An all-new model in 2006, the Chevrolet HHR gains a slight increase in torque and horsepower for 2007, along with new Imperial Blue Metallic exterior shade, and new Ebony interior colour.

The 2.2-litre engine now makes 149 hp and 152 lb-ft of torque to 2006’s 143 and 150 lb-ft, while the 2.4-litre makes 175 hp and 165 lb-ft, to 2006’s 172 hp and 162 lb-ft. As before, both four-cylinder Ecotec engines mate to a five-speed manual, which can be optioned to a four-speed automatic.

The HHR’s introduction in 2006 may have been questionable, given that it compared so obviously to Chrysler’s aging PT Cruiser, but GM knew what it was doing; sales proved to be strong, no doubt helped by the HHR meeting five-star frontal crash test standards with NHTSA. Based on the Chevrolet Cobalt platform, the HHR’s styling is meant to invoke the 1949 Suburban (HHR stands for “Heritage High Roof”).

The base LS model uses the 2.2-litre engine, and includes power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless remote, 60/40 folding rear seat, fold-flat passenger front seat, CD stereo with six speakers and front-mounted auxiliary jack for iPods or other audio sources, and 16-inch wheels.

The LT uses the 2.4-litre engine and adds a standard CD/MP3 player, eight-way power seat with power lumbar, satin chrome exterior appearance package, anti-lock brakes, bright exhaust tip, leather-wrapped wheel and shifter, sport suspension and bright chrome exterior trim.

Even a slight power increase is welcome in this heavy car, but combine the 2.2-litre with the automatic, and you’ve got a noisy powertrain that requires considerable throttle to get it up to cruising speed. The 2.4-litre is the better engine choice, especially when mated to the five-speed, where the driver can keep the engine speed at the optimum range. Premium fuel is recommended for the larger engine, although it isn’t required.

The interior is one of GM’s finest, with exceptional fit-and-finish and high-quality materials, and even the base model offers air conditioning and power accessories, which are extra-cost on many rivals. The seats are comfortable, and there’s a great deal of storage space, although the rear cargo tray can be annoyingly difficult to manoeuvre in and out of its slots. Still, this is a great amount of utility in a compact footprint.

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