2014 Chevrolet SS
by John Davis
One of the more interesting aspects of the post bankruptcy General Motors is their efforts to field new products that have few direct competitors, either from hometown domestic or import brands. Their new mid-size pickup trucks from Chevrolet and GMC will go up against only a pair of contenders, and both of those import brand haulers are quite long in the tooth. In addition, both Chevy and Cadillac are showing that competent rear-wheel drive sedans can indeed find a waiting American market.
That’s especially true of the latest hot four-door from the Bowtie brigade, the Chevrolet SS. The SS is Chevy’s first V-8, rear-wheel drive sedan in almost two decades.
Sharing its basic chassis with the Caprice PPV police cruiser, as well as Pontiac’s late lamented G8 and the current Camaro, this blast-from-the-past bruiser is clearly familiar under the skin. Power comes from the same 6.2 liter small-block LS3 V-8 used in the last generation C6 Corvette, and the current Camaro SS. With an output of 415 horsepower, it makes the SS an awesome performer.
Using the paddle shifters that comes standard with the sole 6-speed automatic transmission, high velocity is easy to come by. We clocked initial 0-60 sprints in just under 5 seconds.
But, the Australian assembled SS is more than just a straight line racer. The suspension is very firm, which is great for playing around with corners, even if it does get a little jarring on broken highways. Unfortunately GM’s magnetic ride suspension isn't an available option which would smooth things out considerably. However, a near 50/50 weight distribution serves up great cornering response and the steering feel is top notch.
Indeed, its Camaro kinship really comes through as the SS feels and reacts with a very sporty attitude, despite its considerable size and weight. Think 4-door Camaro if you will, with its extra length being used for a spacious back seat and trunk.
As for appearances, the styling of the SS is pretty conservative. That makes it a pure sleeper in our book. Besides front fender vents and the ubiquitous Brembo brake calipers peeking through the 19-inch wheels, there’s not much by way of aggression. In fact, from far away, you may mistake it for an Impala or even Malibu.
Interior treatment is also laid back and is more oriented towards comfort than driver-control. The cabin is quiet and a host of advanced safety features are standard including Blind Zone, Rear Cross Traffic, and Forward Collision Alert systems. So too is Chevy’s MyLink system infotainment interface, a backup camera, and a new Automatic Parking Assist system, which will steer the car into a spot itself, while you monitor acceleration and braking. The standard feature list is so complete that only a power sunroof and full spare tire are available as upgrades.
For more of our exclusive roadtest of the 2014 Chevrolet SS be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3321. This show begins airing on January 25, 2013. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.
Clearly the Chevrolet SS is a niche product. But, with the exception of the SRT8 trimmed Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, it has no near peers for its price. That, plus the aura of limited volume exclusivity, gives the SS a good shot at becoming America’s premier hot rod sedan for years to come.