Best Car for a Family Road Trip that I’ve Ever Owned

Having just purchased our 2009 Chevy HHR, we were getting a little antsy to put it to the test. Sure, we had driven it all over creation around town, made a few two hour shopping trips and even took it fishing. But, we really wanted to see how she would do on a road trip. It was probably this energy, combined with the high of the new-ish car smell that led to our impulsive decision one crazy Saturday evening. You see, it was raining. It had been raining for days. We could see the sunshine in the distance, but it was just out of our reach. We decided to head toward the sunshine in hopes that things might clear up a bit. We stopped for lunch in a nearby town where it was still gray but at least not raining. Then, back into the HHR, we continued our quest for the sun. We didn’t know where we were going; we weren’t even sure how we had ended up where we were. We just kept driving — and ended up eight hours from home, deep in the Smokey Mountains, with nothing but the cash in our pockets and the clothes on our backs.
This may seem more than a bit impulsive for a family of four to do and I agree that it was. But it was the car’s fault. It wanted to go on a road trip, the very thing it was made for, and it just took us along for the ride.

Driving on a dime — well, almost. In a time when gas prices are enough to make a grown gal cry, my HHR is doing its best to ease the pain. It gets an estimated 32 mpg, according to Chevy’s official website, and I have found this to be true in my own experience. What is even better is that the HHR is equipped to use E85 flex-fuel. This drops the price of filling the tank to $1 less per gallon in my area. I lose about 1-2 miles to the gallon but gain miles per dollar.

Room for the crew. The interior of the HHR is roomy front-to-back. With two pre-teen boys in the back seat, I needed something with plenty of leg and elbow room. The eight hour trip was a true testament of the HHR’s travel friendly status. We had very few arguments coming from back there and only one “He’s touching me.” I was one happy mamma. The cargo space is the stuff dreams are made of. It has 63.1 cubic feet, according to This is made up of move-able, removable, stack-able and slide-able bins and shelves that we have been using to haul everything from groceries to trees, coolers to the catch of the day. It is made from plastic that allows easy clean-up and keeps me from worrying about spilled milk or muddy fishing boots.

Road trip soundtrack. The HHR has a nifty radio that allows up to six “favorites” bars. No more growling when my hubby saves over one of my stored stations. He has his own tab of stations now. They are easily accessed with a single button on the dash and can be controlled from the steering wheel for safer station switching. We used one of the unused bars to find stations with “happy” road tunes. And the interior keeps things so quiet, we were undisturbed by the noise outside. When things got a little louder on the interstate, the HHR adjusted the stereo volume for our speed. We simply turned this feature off when we arrived home.

It’s a sunshiny day, outside and inside the HHR. This car has a lot of windows! I like to think of it as long and leggy because it seems to stretch out to almost SUV proportions. According to Chevy, it was designed after the ’49 Chevy Suburban. Oddly enough, we saw our car’s “grandpa” driving down the interstate while on our trip. What this means for me, is that everyone has a good view of the road and all the scenery. This is true even for our little guy, who is a tad shorter than he would like to be. On a side note, it also features a small running board that allows my toddler nephew to get in and out on his own. Anyone with toddlers will be grateful for this little extra.

The trip was a complete success and left us excited and confident with our choice to purchase the HHR. We paid $15,500 for ours but a web search will find them in the range of $15,000-$17,000. We are already planning our next trip. It was nice to let the car talk us into an adventure, but I think next time, I’d like to at least pack clothes.