We’ve got a healthy list of staff reviews this week, as we’ve been flooded with some particularly interesting cars, such as the 2007 Chevrolet HHR Panel and a couple of new models from Saturn. Senior reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder gives his take on the Audi RS 4 and 2008 Saturn Vue that we recently posted full-length reviews of earlier this week.
2007 Chevrolet HHR Panel
I’m not sure who would buy this car. A florist in Malibu? A contractor in the Hamptons? Purely as a delivery skiff, it didn’t impress me. I hauled my mom and her luggage to the airport one morning, and the rubber floormats could’ve used some dividers to keep things from shifting around. We didn’t mess with the dual storage bins behind the front seats, but they seemed large enough to swallow a bag or two.
Not that anyone looking for serious storage would choose this. With a starting price north of $18,000, you could easily ramp up to a Dodge Caravan cargo van — it has more than double the room in back, and with the current discounts the outgoing 2007 model starts in the same price neighborhood.
Granted, the HHR panel has a higher cool factor than the Caravan, but some of its features have more style than substance. The two rear doors unlatch with the push of a dashboard button, but that requires you to climb up front first. I wish the buttons had made it onto the key fob, or — imagine this — Chevy had left the handles on the back doors. The paneled windows, meanwhile, make for a wicked blind spot. My advice: Change lanes reeeaaal slow.
- Kelsey Mays, assistant editor
To play the part of wise old man, or perhaps old wiseass, I’ll give what’s probably a different perspective on the HHR Panel — ignoring the obvious question about whether this model was worth Chevy’s effort at all. Anyone considering buying this has accepted its styling and the fact that it’s a two-seat cargo carrier. If you get this far, then it’s not bad at all. If you’ve ever driven a full-size panel van, this one’s limited rear visibility isn’t extraordinary; it’s part of the deal.
And though it’s not a quiet car overall, it doesn’t have the booming or echo of the old-style cargo van. The rear side doors bug me, though. Perhaps the goal was a clean side with no handles; if so, they should have put release buttons on the keyless transmitter. It also looks like a lot of cargo volume is wasted under the front section of the load floor where a backseat would be. There are two lockable storage compartments up top, but they’re too shallow to explain the deep bulkhead.
- Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com senior editor