Heartbeat City contains a total of five American Top 40 singles. Of these, "Drive" and "You Might Think" were also Top 10 hits, reaching the #3 and #7 positions, respectively. A number of songs from the album gained significant radio and TV exposure; most notably "You Might Think" and "Magic", which both received heavy airplay on MTV.
The lead vocal on "Drive" was performed by bassist Benjamin Orr. The song's video was directed by actor Timothy Hutton. It features Ocasek arguing with a troubled young woman played by model Paulina Porizkova, whom Ocasek would later marry. "Hello Again" had a video directed by the legendary Andy Warhol, who also appeared onscreen.
The song "Stranger Eyes" was used in the theatrical trailer of the 1986 film Top Gun, but it never made it into the soundtrack. "Looking for Love" was later covered by Austrian singer Falco as "Munich Girls" on his 1985 album Falco 3.
When The Cars performed at Live Aid, they played three songs from the album ("You Might Think" and "Drive", plus the album's title track) alongside the fan favorite "Just What I Needed".
The album was produced by acclaimed producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange. His commitment to the Cars album meant that he was not able to work on the forthcoming Def Leppard album, Hysteria. However, due to delays in that album's recording, Lange was eventually able to produce the latter album.