RV News and Reviews

Main Site : RV Boondocking News Home : February 2010

February 6, 2010 12:19 - The Chevrolet HHR at First Blush

Let me say right off, that I've not been a fan of Chevrolet, or General Motors for quite some lil' while... So... I wasn't real confident when we Picked up a Chevrolet HHR from the Enterprise Car Rental office...

My first Chevy all those years ago, pretty fresh out of the Army, was a used '69 Chevy Half-ton I hot rodded...

... and a fine Hot Rod it was! :-)

The next was an 80's model 3/4T that couldn't keep a transmission in it to save my liver...

... took me some lil' while to figure out that the transmission that 80's model Chevy 3/4 ton had in it, was the same automatic transmission they put in a Cammaro! ... uh... that was the last Chevy I ran!... :-)

So... I tell you that just to put this review into context... I went in, pretty much with a negative prejudice.

We rented this lil' Chevrolet HHR for a business trip from Fort Collins to Tucson... Our Ol' Subaru has too many miles on it to give me sufficient confidence for a long, mid winter run through the snowy west.

Chevrolet HHR

Right off, rolling it home, the night before we left, I was pleasantly surprised by the apparent performance of the car. When it was the only thing available at the rental office, I figured it would likely be a pretty gutless car... and make for a long trip...

... and the way it looked... like a Chevrolet Knock off of a PT Cruiser... which I'd 'heard' is kinda cramped and uncomfortable... I was thinkin' that things didn't bode well for this trip... Though... I do tend to like the 'Retro' look they're producing in a few cars coming out of Detroit the past couple years...

Wrong!... on Both Counts... When I stomped on it, running down the on ramp to climb onto the Interstate... It took off running! That lil' Red Chevrolet HHR, had no trouble at all hitting the mid 70's to blend into traffic... Not bad!

So then... I figured... Ok... If it DOES have decent performance... It'll be burning fuel to get it... Well... wrong again!

Surprised me again to see the computer claiming 27 mpg as I rolled along at 80mph... Hmmm... I was pleasantly surprised... Maybe this trip won't be so long after all!

Well... Wrong again! :-)

We left out of Fort Collins the next evening 'bout 6 pm. and headed south... and right into a winter storm, just north of Pueblo... which quickly and steadily got worse as we rolled south.

My wife had been driving, and as soon as the weather turned I took over... by the time we got to Raton Pass the road had turned to solid snow pack and ice... with max speed an average of 43 mph...

Busses, cars and trucks were slid off into the median and roadsides... That lil' Chevrolet HHR... slipped a tire maybe twice... at least the Traction Control system said it did... I didn't know a thing 'bout it... that lil' car just went right down the road steady, and solid feeling... Nary a problem...

Chevrolet HHR on a Slippery, Snowy Night

Running through the snowy night, it averaged right on 33 mpg...

A trip that usually takes us maybe 13 or 14 hours... stetched out to 19 hours this trip... and Identified another Good thing 'bout this lil' car... at least from this Ol' Cowboy's perspective...

Spend that much time with my butt on the seat of one of my Beloved Dodge Cummins Trucks and I'd be squrimming like a can of fishin' worms... and I LOVE my Cummins! But a good seat they... ain't got! Heidi has always cursed the seats in our trucks... The seat in this Chevrolet HHR however... got noticed... and appreciated.

After spending 19 hours on it... we were - both - Comfortable... It's not plush or fancy... but whatever it is... at least for me (disabled Vet - busted spine) and my lady... both Dodge and Subaru seats make her back ache after a ride of several hours... We were tired after our long ride... but we were... Comfortable!

Finally, 'bout 10 miles north of Albuquerque, we broke out of the snowpack and were able to twist that throttle a bit more and start moving south at Interstate speeds... or around 80mph.

Pulling into Tucson, a touch over 1000 miles from home we had averaged right at 32 miles a gallon... I kept checking the Driver Information screens... It tells you either your averaged fuel consumption or your "instant"... I'd thought it would really fall off when our speed kicked up from 45 to 80... and that just didn't happen...

As long as it was moving steady on even ground... not climbing or accellerating... it held between 25 and 35 mpg... Hold the speed down and it would do better of course... but all in all, it did remarkably, and acceptably well for the car it is...

We had two big Australian Shepherds with us, our luggage, and two collapsible crates for the dogs in the back end... We and the dogs just weren't cramped... even when we pulled into a snowy, semi truck plugged, roadside rest about 1:30 in the morning for an hour and a half nap.

We kicked the seats back... and with the car idling to keep us from feezing in the 25 degree weather... took a much needed nap before continuing the long journey south.

Something that will take getting used to, for me, is the windshield wiper control... :-) I guess it seems 'backward' to me... every time I tried to increase or decrease the 'speed'... I seemed to do the opposite... apparently, all the cars I've driven lately have the control direction opposite to how it works in this car... not a deal breaker. :-)

Heidi really likes the lil' storage compartment in the center of the top of the dash... The car has little touches like that here and there... Even the Head rests... actually... let me rest my head! When I'm sitting in the passenger seat... I can put my head on the rest without having to tilt it back till my neck feels like it's gonna snap! :-)

One other thing that got my attention, and that I want to mention, was the ease of getting in and out of this lil' car.

When I climb in or out of Heidi's Subaru... it's a bit of a struggle... I gotta try and bend to fit my lil' butt through the door, with out hitting my head... and I'm a bit of a runt!... Then... You sit so low in it... it's just kind of awkward, to my mind... for a stove up Ol' buster like me, to get in and out... Makes me wonder what an ordeal a stove up... BIG guy has to go through! :-)

This Chevy HHR on the other hand... just put your feet on the ground... and stand up... or sit down... No ducking... No gymnastics... Uh... Like... Uh... No stuggle... Cool! :-)

So... at first blush... as a likely prospect for an RV Toad... this Little Red Chevrolet HHR is worthy of bein' put on your list of possible cars to check out.

Motohome magazine has it listed as towable 4 down with "certain conditions"... with its' interior cargo capacity, passenger comfort, easy, all weather handling and its' good performance... I'd mark it high on my list of possibles...

I'll extend this review after we drive it another several days... and make the return trip home...

Bottom line? A guy who'd been feeling pretty sour towards Chevrolet and General Motors... is, so far, fairly well impressed by the Chevrolet HHR... If you're shopping for Toads... take a look at this lil' car... you may find yourself impressed too...

Check back for the "Rest of the Story"... as soon as we Drive our way through it!

Take Good Care

Return to the Home page of goin' RV Boondocking
Visit our sister site Motorcycle Touring on Freedom Road

Have a hankering to tell your own story?... Great! tell it here!
... Your RV Destinations
... Your Custom RV
... Reader's RVing Tips
... Reader's RV Recreation Activities

February 8, 2010 09:18 - Cummins Keeps on Keepin' Up

The Feds keep on imposing new and more stringent emissions standards... all the manufacturers have to keep their engineers workin' hard to keep up... I'm not totally sold on it all... but it's good to know that the engine builders are workin' as hard as they are to meet the regulations...

If you follow this link it will take you to an article ... which is a news release from Cummins I guess... but it'll let you know all they're doin' with their Diesel engines for everything from pickup truck fifth wheel tow vehicles and RV Motor Home diesel engines to the big Class 8 trucks...

February 14, 2010 09:37 - The Chevrolet HHR my Closing Opinion

OK... GM built a good car when they put out the Chevrolet HHR.

Coming back North from Tucson, through the mountains of North Central Arizona, splitting the wind across I-40 at Interstate speeds, that lil' car just rolled along at 33+ mpg average, quiet, and comfortable.

We'd added probably 100 pounds of cargo in Tucson and our average speed was considerably higher on the return trip, so the fact that we had even better fuel economy was impressive.

Considering the fact that the base price for the car is just a bit over $18,000 and you don't have to replace a huge battery at the cost of a couple thousand dollars every 4 years or so... the couple miles of added fuel economy you get from any of the hybrid cars, makes no economic sense... at least the way I add things up. When you factor in the additional mining and such required for all those batteries... I have difficutly believing they carry any true environemtal benefits either... Can you guess I'm not a fan of Hybrids?

I think they're basically an 'emotional' response... that doesn't hold up under pragmatic scrutiny. I for one will stick (when I can) with a standard car that is well built and acceptably efficient... Hell... my '06 Cummins could break 25 miles per gallon, and often 30, weighing 9000 lbs plus!... if I kept the speed down on 'flat land'... something I've demonstrated over and over again to 'non-believers'...

It just seems to me that something as small and light as those 'hybrids' should be able to do one hell of a lot better...

The comfort of the seats proved out over the whole trip... Long hours, going both ways were as comfortable in the Chevrolet HHR as I could have asked for... and better than I expected.

With the back seat layed flat, the Load of Beads Heidi bought for her store, were compressed into the "Under Floor" compartment at the rear... Just above the spare tire... leaving the rest open for our luggage... with plenty of space left for the Dogs (Two 40+ lb Australian Shepherds) to travel in comfort as well.

The quiet of the car allowed for me to hear, (with artillery damaged ears!) our Ipods, through the stereo, without any of the annoying wind noise of our old subaru... Just plug and play... Sweet!

There are always negatives and there are a couple on this Little Chevrolet HHR too I guess... though they are pretty minor...

At one point a notice came across the "Driver Information Center" in the dash... I hadn't seen it... and questioned her vision when Heidi said it had read; "Icy road Possible"... or some such... My skepticism made for a bit of an animated "conversation" :-) for a while...

That and the fact that the temperature was well over 40 degrees had me skeptical... but when it gave ME the same message, some time later, when I was driving... well... I hate it when I have to eat crow! :-) so... that part of the "system" doesn't appear to be entirely accurate. :-)

The only other "Negative" that I can truly think of is the "Drink Cups" in the center, floor, console... The space between the seats is pretty narrow, and with the arm rests down, those cup holders are pretty inconveniently placed.

Like I said... pretty minor.

All in all... after 3000 miles plus of driving... I can say, I wouldn't mind having one parked out in the driveway... My only problem with it is... it won't tow a trailer! :-)

But, according to the Motorhome Magazine Toad Guide... the Chevrolet HHR can be towed, four wheels down, if you keep it 65 mph or under... and I believe there is a fuse you need to remove to kill some specific power circuit...

You'll find that in the owners manual... which you need to adhere to anyway, to maintain all your warranties!

Bottom line?... The Chevrolet HHR is a reasonably priced, comfortable, ecomomical, fun to drive option, with pretty good utility if you carry dogs with you... or need a good car to haul your Kayaks... or your Mountain Bikes! So if you're looking for a TOAD... If Retro Styling is something that Toots your whistle... this lil' car is gonna honk your horn!

Take Good Care

Have a hankering to tell your own story?... Great! tell it here!
... Your RV Destinations
... Your Custom RV
... Reader's RVing Tips
... Reader's RV Recreation Activities

January 2010 «  » March 2010


RSS Feed For This News


RV Boondocking News Home | Archives