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2009 Chevrolet Flex-Fuel HHR

2009 Chevrolet Flex-Fuel HHR

Chevy Flex Fuel HHR

Mercury Mariner Hybrid

Ford Escape Hybrid

Saturn VUE 2 Mode Hybrid

Mazda Tribute Hybrid

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz ML320 Bluetec

VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI Diesel


When Chevy rolled out its HHR four years ago, it seemed aimed at a nostalgia-minded crowd. Even the HHR designation, derived from "High Heritage Roof" recalling the original 1949 Chevy Suburban, begged for a trip back in time. Maybe it was imagining the crackling static of a radio filling hot summer nights with word pictures fanned by imagination when TV was still in its infancy. For the brazen, one could picture fleeing from a bank robbery with heart-pounding abandon (for a little mental anti-hero action fun, perhaps).

2009 Chevrolet Flex-Fuel HHR Interior
2009 Chevrolet Flex-Fuel HHR Interior

The 2009 Chevrolet HHR takes a 180-degree turn away from memory lane. Now it's becoming a staple of parent General Motors' contemporary efforts to squeeze out every ounce of fuel efficiency from a vehicle that can double as a cargo hauler, spacious ride for five with a lot of pazazz thrown in. HHR's new sport-tuned high-performance SS version underscores its serious fun status. To balance that off, the new flexible fuel version shows it still has a conscience in the process.

A year ago, flexible fuel vehicles capable of burning E85 — an 85 percent ethanol/15 percent gasoline mix — were just gaining attention. HHR, gasoline only at the time, still had one of the lighter "carbon footprints" among sporty, utility vehicles earning an impressive 22/30 miles per gallon for the front-drive version. That improved to 22/32 for 2009 with regular gasoline. Now, using E85, which delivers less power, results in fuel economy of 16/23.

Two inline four powerplants, the 2.2-liter and 2.4-liter versions, can have the flex fuel option. Base pricing starts at an affordable $17,370. There's no additional cost for the flex fuel capability, according to a Chevy spokesperson.

Several changes sharpen 2009 HHRs, including Bluetooth interface for phones, and enhanced audio with USB port and auxiliary input jack. XM Satellite radio connectivity is standard, as are roof rail side airbags, StabiliTrak, traction control and anti-lock brakes for five-star crash rated safety. Rear backup camera is optional.