Mother Proof

The 2006 Chevrolet HHR

by Kristin Varela

This month MetroKids introduces Mother Proof, providing useful and entertaining new car reviews. Founder Kristin Varela and her cohorts’ innovative critiques are straightforward and casual, written from one woman to another. As women and mothers, the Mother Proof mom-reviewers represent the fastest growing segment of automotive consumers. Women purchase 52.5 percent of new cars and influence 85 percent of all car sales. This month, Varela reviews the Chevrolet HHR.

During my first outing in the 2006 Chevy HHR, a car pulls up next to me and signals me to roll down my window. “What’s that car you’re driving?” shouts the mom over her thoroughly embarrassed teenage daughter. “It’s really cute!”

What a great way to start a test drive. I like driving cute cars. This car looks a bit retro, a bit futuristic, a bit…different.
I use the term “car” loosely, because I can’t quite seem to categorize this vehicle. The price sheet that comes with my test car calls it a sedan. In my opinion it’s anything but, with a roomy interior, upright seating and easy access to cargo space large enough for my kids’ wagon. That sounds more like an SUV.

It’s definitely not an SUV, however, with fuel mileage as high as 30 miles per gallon, a car-like ride and a step-in height with a running board that’s manageable even for my 3 year-old. No matter what it’s called, it’s a fun vehicle to tool around in.

Notable Features
Although manual transmission is standard (what do you want for $16K?), this manual is smooth enough to let sleeping babies sleep. There will be no sleeping, however, in my test vehicle as we’re busy rocking out to the XM Satellite Radio. I’m a bit concerned for my sanity as I find myself just as thrilled as the kids when Radio Disney plays “The Crazy Frog,” “The Hamster Dance” and “Hillary Dillary Duff.”

The perfectly sized cargo area expands quickly with seats that fold flat, making room for “groceries to surfboards,” as stated by General Motors. Does it come with a sitter, too? An auxiliary glove box located on the top, center of the dashboard is a great place to stash random stuff that always migrates to the car. This is completely necessary as the HHR lacks a center console.

In spite of the flexibility this car offers, there are a few downers, the first being that the cup holders in the front are way down low next to the parking brake. It’s not easy to reach my precious tall, two pump, extra hot chai, and the parking brake dangerously skims my cup’s lid. I’m warning you, don’t mess with my chai!

Although the HHR is fun to drive, it’s not going to win the rat race in the near future. The 4-cylinder engine takes its sweet time accelerating to highway speeds. This may not be a bad thing, however as it keeps me from exceeding the speed limit (which I never, ever do anyhow).

Although my children and I feel quite at home in the HHR and like the general bone structure of the vehicle, my husband feels “caved in” and thinks it’s “ergonomically weird.” It fits me perfectly, and I’m gently reminded that if it fits me, it probably doesn’t fit the other 90 percent of the population, being that I’m a bit short on height.

If you’re interested in something to break the mom-mobile monotony of minivans, judge for yourself. Load up the kids and go test drive the HHR. It’ll be fun. You can use it as an excuse to skip story time at the library.

Let’s Talk Numbers
LATCH Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5

It’s the Little Things
(Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore)
Storage Compartments: Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space: Ample

Sense and Style
(Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent)
Family Friendly: Great
Fun-Factor: Great

Base Price: $16,425
Price as Tested: $20,900
Engine: 2.4 liter, 4 cylinder
Fuel Economy: 22/30 MPG
Length: 176.2”
Width: 69.2”
Step-in Height: 6.3” ground clearance
Turning Diameter: 36’
Cargo Space: 55.6 cu ft
NHTSA Crash Test Ratings: To Be Rated

The full archive of Mother Proof reviews is available at