2009 Chevrolet HHR 2LT

Posted: March 7, 2012 in Crate Arrangements, Vehicle Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

Our first guest review (and great pictures!) comes from Leah Petesch in Iowa. Leah has several dobes, a corgi, and a Mexican street dog, volunteers with Illinois Doberman Rescue Plus, and runs the A Prairie Dobe Companion blog (http://www.prairiedobecompanion.com/)!

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I’ve had my HHR for roughly three years, putting over 60,000 miles on it for dog-related activities.  It’s ideal for 1-2 people with 1-2 large dogs.

The HHR is an excellent option if you’re looking for an economical, domestic vehicle. I recommend the 2LT, as the more basic models are a bit underpowered. A 1-2 year old, low-mileage 2LT usually can be found for $11,000-$14,000. It gets an average of 28-32mpg, but I’ve seen it sit at 34-36mpg on long stretches of highway. (mpg seen with super unleaded, since we lucky Iowans get ethanol fuel subsidies!) It’s a small SUV that handles like a car. My only complaint is that the blind spots are in weird places, and take some getting used-to!

I usually keep the backseat folded down, to accommodate a 36″ wire crate and an equivalent-sized plastic crate. The rear seats fold FLAT – which automatically makes it more functional than its larger ‘brother’ – the Chevrolet Equinox. (I drove an Equinox for a week after I hit a deer with the HHR… let me tell you, it was awful.  I was only able to fit one crate in the darn thing due to the rear seats not folding flat.)

The HHR’s hatch opening is too small for an assembled 36″ wire crate to be slid in, so the crate has to be folded out after it is placed in the cargo area. A soft crate can easily be slid in and popped up after you’ve got the wire crate in – I can set up a soft crate in the empty space in a matter of seconds.  A plastic crate is more difficult, but it can be done – just slide the bottom section in first, then slide the top section through the front passenger door, up over the front-seat headrests, and onto the bottom crate section. Trust me… DO NOT put in a plastic crate as your 2nd crate unless you don’t plan on removing it very often!

The HHR has several convenient cargo tie-downs built into the frame, so securing crates is quick and easy.  The interior surfaces are plastic, so clean-up is a breeze.

I have done several long trips with 2 adults and 2 large dogs. My advice for packing is to pack several small bags – they are easier to stuff into the nooks and crannies of available space.  (Yes, it’ll look like a clown car – get used to it.)  Above the crates there is enough room to slide an additional 42″ broken-down soft crate. In the back, there is a 12″D x 39″W x 29″H open pocket of space. On the side (behind the crate in front) there is a 11″D x 29″W x 29″H open pocket of space. Of course, there are also roomy rear footwells to shove extra gear, as well as the deep rear window-wells in back.

All in all, the Chevrolet HHR is a great “starter” dog-hauler.

View from the rear hatch, with a 36″ wire crate w/side door and a 36″ soft crate

Convenient tie-downs

View of the “empty pocket of space” near the hatch, and the deep window-wells

View from a back door, of the 36″ soft crate

View from a back door, of a 400 vari-kennel (equivalent)

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Comments
  1. Beth B says:

    Could the 36″ wire crate fit behind the drivers seat (where you have the soft crate or varikennel? I’m thinking of the large wire crate in front, with the two smaller ones side by side in the back part.

    Thanks for any info!

  2. I asked Leah and she said that she suspects that the 36″ wire would fit behind the seats, though she hasn’t tried it, and any smaller crates in the back would have to be significantly smaller to fit two across.

    If I were you, I’d bring the crates you’d like to fit in your next vehicle with you to a dealership to check in person.

  3. Beth B says:

    Thanks for the quick reply! I’m hoping to check one out this week to see if my crates fit. The smaller ones are 24″, the bigger one is a 36″.

    I like the blog, looking forward to seeing more reviews done!

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