Who says slow news days don't yield surprises Moments ago, we received the GM press materials announcing the all-new HHR Panel. At first, we assumed it was a SEMA thing, but lo and behold, this is an actual production car, and GM is to be commended. Unlike other panel concepts we've seen in the past, such as the Chrysler Panel Cruiser, the HHR Panel does not see the removal of its second set of doors.
Instead, the passenger doors are replaced by solid cargo doors that open via a dashboard release button. This provides easy access to the cargo area, which features a flat load floor and over 57 cubic feet of space. In addition to that, there's an additional 6 cubic feet of covered storage under the floor in the area where the rear seats would be on a regular HHR. Those compartments can be ordered with locks as an option.
As for the rest, there are two trim levels, LS and LT, and both come with the 2.2L Ecotec standard. The LT can be ordered with the 175-horsepower 2.4L Ecotec as well. Interior appointments mirror what you can have in the passenger HHR, so comfort items like power leather seats, MP3 compatibility and satellite radio are all available. You can even get it with a flashy set of 17" wheels -- a nod to the enthusiast/customizer niche Chevy's hoping to grab a piece of as well.
The HHR Panel should appeal to business owners as an economical, stylish delivery vehicle (both engines are good for 30 mpg on the highway).
This is a totally unexpected, completely pleasant surprise from the General. While DaimlerChrysler readies another panel concept for SEMA (this year, it's Nitro-based), Chevy will be taking orders as they prepare to go into production with theirs in Q1. This is a good move, and a great way to give the HHR some added juice.