This car is funky looking. However, that funkiness with the thick pillars and little windows results in poor visibility. I've gotten used to it since I got the car, but I often have to crane my neck to see traffic lights.
The interior is really plasticy, but I was expecting this. It's not a luxury car. When I have the stereo up all the way, sometimes I hear a buzz from an unidentified trim piece.
The window switches on the bottom of the centre stack are in an asinine position, and unlit. It's awkward to reach down there, especially at night.
There's that weird white LED in the headliner - I guess this is to illuminate the centre stack and compensate for the unlit window switches. It seems kind of kludgy to me.
The transmission is reluctant to downshift when I'm trying to merge onto a freeway or pass somebody on a rural road. I feel like peak torque comes up around 4000rpm, and the transmission always wants to keep the engine below 3000 unless I floor it.
It feels really lightweight - wind wander is a problem, and panels are easily dented.
But I can live with all these faults. The car provides more than adequate performance, great cargo space, and good fuel economy (26-29mpg / 9L/100km combined city/highway with roof rack crossbars, and I certainly don't drive for economy). It's my first car of my own and while I'm a huge fan of other cars (BMW 3 series E46 coupes!) I plan on driving this car to at least 150,000 miles.
There are a million other HHRs on the road where I live in Michigan, but I still smile every time I see one, especially if it's a SS or a Panel. There's just something about the design. While the HHR may not be a great car in performance or quality metrics, it is competent, and undeniably has character, something that is lacking in the average econobox.