OK so about two weeks ago I was running to the grocery store at lunch to pick up some snacks and paper towels and a salad. On my way there, some old dude RAN INTO ME. I mean, my car, not me personally, but you know. He hit my beautiful, wonderful xB! I love that car so much. It’s so cute, and so roomy and comfortable inside, and so well made, and so reliable, and gets great mileage, and it was cheap. I mean, what’s not to love? Here’s a picture (not my actual car, but a facsimile):
Look at it! It’s so beautiful.
So, anyway. This guy sideswiped me (front passenger side door) and it was totally his fault, which thankfully he admitted, and therefore his insurance is paying for the repairs and a rental. So I took the car in on Tuesday to the body shop, and they’re going to have it until next Friday at least. So in the mean time, the rental company gave me what I can only describe as the most miserable, non-user-friendly, uncomfortable, fugly car I have ever had the misfortune to drive: a Chevy HHR. Here’s what THAT piece of crap looks like:
Yeah, it’s awful. I think this car perfectly illustrates what American car makers DON’T GET about cars and people, that Japanese car makers DO get: the experience matters.
I mean, both cars are about the same size, and get similar mileage, but that’s where the similarities end. Here’s a list of all the things I have quickly grown to hate about the HHR:
1. Sitting in it is like sitting in a WWII bunker, like those cement things the Germans were sitting in when we stormed Normandy Beach on D-Day, and driving it is like being in a tunnel that never ends. You can’t see anything. The windshield is abnormally small, and the front pillars and roof obscure much of the view. I get claustrophobic if I have to sit in it for too long, no kidding.
2. Mechanically it feels cheap and unfriendly. The steering is so stiff it feels like it’s not even power steering. It would be hell on a long drive. And the accelerator is weird – you put the pedal down, and nothing happens for a few seconds. Acceleration, once it finally starts, is mushy. I’m not sure what kind of engine is in this thing but it’s definitely not very good.
3. The seats are very uncomfortable. Despite the electronic controls, there’s just no way to make them feel better. It doesn’t help that someone already broke the armrest on the driver’s side.
4. The interior layout is asinine. Everything is in a place that doesn’t make any sense. Like, there’s a lidded pop-open storage compartment in the middle of the dashboard, on top. WHY? Who puts a storage compartment where it’s going to further obscure the limited view when it’s open? And the cup holders are right next to the emergency break – I mean RIGHT next to it, so that if you had anything in them, and tried to engage the emergency brake, it would knock your beverages over.
5. It feels totally claustrophobic in the car. Some combination of the limited visibility, the uncomfortable seats, and the ridiculous equipment layout makes it feel like I’m in the worst car ever made.
I hate the Chevy HHR, and honestly, I think it hates me. I’ve already hit my head on the door, and getting in and out is like some kind of sideshow of the clumsy and graceless. The moral of this story is: don’t ever buy an HHR, and if they try to give you one when you need a rental, run away screaming.