It’s been 18 years since Chevrolet has offered a rear-wheel-drive sport sedan in their line-up. But it’s not like GM was out of the game entirely, they just left such drivetrains to Cadillac and Pontiac, not to mention their Australian Holden brand, which is where the 2014 Chevrolet SS comes from. Well after a brief fact finding mission, here’s our scoop on the General’s new “rear” admiral.
Yes, Chevrolet is back in the rear-wheel-drive performance sedan business! And you don’t have to be a fan of NASCAR to be excited about that, as with the 2014 SS the bowtie brand now has a fresh and complete suite of high-pro offerings from the all-new Corvette to the refreshed Camaro, and even the small but potent Sonic RS.
The SS joins the Chrysler RWD duo of Charger and 300, and while that’s a small competitive set, we think GM has their sights on loftier competition like European sport sedans. As like other recent GM cars, the SS spent significant development time on the Nurburgring.
And it didn’t take us long, while driving through the many sweeping corners near Palm Springs, California to find the SS’s near perfect balance very rewarding. It is a big car, yet weighs in at under 4,000-pounds. We found the nose a tad heavy; still it felt precise, like driving a 4-door Camaro with better forward visibility.
And that makes sense, since both SS and Camaro are based on Holden Commodore architecture from GM Australia; and since an SS was in the works from the beginning, there’s been no Americanization compromise.
Much like the Camaro, rear visibility is not so great, with a huge deck lid spoiler in your rear view mirror.
This chassis was also under the short lived Pontiac G8, but has been updated since then; and now has belt-driven variable assist electric power steering. While there’s nothing high tech about that, we found it very dialed in with quick response, though even more feel would be nice.
But, while the SS’s firm suspension is great in the twisties, it gets tiresome on the highway. Better seats would help, as would GM’s Magnetic Ride suspension which is not available. All SS’s wear a limited-slip rear and a 6-speed automatic that we found a little slow on response when left alone, unless in Sport mode. Better to use the standard paddle shifters.
Natch, there’s GM small-block power burbling under the hood. An LS3 6.2-liter V8 with nice level numbers of 415-horsepower and 415 lb-ft. of torque. Exhaust gives a nice bark, but inside it remains quiet, which can be good or bad depending on what’s music to your ear. 0-60 time is right at 5.0 seconds.
Inside, things are more sport than luxury; with plenty of SS logos, red stitching, and chrome dash trim. Gauges are equally sporty, featuring the familiar GM deeply hooded twin dial setup with color info screen in between; only hoods are round versus the Camaro’s squarish corners. A color Head Up Display is standard.
Back seat space and comfort are the real strong points here; as seats are large and well padded, offering great comfort for 2 or 3 in a pinch. There’s also good cargo space in the trunk at 16.4 cubic-ft. Chevrolet’s MyLink with 8-inch touch screen display includes standard navigation, and the SS is the first Chevrolet to feature Automatic Parking Assist.
Exterior design is testosterone filled with a muscular nose-down stance, flared out fenders, and staggered 19-inch wheels with 245/40 rubber up front, 275/35 in the rear. Though the friendly new Chevrolet face keeps this Super Sport from being too aggressive. HID headlights and LED running lights are standard.
Fuel Economy is more old school muscle car than modern sport sedan with Government Ratings of 14-City, 21-Highway, and 17-Combined. That means a Gas Guzzler tax and a poor Energy Impact Score of 19.4-barrels of annual oil use and 8.9 tons of CO2 emissions.
The SS is truly an international affair, being built in Australia, developed in Germany, with a big Detroit designed power V8 that’s actually assembled in Mexico.
Fortunately, pricing is simple as there are very few options and just one model of SS starting at $45,770. That’s very close to an SRT8 Charger sedan.
It truly is great to see Chevrolet return to the full-size rear drive sedan ranks. And while the SS is fun that we enjoyed more than we thought we would, it’s not as refined as the Charger, which would probably still be our hot-rod big four-door pick.
Another wrinkle is the unknown future of the SS. GM says it will stop building vehicles in Australia by 2017. Let’s hope the Chevrolet SS finds a new home in our home before then; and perhaps a little more refinement as well, or else it may quickly disappear like the G8. And, that would be a real pity!
Engine: 6.2-liter V8
Torque: 415 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 5.0 seconds
EPA: 14 mpg city/ 21 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 19.4 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 8.9 tons/yr