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avant1963

Test drove HHR 2LT and Malibu MAXX SS

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It's a very sad day at my house since I know that the time is running out for my 1996 Camaro Z28 convertible. I just recently started a new job that requires me to drive in really ugly traffic and spend 1 hour each way a day - something the Z28 is not all too happy about. So the quest goes to replace it.

I like the HHRs and they aren't too expensive even with all the options, and the Malibu MAXX SS in Laser Blue looks really good, so I went to a local dealer this morning to see if I could live with the 172 HP in the HHR....

NOPE!

There's no way I could be happy - even sititng in traffic with the HHR. It probably is fine for people that did not grow up with muscle cars and V-8s in everything, but to me, it just isn't enough.

So, I'm pretty set on the MAXX SS. The 3.9 pulls like a champ and even gives a twitter of touque steer when nailed. I haven't decided to send the Z28 up the river yet (105,000 miles) but I feel the end is coming soon.

OTHERS CONSIDERED:

Pontiac Solstice - Don't want a stick with hour's worth of traffic, not practical enough to be our second car.

Pontiac GTO - Again, no stick and refuse to buy it with an auto. Plus, a little more than I want to spend.

Pontiac GP GXP - More than I want to spend.

Pontiac G6 GTP - Already have a G6 GT and don't want two of the EXACT same cars. I like the MAXX hatchback better. It's really hard to tell the difference between a GT and a GTP (pipes and wheels) - maybe if they were visualy different.

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I have to sell it (even as a weekend car, the insurance is $1300 a year in NJ - WAY to high for a car I would use once in a while). I have to sell the car outright (can't trade it) - I'm looking for about $6,000 for a car in really good shape. I hate to see it go.

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I see your point about the HHR. Although I haven't test drove one, but I have been in a Cobalt. A midsize fits in with me so much better.

Although I'm not a fan of the Malibu's look (even after the mild refresh), I'm a fan of its utility.

Great choice.

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Good choice. If you are used to driving a V-8, odds are the gas mileage would suck on the HHR because you'd be riding it hard all the time. In real world driving conditions the Maxx will get decent mileage.

It's interesting when people "downsize" they often make the mistake of dropping too far down the line and then are very unhappy.

Extreme case in point: I had a customer with a 2002 Monte Carlo want to get his payment down and save gas. He ended up leasing an Epica, which he hated after 3 months. He was a young guy and used to the power of the 3.8, but even after two test drives of the anemic Epica he insisted it didn't matter. Now he really regrets his decision.

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Sounds like a good choice. My dad really likes his Maxx after about 18 months of ownership. I'd like to see how much quicker the Maxx SS is, as the regular Maxx is a little slow for me.

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Well, I have the G6 with the 3.5 and the MAXX was noticably faster, almost GP GXP kick in the pants fast. The 3.9 seems really worth the extra.

While I am not turned off by the G6 GT electric steering, I was nice to drive the Epsilon with a hydr. system and the three spoke steering wheel.

If my wife gets her new job, the MAXX will be hitting my driveway in the next week or so...

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I suppose the Maxx SS is a decent choice, though I personally feel the Impala 3LT is a better car with the same powertrain (with more power) for about the same price.

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Guest Josh

You can get the Solstice with an auto now. All restraints have been lifted and you could probably have one in two months if that.

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I like the Maxx SS but I'm gonna seize this opportunity to use this as an example of proof again of how GM has virtually nothing on the market for guys like me and avant who want a car with some gusto and speed and handling but also need it to be a daily driver and wouldn't mind if it was a GM car, and reasonably priced.

As far as the gto, I am sure in about 5 minutes you could find a GTO with stick and under 10,000 miles on it for 20-25 grand. They are all over, or at least were the last time i checked. There is a yellow on with stick I've been eyeballing with about 5,000 miles on it, but I need a more weather friendly car with 4 doors.

The Maxx SS is decent but its pitiful that GM doesn't have a bunch more better yet to offer to those who want a capably sporty everyday driver.

Hey, do you like the Aura? Not like they'll put a stick in it anyways.......

Edited by regfootball

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As far as the gto, I am sure in about 5 minutes you could find a GTO with stick and under 10,000 miles on it for 20-25 grand.  They are all over, or at least were the last time i checked.  There is a yellow on with stick I've been eyeballing with about 5,000 miles on it, but I need a more weather friendly car with 4 doors.

Speaking of which, there's a brand-new 2005 GTO 6.0l automatic at the local B-P-GMC lot with $28,560 on the windshield.

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You can get a new GTO for about $25k now (2005 model). I've seen plenty of people on LS1GTO.com get new '05s for $25-26k.

If you want it even cheaper you could get a slightly used '04 (like mine) for a little over $20k.

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If you want it even cheaper you could get a slightly used '04 (like mine) for a little over $20k.

*raises eyebrow*

Wow ... that's not bad at all ... I may have to look into that a bit more then. Though, a used Charger wouldn't be bad either....

Speaking of GTOs, though, tonight, I finally saw a GTO commercial ... awesome, too!

Cort, "Mr MC" / "Mr Road Trip", 32swm/pig valve/pacemaker

MC:family.IL.guide.future = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort/

Models.HO = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort/trainroom.html

"Relight the flame when it's cold"...Godsmack...'Serenity'

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Speaking of which, there's a brand-new 2005 GTO 6.0l automatic at the local B-P-GMC lot with $28,560 on the windshield.

Same... there are "$28,888 NEW GTO!" ads in the paper now.

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I have to agree with reg that GM needs to offer more inticing cars in this range, not that the Malibu is bad, but if the MAXX wasn't available, I wouldn't get a sedan. The short deck and hatch makes it all the more appealing.

And believe me Josh, I've thought about waiting for an auto Solstice, but this purchase needs to be a functional one. When the lease on the G6 runs out in 2 1/2 years, the car I get now becomes my wifes and THEN I can get my 2009 Camaro. The Solstice just doesn't make sense, especially since it would be the same price as the MAXX SS (My Solstice would have to be loaded AND have an extra $1000 for the auto bringing me to the $26-27,000 range).

The Aura is very nice, but I'm trying to be a little price concious here and since I can't use the GM Card rebate and there's no haggle on the price, a well equipped Aura is probably going to top out in the $28,000 range and I might as well get what I really want (a GP GXP) if I'm going to hover at the $30,000 price point. I can't lease this car, it has to be a purchase.

Actualy, as long as the Camaro goes out as planned, this should all fall into place very nicely.

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It's a very sad day at my house since I know that the time is running out for my 1996 Camaro Z28 convertible.  I just recently started a new job that requires me to drive in really ugly traffic and spend 1 hour each way a day - something the Z28 is not all too happy about.  So the quest goes to replace it. 

I like the HHRs and they aren't too expensive even with all the options, and the Malibu MAXX SS in Laser Blue looks really good, so I went to a local dealer this morning to see if I could live with the 172 HP in the HHR....

NOPE!

There's no way I could be happy - even sititng in traffic with the HHR.  It probably is fine for people that did not grow up with muscle cars and V-8s in everything, but to me, it just isn't enough.

So, I'm pretty set on the MAXX SS.  The 3.9 pulls like a champ and even gives a twitter of touque steer when nailed.  I haven't decided to send the Z28 up the river yet (105,000 miles) but I feel the end is coming soon.

OTHERS CONSIDERED:

Pontiac Solstice - Don't want a stick with hour's worth of traffic, not practical enough to be our second car.

Pontiac GTO - Again, no stick and refuse to buy it with an auto.  Plus, a little more than I want to spend.

Pontiac GP GXP - More than I want to spend.

Pontiac G6 GTP - Already have a G6 GT and don't want two of the EXACT same cars.  I like the MAXX hatchback better.  It's really hard to tell the difference between a GT and a GTP (pipes and wheels) - maybe if they were visualy different.

If the HHR was offered in a SS package with a SS suspension and 205 SC Ecotec would the out come have been different?

Just wondering? I don't know if I would be happy with a HHR but am intriged by them.

Performance is one area of concern for me. Cornering and power both are of great interest.

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The HHR seems like it needs the 260 hp turbo for those that really want some spirited driving. The problem with that is those of us that are avoiding sticks because of unspirited traffic congestion would probably only have a stick to choose from in the SS version, so I would have still needed to go to the MAXX SS.

The HHR was a nice drive and you sit in a commanding view of the road. The 2.4 moves the trucklet, but I found myself unsatisfied when taking off and flooring it, alerting me to the fact that the HHR would spend most of the time thrashing underfoot because I am used to GM engine's usual torque curve and do not have the mentality for a little four-banger when attached to a 3500+ pound vehicle. Those used to driving higher-reving low-displacement engines probably would have not problem with the 2.4.

All I can advise is to do what I did. Get in one, take it out and drive it like you drive your current car. If you step on the gas and wonder why t feels like you aren't going anywhere (the lack of torque), then the HHR is not for you.

I really like it otherwise.

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Although I'm not a fan of the Malibu's look (even after the mild refresh), I'm a fan of its utility.

It all depends on your definition of utility.....

I had a Maxx one time as a rental.....and my (overly) large suitcase wouldn't even fit in the cargo area....unless I lowered the seat(s.)

It DOES fit in a Malibu SEDAN's trunk however.....

To me, and for my purposes of utility.....I'd shy AWAY from a Malibu MAXX.

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If I went SAAB, I'd have to go with the new 6-banger, and I'd be in the GP GXP $$ range again and would rather have a V-8. That also takes out any used 9-3. The little 4-banger in the 9-3 doesn't to it for me, even in 2.0t trim. I just like larger displacement torquey engines.

The Cobalt is nice, but not big enough for me. I have to go mid to large. If I was just looking for a short-term commuter car that wouldn't have a second life as a weekend warrior, I would have either gone Solstice or Cobalt SS.

I like the way the short-deck of the MAXX looks 10x more than the sedan, so even if the trunk of the sedan is bigger, I have to stick with the MAXX.

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