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HAVE IT YOUR WAY

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Sep 23, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

HAVE IT YOUR WAY By Harvey Schwartz

Even though the HHR debuted in 2006 with four doors, four side windows and sold some 101,000 units, Chevy designers already had the panel model with filled-in windows and shaved door handles on the side doors ready to market for 2007. Keeping the good vibrations going is the all-new 2007 HHR Panel that is a blank canvas for enthusiasts who want to personalize their HHR with custom paint or graphics. This outstanding, two-seat, small retro-modern panel truck can also be used for commercial purposes by businesses that don't need the larger size of a full-size van or even a mini-van. The HHR panel is the perfect small work vehicle. Bought for either personal or commercial use, you can customize the HHR Panel on the outside or inside to suit your needs.

The unique good looks of this vehicle are augmented with convenience and versatility. Both of the side doors pop-open with a push of a button located on the dashboard. The driver's side has two buttons and the passenger-side has one button to open the door right behind. Chevy put in a 'fail safe' system so you can't open these doors unless the transmission is in Park. This makes loading and unloading smaller items easy. The front seat-back folds flat to increase the length of stored items that can easily be loaded or unloaded from the rear liftgate. The cargo area also features a stain resistant flat load floor, ten cargo tie-downs, three-under floor storage bins with two that lock, cargo lamps, rear 40-amp auxiliary power connector, and a rear cargo area power outlet. The thick, optional two-piece rubber mats keep flat cargo from moving around, while roof rails make carrying cargo up top easy and safe. I tested the all-new HHR Panel at the 2007 Major League Baseball All-Star game in San Francisco, and as the official brand of Major League Baseball, this HHR Panel is all dressed-up with Major League Baseball and All-Star Game graphics. Many PT Cruiser enthusiasts were disappointed with Chrysler for not offering a panel model, only a convertible off-shoot, but Chevy has stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with the HHR Panel.

The HHR Panel LT that I tested comes with the following standard equipment that is also found in the regular HHR LT model: a 175-horsepower 2.4-liter Ecotec DOHC engine, a five-speed manual front-wheel-drive transmission, speed sensitive electric rack & pinion power steering, sport-tuned suspension, and power assisted front disc brakes with drum brakes in the rear. The HHR LT rides on 17 x 7-inch aluminum wheels wrapped with 215/50R17 all-season radial tires. Also standard are power outside mirrors, intermittent windshield wipers/washers, and a rear wiper/washer. The interior features AC/heater with air filtration system, AM-FM/CD player with MP3 player and auxiliary input jack, eight-way power-adjustable driver seat with lumbar adjustments, floor console with three cupholders and dual power outlets, easy to see speedometer, tachometer and Driver Information Center, tilt steering wheel, power windows/door locks, remote keyless entry/lock, rear window defroster, floor mats, auxiliary glove box on the dashboard shelf, and map lamps.

Standard safety system include dual frontal airbags with passenger sensing system, theft deterrent system, three-point safety belts with pretensioners, height-adjustable safety belt anchors, front/rear crush zones and steel impact beams in each door. My HHR Panel LT came with the following options to make the ride even more pleasurable: a four-speed automatic transmission, head curtain side airbags, ABS, traction control, leather bucket seats, leather wrapped/tilting steering wheel with radio/cruise-control buttons, leather wrapped shift knob, heated seats, fog lamps, running boards, 17-inch polished aluminum wheels, bright chrome grille, chrome side mirror housing, bright chrome liftgate appliqué, bright chrome door handles, bright chrome roof rails, auto dimming rearview mirror with compass, and a premium audio system with seven high performance Pioneer speakers including an eight-inch subwoofer.

Chevy has filled a niche by introducing the HHR Panel model. Enthusiasts and business owners wanting that smooth panel truck style can go straight to their Chevy dealer. © Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz SUMMARY JUDGMENT It's a tasty little junior whopper. For more information about Chevrolet products, go to chevrolet.com More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2007 Chevrolet HHR Panel Price: $18,005.00 base LT, $24,144.00 LT as tested Horsepower: 175 at 6,200 rpm Torque: 165 at 5,000 rpm EPA mileage: 23mpg/city, 30mpg/highway Drive configuration: Front engine/front-wheel-drive Transmission type: Five-speed manual standard, four-speed automatic optional Front suspension: Independent sport tuned coil springs, gas-charged, stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Semi-independent with torsion bars, stabilizer bar Wheels and tires: 17X7 polished aluminum wheels, 215/50R17 all-season radial tires Brakes: Front: 11.5-inch vented discs with dual-piston calipers Rear: 9.5-inch drum ABS standard in LT, optional in LS Overall length: 167.2 inches Overall height: 63.1 inches Overall width: 69.1 inches Curb weight: 3,208 pounds

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