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Which should I chose?
















However, I only have $8,000 at the moment, and I need more than $20,000 to get a nicely loaded HHR or Astra.

None the less, I'm becoming really attracted to the Astra.
 

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I'd say it depends on your needs. The HHR is more cavernous than the Astra but the Astra is sportier in look and feel. Either choice would be a plus in my book but if it were me knowing my taste, I would choose the 5 door Astra with the dual sunroof.
 

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How about a two/three year old Cobalt? That is more realistic for right now with the amount you have to spend. Otherwise I recommend waiting a couple of years for your resources to grow and these vehicles to hit the used market.

If you buy a used four cylinder vehicle make sure you having the timing belt changed according to the maintenance schedule or you will blow your engine and be royally screwed. $500 is money well spent in comparison to a new engine for vehicle.
 

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If you work hard enough you should be able to get a decently equipped HHR for around 15k. I got a brand new leftover 07 HHR back in January for a before tax price of $10,300! This was with all the incentives at the time (GM CARD Round-up, GM rebate, GM loyalty, and dealer discount. The MSRP was $16,595. It not loaded at all but it does have PW/AC/CD and it fits my needs well. So I think if your timing is right you should be able to get a $20k MSRP HHR for somewhere around 15K. You will definitley be able to neg a better deal on an HHR then the Astra.

It all depends on you needs--if you need more utlilty go for the HHR. If you want a better on road feel go with the Astra.
 

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what are your priorities? Do you want power, gas/fuel economy, looks, driver's car or more room, like a mini-suv seating or a sporty compact coupe seat position? Do you need room, have any kids/lots of friends to car around?

based on those needs above, it should be very clear which car is best fit for you. Also, put 7k down in a down payment, and just make small monthly payments if you have a stable job/income!

CobaltSS
 

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How about a two/three year old Cobalt? That is more realistic for right now with the amount you have to spend. Otherwise I recommend waiting a couple of years for your resources to grow and these vehicles to hit the used market.

If you buy a used four cylinder vehicle make sure you having the timing belt changed according to the maintenance schedule or you will blow your engine and be royally screwed. $500 is money well spent in comparison to a new engine for vehicle.
Cobalt's dont have a timing belt.
 

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Cobalt's dont have a timing belt.
Correct. The Astra actually DOES have a belt--it's Ecotec is a little different than what we've had here for years--but all of the NA GM drivetrains as of now, are chained. Either way, not a big deal, as the typical change interval is 100k and Hondas have been like that forever...with not a complaint.

I vote Astra just because I like the Euro designed and built qualities it has, the 1.8L is still quite spunky and very efficient, it's refined to the extreme, etc. Very, very nice small car. But the HHR is also a little more practical--tight, but more usable--also built quite well, very efficient, looks cool, etc. and can be had for nice bargains.

Drive both, and see what you like and buy with a nice down payment. Or, just wait, or buy something used in your range if you need/want something now.
 

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Like others have said let us know what you are looking for in the car. Also I think it was that you are still in college, if that is the case, I would buy a used car or if you can, or wait until you graduate/get a job to get a car.

If you have any questions about the Astra I drive one everyday so I do know what to expect and am more than willing to answer any question you might have.
 

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I owned a 2007 HHR 1LT for a short period of time and I loved it! It had decent power and lots of room and would definitely buy another. The SS would be lots of fun! The Astra seems nice as well so I don't think you can go wrong with either!
 

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However, I only have $8,000 at the moment, and I need more than $20,000 to get a nicely loaded HHR or Astra.
Define "nicely loaded".....

Not sure about the Astra, but even the base HHR comes with power everthing except the seat, CD player, auto has remote start, etc.....

But if $8K is you number, your going to have to look at used.
 

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The $8K is generous when it comes to a down payment. @ 60 months around 5.99% (the usual going rate for the Astra) you could be around $250 monthly for a pretty well equipped ride.
 

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Correct. The Astra actually DOES have a belt--it's Ecotec is a little different than what we've had here for years--but all of the NA GM drivetrains as of now, are chained. Either way, not a big deal, as the typical change interval is 100k and Hondas have been like that forever...with not a complaint.

I vote Astra just because I like the Euro designed and built qualities it has, the 1.8L is still quite spunky and very efficient, it's refined to the extreme, etc. Very, very nice small car. But the HHR is also a little more practical--tight, but more usable--also built quite well, very efficient, looks cool, etc. and can be had for nice bargains.

Drive both, and see what you like and buy with a nice down payment. Or, just wait, or buy something used in your range if you need/want something now.
Thanks for the correction. As a former Hyundai owner I am paranoid about timing belts. Two acquaintences have blown engines due to ignoring the replacement interval.
 

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HHR with 0% would be the way to go. Or a used one, which you can pick up for a little more than you have budgeted. I find nice LTs around here with less than 30k for around $13k.
 

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It really depends on your needs. I like both cars. Practicality/value wise the HHR may have an edge. The Astra is more sophisticated overall, and is one of the best in its class.
 

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If it were me, I'd go for the Astra, because it looks more modern, better build, and most likely does better on gas. However, Saturn doesn't do the GM cards and some rebates, the Astra is a bit too new for them to offer rebates on it yet. The HHR is a nice vehicle, but more retro, has more interior space, unique styling, and probably better incentives. An Astra is roughly 22-23K fully loaded, while an HHR can go for as much as 25K for a fully loaded SS model. Or there is the LT model for around 23K fully loaded. So its all what you are looking for, but based on my limited experience, I would put at least half down on the car, and then you are left with a smaller, more manageable payment.
 

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I doubt that the real world mileage on the Astra puts it at that much of a disadvantage over the Japanese makes. Those cars are tuned for different kind of driving. I'd bet that the Astra may improve over it's EPA rating slightly while the rating on the HHR is pretty close to what you can expect, as it has been tuned for American driving.

That said, I think the HHR is more of a chick car/family car and the Astra is more of a driver's car.

Which meets your needs? They are both relatively fuel efficient (2.2L 5speed manual HHR), esp considering the HHR's interior volume.
You can probably get a sweet deal on a 2.2L manual equipped HHR....not so much on the Astra as it's still a new model.

HHR pros:
-big interior, lots of space
-proven durable (Delta chassis has been on the market a while, and the 2.2L has timing chans instead of belts).
-good deals abound
-eye catching styling
-lots of choices
-comes with a roof rack for added versatility
-can tow a very small trailer

HHR cons:
-says more "soccer mom" than the Astra does
-Little heavy on the chrome out front
-probably more expensive to insure considering the sheet metal panel shapes
-it's wider than the Astra, so parking may be more difficult.

Astra Pros
-great handling
-euro looks
-very easy to park
-nice interior
-Saturn dealership, friendly salesperson


Astra cons:
-uses timing belt
-high demand causes less supply to choose from
-less interior space
-euro-sourced car means euro sourced parts (expensive with exchange rates if you need to make a repair after a collision). This car is probably not cheap to ensure either.
-uncertain reliability- Opel sourced cars have been inconsistant- the Aura has been okay from what I understand, but the Catera was pretty bad.
-towing not recommended


Check on Autotrader...you can get an HHR LS (which comes pretty well equipped) for a good price, and operating cost will be low with the 2.2L manual as gas mileage is probaby high.
I don't think a new or almost new HHR LS for $14K-$16K is out of the question. Good luck with finding a good deal on the Astra.


I'd also recommend a Chevy Aveo 5 door, Honda Fit or Yaris 3 door if you are on a budget and don't need all the space. You can't beat Honda quality and 35+mpg. Fits can go for up to $18K, but choose options wisely and you can get one for for similar prices to the HHR. The Yaris 3 door is a decent deal, but doesn't come with much standard equipment.....looking at $13K out the door for that one. Chevy dealers only stock silver cobalt LS sedans with auto transmissions as their econo car options (gotta make room for hundreds of Tahoes that are gathering dust now), so good luck finding a 5 door aveo with desirable options and a manual. You can probably get a decent one for $13K or less if you haggle well.
Definately go for the manual transmissions on whatever you get. It will improve gas mileage and driver's entertainment, and you can "join the club" that I can't join because the Silverado product planners are stupid. It's cheaper to replace a clutch ($400) ever 75,000 miles than a transmission ($1800+) every 120,000 miles. If you get the Japanese branded cars, try to get all the maintenance work done at the same time to save money....they are not as cheap to own as people would lead you to believe. A busted timing belt can bend the valves back and cause major camshaft problems- so preventative maintenance is key.
 

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I don't think a new or almost new HHR LS for $14K-$16K is out of the question. Good luck with finding a good deal on the Astra.
I paid <$17K for my 2.2 5speed LT. You can do a lot better than that now if you shop around. The manuals are hard to find though.

As far as insurance, mine went up $60/year on the HHR compared to a 96 Silverado Ext Cab, 5.7/auto.
 

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I'd go with the Astra. More fun to drive and has a higher quality interior. I also like the exterior styling better on the Astra.
 

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-uncertain reliability- Opel sourced cars have been inconsistant- the Aura has been okay from what I understand, but the Catera was pretty bad.
Aura, I repeat, has NOTHING to do with Opel. That said, late-generation Omegas (2001 onwards) had rather decent reliability, so I don't know what happened when they crossed the Atlantic....
 
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