the bold bowtie grille badge and round taillamps, which are reminiscent of earlier Corvettes.

The HHR features deep-draw, flared fenders that tuck in at the rockers for a solid, firmly planted stance. A one-piece stamped metal hood is reminiscent of the '49 Suburban's heritage and is proof of precise assembly quality. More quality touches are found in the single-cavity headlamp design, which incorporates jeweled lighting effects, and in the flared, twin round-taillamp design. Stamped door and window appearances with a one-piece wraparound molding contribute to the clean, detailed design. The HHR's rear window is flush with the body side.

The HHR Panel features windowless side panels and rear cargo doors in place of conventional rear doors. A solid rear quarter panel option enables the customized look of the unique HHR Panel, but with a full, five-passenger interior environment.

The HHR SS/HHR Panel SS is distinguished on the exterior with several unique features:

• Unique dam-style front fascia with fog lamps
• Mesh-style upper and lower grilles
• Specific rear fascia with outlet for single bright exhaust tip
• Rear spoiler (mounted above rear glass)
• Specific rocker moldings
• Body-color door handles, mirror caps and rear license plate surround
• SS badges on the front doors and rear liftgate

Large, five-spoke 18-inch polished forged aluminum wheels and performance tires are standard and are tailored with the specific body enhancements to give the HHR SS a lower, performance-oriented stance.

HHR interior
Like the rest of the vehicle, the HHR's interior combines the reassuring high visibility and cargo flexibility of an SUV with the comfort, appointments, driving ease and ergonomics of an upscale sedan. The vehicle's high roofline provides increased headroom and creates an open, airy environment.

The HHR's interior evokes a feeling of roominess. Detailed, jewel-like instrument displays and chrome accents contribute to the interior style. Interior color combinations feature darker colors on upper sections of the interior and lighter colors for lower sections. Quality also is conveyed in the tailored seats, which provide firmer support, sculpture and plenty of comfort for long drives. The 60/40-split folding rear seat offers generous and comfortable seating for three, along with comfortable legroom.

HHR also has standard air conditioning, providing comfortable levels of airflow, cooling capability and reduced cool-down time. The system is designed to provide efficient side-window defogging and enhanced rear-window defogging.

The HHR SS/HHR Panel SS interior is distinguished with the following features:

• Sport seats with modified seatback bolsters provide enhanced support and mesh-style impression cloth coverings with UltraLux inserts in the center section for additional grip; "SS" logos are embroidered on the front seats
• An optional driver's side performance seat developed by GM Performance Division is available with a high bolster, extended-length seat cushion and a high bolster seatback
• Short-throw manual shifter that is mounted higher and farther forward; throws between gears are 30-percent shorter than non-SS models, with a firmer and more precise feel
• A smaller-diameter steering wheel that complements the SS's quicker-acting, more precise steering system; it is emblazoned with the SS logo and offers controls for the radio and other features
• A-pillar boost gauge - a signature feature of Chevys with the turbocharged 2.0L Ecotec
• 140-mph (225 km/h) speedometer
• The standard Driver Information Center located in the gauge cluster allows the driver to engage several SS-specific features, including a "Competitive" mode that is designed for closed-course performance driving and adjusts chassis controls (including turning off traction control) in controlled driving conditions
• SS-specific satin nickel trim accents the cabin, enhancing the distinctive and performance-oriented theme of the SS's driver environment
• Contrasting interior colors, including Ebony, Victory Red and Light Grey, contribute to the sporty look and are offered in SS-only combinations, with matched door panel inserts; the rear seats (HHR SS only) are trimmed to match the front seats and feature enhanced bolster styling to also match the front seats

New for 2009 on the SS interior is a reconfigurable performance display. It allows the driver to select from a variety of performance measurements to be recorded and displayed on an LCD screen, including 0-60 mph and quarter-mile acceleration, braking performance and cornering grip (g load). The display is located on the A-pillar.

Well-equipped LS and LT models
HHR comes well equipped from the factory in three models: LS, LT and SS. The LT also comes in two packages - 1LT and 2LT. All HHR models include standard features such as air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, power outside mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless entry, StabiliTrak, ABS and full-function traction control.

All HHR sound systems, including the standard six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, feature an auxiliary channel and front-mounted auxiliary input jack, so that an iPod or other audio source can be played through the vehicle audio system. A powerful, seven-speaker, Pioneer 260-watt amplified premium audio system with subwoofer is standard on the 2LT model and available with other trims.

New for 2009 is an available USB-port radio. It includes the same features of the base radio, plus a USB port that enables an iPod or similar audio source to be connected and controlled via the radio or steering wheel controls. The device is also charged when it is plugged into the HHR's radio.

Additional product highlights include:

• Driver information center with oil life monitor
• Adjustable cargo configurations
• Available power sunroof with express open and close feature
• OnStar
• XM Satellite Radio
• 16.2-gallon fuel tank provides great cruising range
• New-for-2009 17-inch ChromeTech cast aluminum wheel on 2LT
• Factory-installed remote start is standard with automatic transmission

The 1LT model includes a standard eight-way power seat including power lumbar, body-color outside mirrors and 16-inch fascia-spoke wheels painted Sterling Silver. Bright chrome exterior trim and a bright exhaust tip are available, as are 16-inch chrome wheels.

HHR 2LT comes with the larger 2.4L Ecotec engine and FE3 sport suspension with StabiliTrak. Additional standard features include ABS, fog lamps, bright exhaust tip, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, the 260-watt Pioneer sound system with subwoofer and bright chrome exterior trim. Heated leather seats (with two heating levels) are available on both LT packages.

Other details shared among HHR models include a sporty three-spoke steering wheel and chrome accents on the instrument panel.

Cargo capability
Complementing the HHR's comfortable and expressive interior is a highly adaptable cargo system, which maximizes storage capability with a host of clever and useful configuration options, including:

• Auxiliary glove box with flip-up cover is located at the top center of the instrument panel for convenient storage of MP3s, cell phones, sunglasses and other smaller items.
• The front passenger seat folds fully flat, extending the total load length from the liftgate to the instrument panel - allowing 8-foot items, such as a ladder - to be carried with the liftgate closed.
• The front center armrest is integrated into the seat back frame, so it is out of the way when pivoted into a stowed position; a characteristic of trucks and SUVs.
• The rear seats feature a 60/40-split design and fold to form a continuous flat load surface in conjunction with the folded front passenger seat. The 60-percent folding side was thoughtfully positioned on the passenger side, enabling wider objects to be positioned diagonally and carried more securely in the vehicle.

The cargo area in the rear also is thoughtfully designed:

• It provides a continuous flat load floor when the rear seats are folded down.
• The primary load floor can become a shelf when raised and mounted. approximately 1 foot higher - the shelf can be mounted level or at a 45-degree angle to provide quick access to the cargo beneath it when the liftgate is opened.
• A 5-inch-deep recessed bin below the load floor can conceal 2.8 cubic feet (79.6 L); the spare tire is located beneath the bin.
• Two storage bins (0.5 cubic foot / 12.9 L total) are found forward of the load floor, nestled behind the rear seat, and plastic bag holders are conveniently located under the cargo shelf.
• It comes with a carpeted cargo mat.
• The rear liftgate is activated via touchpad for ease of opening

HHR Panel utility
The body of the HHR Panel features steel inserts in place of side windows and cargo doors in place of conventional rear doors. The cargo doors open wide to enable cargo access from both sides of the vehicle, as well as from the rear liftgate. The cargo doors don't have external handles; they are opened via a dashboard release button or the remote keyless entry fob. The large, continuous area created by the windowless cargo doors and rear panels is ideal for business logos, advertising or personalization.

An auxiliary power outlet is standard in the rear of the cargo area, as well as a 40-amp auxiliary power connector to provide service for a variety of specialty equipment needs. This also answers the call of upfitters, who asked for an additional power source to suit their specialty vehicles.

Inside, the HHR Panel has seating for two and a large, flat cargo floor. Tie-down points are located strategically on the floor and the available, robust floor mats enable easier movement of cargo. Two large, lockable storage compartments are located under the cargo floor - in the approximate place of the rear seats of passenger models. The compartments are secure and large enough to hold small computer equipment, flashlights, service manuals and other valuable equipment that is more secure when hidden.

The HHR Panel has a flat load floor that provides more than 57 cubic feet (1,614 L) of cargo space, along with approximately 5 cubic feet (141 L) of covered, under-floor storage.

Ecotec engines
The HHR lineup is powered by a family of technologically sophisticated, inline four-cylinder Ecotec engines that balance usable power with fuel and emissions efficiency. The standard engine for LS and 1LT models is the Ecotec 2.2L engine that receives variable valve timing technology for '09. The Ecotec 2.4L four-cylinder is available on the 1LT and standard on the 2LT. The SS models feature a 2.0L turbocharged and intercooled engine with direct injection technology.

The 2.2L engine is rated at 155 horsepower (116 kW)• and 150 lb.-ft. (203 Nm)• of torque and the 2.4L engine is rated at 172 horsepower (128 kW)• and 167 lb.-ft. of torque (226 Nm)•. The 2.0L turbo engine delivers 260 horsepower (194 kW) and 260 lb.-ft. of torque (353 Nm) with the standard five-speed manual transmission. It is rated at 250 horsepower (186 kW) with an available automatic transmission.

2.0L Ecotec DI turbocharged engine details
The HHR SS and HHR Panel SS's Ecotec 2.0L turbo engine produces 2.1 horsepower per cubic inch of displacement (130 hp / 97 kW per liter) and is the most powerful engine in the Ecotec family. Gasoline direct-injection technology helps it produce more power while maintaining the lower fuel consumption of a small displacement port-injected engine. A unique cylinder head and intake manifold support the efficient fuel system.

Components including a steel crankshaft and forged connecting rods are high-strength items that provide strength and enhance durability in the 2.0L engine. Oil-spray piston cooling helps reduce cylinder temperatures and promotes longevity by delivering pressurized oil that continuously lubricates the pistons, which reduces friction. To enhance combustion, the piston tops feature a dish shape that deflects incoming fuel toward the spark plugs. Mobil 1 synthetic oil is installed at the factory; it was selected for its friction-reducing capabilities and high-temperature performance.

Pumping up the HHR SS's 2.0L Ecotec engine is an intercooled turbocharger system. The turbo blows pressurized air into the combustion chambers to enhance horsepower and torque, while the system's intercooler circuit cools the turbocharged air charge to maximize its effect. The turbocharger is sized to deliver a significant horsepower boost and almost no spool-up lag. Maximum pressure is almost 20 psi.

Because the pressurized air pushed by a turbocharger becomes heated, the HHR SS's system employs an air-to-air intercooling system. With it, the pressurized air passes through a heat exchanger mounted behind the grille in the lower front fascia, where it is cooled before it enters the engine.

Transmissions
HHR transmissions include a standard F23 five-speed manual transmission on LS and LT models and a high-capacity F35 five-speed manual that is standard on SS models. The F23 and F35 transmission deliver smoothness and durability; and all gears, including reverse, feature synchronization.

A performance-oriented feature on the SS's F35 transmission called "no-lift shift" allows maximum performance with the manual transmission - upshifts can be performed very quickly without lifting the throttle. An algorithm in the engine's controller enables this high-performance feature, which helps maximize acceleration and gear changes.

SS models also include a short-throw shifter with stiffened shifter bushings. Modified cables and attachments enhances confidence behind the wheel, giving the driver a firmer, more direct and quicker shift feel. The manual shifter also is located higher than other HHR models, placing it in a more intuitive position for performance driving. An SS-specific center console is wrapped around the short-throw shifter. A limited-slip differential is offered with the available SS Performance Pacakage.

A Hydra-Matic 4T45 electronically controlled four-speed automatic is available on the LS, LT and SS. Calibration differences optimize the performance for all models - and all models, regardless of engine or transmission, are designed for flat towing.

Chassis and body structure
HHR is built on a robust, global small-car architecture. This lower-dominant structure is designed with strength in the lower portions of the chassis, contributing to an overall feeling of rigidity, effectively minimizing noise and vibration. The use of premium materials, such as Quiet Steel laminated panels in the plenum area, further enhances the vehicle's overall quietness.

Extensive use of high-strength steel and ultra-high-strength steel in key structural components, including the rocker panels and cross-vehicle reinforcing beam, bolsters the vehicle's rigid feel while providing additional side-impact support. The cockpit "safety cage" provides load-carrying protection and, along with laser-welded blanks used in the doorframes, front doors and rear doors, contributes to the HHR's NVH characteristics and build quality.

Suspension and brake systems for LS and LT models
A MacPherson strut front suspension design is used, along with a semi-independent, torsion beam rear suspension and five-lug wheels. Two suspension systems are available: FE1 suspension standard on LS and 1LT, with an FE3 suspension standard on the 2LT model. The FE1 suspension is tuned for a softer ride and includes 16-inch wheels, while the FE3 provides sportier handling traits and offers standard 17-inch wheels and monotube shocks, which enhance ride and handling.

All models are equipped with rack-and-pinion steering with electric power steering (EPS) - a speed-sensitive, variable-effort system with specific tuning calibrations to match the performance characteristics of each of the suspension settings. EPS eliminates the use of an engine-driven power steering pump, as well as the corresponding fluid reservoir and plumbing, reducing both fuel consumption and the potential source of an environmental contaminant.

Brakes consist of large front discs and rear drums, ABS and traction control standard on all models. Also standard is StabiliTrak, GM's advanced electronic stability control system. It assists the vehicle in maintaining the driver's intended path by applying a brake force at any corner of the vehicle independent of the driver's use of the brake pedal. StabiliTrak is integrated with the traction control and ABS brake systems .

SS suspension and brakes
Conveying the HHR SS and HHR Panel SS's turbocharged horsepower to the pavement is an FE5 sport suspension that includes a host of other chassis, steering and braking revisions - and a set of gorgeous 18-inch forged aluminum wheels. The elements pull together to give the vehicle surprisingly agile ride and handling characteristics, as well as an enviable maximum lateral acceleration rate of 0.86 g (with the manual transmission) - grip comparable to many sports cars on the market.

The MacPherson strut independent front suspension uses SS-specific gas-charged twin-tube struts, unique steering knuckles with optimized geometry, 28 N/mm linear coil springs with specific damper tuning, stiffer control arm handling and stabilizer bar bushings, and a direct-acting, 23-mm solid stabilizer bar. At the rear, the SS's semi-trailing twist beam axle uses monotube gas-charged shocks with specific damper tuning, a 24-mm solid stabilizer bar, stiffer axle bushings and multi-rate coil springs (30-40 N/mm). StabiliTrak electronic stability control and traction control are standard.

A unique electric power steering (EPS) system is tuned to match the SS's handling prowess. The rack-and-pinion gear has a quick 14.8:1 ratio, which is 20-percent quicker than other HHR models, and the new EPS provides improved precision and a more viscous feel. A smaller-diameter steering wheel enhances the quick, sporty steering capability.

Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard. They consist of 11.65-inch-diameter (296 mm) front vented rotors with 54-mm single-piston calipers in the front and 9.84-inch-diameter (270 mm) rear solid discs with 38-mm single-piston calipers. The standard anti-lock brakes are connected to the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system to enhance stopping and handling in emergency driving situations.

A new SS Performance Package features Brembo four-piston front brake calipers as well as a limited-slip differential.

The disc brakes are visible behind one of the HHR SS's most distinguishing features: a set of 18-inch polished forged aluminum wheels. The wheels have a Corvette-inspired split-spoke design and ride on SS-specific Michelin Pilot Sport performance tires that are rated for all-season driving.

Safety
HHR is designed to protect occupants in the event of a crash - a design that helped garner a five-star crash safety rating for both frontal crashes (driver and right-front passenger) and side crashes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's New Car Assessment Program tests. Standard safety features include dual-stage frontal air bags with GM's Passenger Sensing System. This system works with the front passenger seat and differentiates between adults - 5 th percentile females and larger - and small children or child seats to adjust air bag deployment.

Additionally, HHR has front safety belt pretensioners, rear-seat center lap-shoulder safety belts and the LATCH child seat retention system. Roof rail head curtain side-impact air bags for front- and rear-seat outboard occupants are standard on all models.

OnStar
OnStar is standard on all models and features enhanced hands-free voice recognition capabilities, including more intuitive continuous digit dialing and improved voice recognition accuracy (with digital service). OnStar is the leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services in the United States and Canada. Using the GPS satellite network and wireless technology, OnStar features core safety services and OnStar Hands-Free Calling that allows drivers to make and receive voice-activated phone calls using an externally mounted antenna for greater reception.

The OnStar service includes the Advanced Crash Response System, making crash data available to the participating 911 centers to help them dispatch the appropriate live-saving personnel and equipment to crash scenes faster.

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