EDITOR WES RAYNAL: This 2014 Chevrolet SS gets a lot of attention. People seem to know what it is even though the exterior is understated, and those who don't at least realize there's something special happening. (Though I must say some thought it was some sort of performance version of the Malibu.)
I love the V8 roar and dig the 415 hp. The car jumps off the line, and midrange power is impressive. It's powerful and responsive and the ride didn't beat hell out of me. The seats are comfortable, and I thought the interior was nicely done. Comparisons to the Dodge Charger SRT8 are inevitable, I suppose. I like them both and would happily own either one.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR RORY CARROLL: The SS seems to be well-put-together. It is comfortable, quiet and the materials that Chevy chose for the interior were as nice as you'd reasonably expect to find in a Chevy. It didn't feel Cadillac-fancy, but it did feel like a special car.
Given its platform and name, I'd expected it to be a little less sedate, but it's definitely a grown-up car. I'm sure it's hoonable, I'm sure it'll turn a fast-ish lap on a road course, but there wasn't anything raucous about it. Also, the V8 sounded great -- as you'd imagine.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: The Chevy SS is a car that, right or wrong, will only ever appeal to a small portion of the buying public. At nearly $46,000, it isn't the kind of thing you can impulse-buy (but more on that price in a minute). Its four doors and Malibu-esque styling make it an unlikely midlife crisis toy, yet its thirst for fuel means it's not a practical commuter or family-hauler.
I think Chevy knew all this before assembly lines started rolling (or before they started sticking bowties on Holdens, or whatever). And I like the result, a lot.
Much of it is the motor; the engine doesn't exactly roar like a Corvette's -- it's more of an angry animal bellow. Punch the accelerator and be thrown back in your seat; whether or not there's a replacement for displacement, there's something viscerally satisfying about winding up a beefy, naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8.
This car wants to get sideways. I know even good winter rear tires aren't a match for slick roads, but I suspect that you could get things pretty loose on dry summer pavement as well -- especially if you flick off the traction control.
Of course, Chevy has never had trouble building cars that want to get sideways; problems arise when the automaker tries to make the interior a welcoming place to be as you skid around (responsibly, on a closed course). See the Chevy Chevy Camaro ZL1, which features a crappy plastic interior with bits of Alcantara hot-glued to the dash.
Things are much better on this car. As tested, the SS has all the technological features the average buyer will want, all channeled through an easy-to-use technological interface. I could do without the shiny bits everywhere, but everything is well put-together, and certain elements like the gear selector struck me as incredibly solid. Fit and finish and material quality aren't quite up to German standards, but it's all -- and I can't believe I'm saying this -- very Buick-like, in a good way.
And though you're not getting Mercedes-Benz AMG trim quality (or, for that matter, AMG horsepower, or AWD, or…) you're also paying half as much for an SS as you would for an E63 AMG sedan. Different cars, different markets, I know; cachet counts for a lot, and the bowtie doesn't carry the same weight as the tri-star or roundel.
$45,770 might be a lot to pay for an Impala, or even a Camaro, but to someone who wants to maximize hoonability-per-dollar, can use two extra doors and isn't a brand whore, the SS is great fun at a value price. Performance-sedan snobs: Look beyond the SS's all-American (er, Australian-American) roots and you'll find a lot to like here.
SENIOR MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: I agree with Graham re: the Chevrolet SS likely appealing to a very limited segment of buyers who dream of owning a big horsepower, rear-drive, full-size American-made sedan -- especially at a price point that represents a significant cash outlay for the majority of Americans.
From a pure driving perspective, the SS impressed me in terms of its obvious power and torque, its satisfyingly rambunctious engine/exhaust tone, and what feels like a well-controlled chassis. The ride quality strikes a nice balance between firm aggression and everyday livability. The chassis is controlled well without beating you up; you can have fun cornering hard, but you also should find the SS a comfortable carriage for long drives. I'd like to see Chevy tighten up the steering somewhat, as there's an odd amount of deadness on-center that might serve to dampen bump steer but also results in the wheel shifting slightly in your hands at times. This car -- I do not know if there is something functioning incorrectly, or if all SS models suffer from poor calibration -- also features a maddening collision warning alarm that flashes a red light on the instrument display and sounds an audible alert. Trouble is, as far as I can tell there is zero logic, rhyme or reason to when it goes off. You can roar up to another car's rear bumper and nothing happens, then ascend an empty exit ramp only to flinch as the alarm sounds to warn you of … nothing. This irritated me constantly.
My other hang-ups here are subjective to a degree: The exterior appearance is much better than the previous Holden-to-Chevy concocted Pontiac GTO, but the front end's reasonably sharp lines don't exactly match the rear's bulbous styling. And I'd delete the chrome trim overload. The interior is a bit of a mixed bag of soft-touch materials and a surprisingly hard plastic dashboard. It all looks pretty good and the design theme is consistent and tied together well, but it shouldn't be too difficult -- and I wouldn't think too expensive, either -- to improve the perception of quality even further by upgrading some of the trim. A little can go a long way in this regard.
The driving position is very good, the seats are comfortable and well-bolstered, and controls are all within easy, logical reach. Dig into the deep bag of power and torque and you smile at the longitudinal g-load; I expect to see a lot of hot-rodded SSs on Detroit's famed Woodward Avenue “drag strip” in coming years, just as there are now plenty of modded GTOs running up and down it all spring and summer.
The SS is a very capable “family” muscle car that, with a few changes, either from the factory or aftermarket, has huge potential to look and perform even better. Likewise, it will serve practical daily routines without a stutter -- other than sucking down fuel as Graham mentioned. Combine that trait with the $46K sticker price, and the SS is not a cheap proposition to run on a daily basis, but neither is it anywhere near exotic or purely fun enough that I can picture anyone buying it simply as a weekend- or couple-days-a-week “toy.” But it also comes in at tens of thousands of dollars less than Teutonic muscle-car rivals …
If you own one of these, drop me a line. I'd love to hear more about what made you pull the trigger, how you plan to use the car and the list of competitors you considered before throwing Chevy your duckets.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: That red, flashing collision warning drove me nuts, too. Any time you approach a car, at nearly any speed, the stupid thing pops up on the windshield. Besides that, this SS sedan is a good car all around.
I like its shape and size. It feels like what a big American V8 sedan should feel like. I would ditch the chrome bits, including the vents on the quarter panels, trim on the back and maybe even the chrome wheels. I was about to say I don't think people are looking for so much flash, but then I remembered the Chrysler 300, so I guess there's a market for it. Not me, though.
The interior is surprisingly good looking with its suede and rubber accents. The seats are comfortable and adjustable, the infotainment system worked with my phone (though it hesitated a little), and rearward vision is pretty good. I love that flat-bottom steering wheel -- it always signifies something sporty.
This car pulls strong off the line, and will spin the tires if the traction control is off, or in performance mode. And that performance setting, by the way, is perfect for tooling around with a little flair. It'll let the tires smoke for a good amount of time before intervening, and the car will get sideways as well with a professional driver on a closed course.
The guys above have talked about the price. My only thought is this: Sure, it's a little expensive, but if all you want is a high-performance sedan, it's still a better deal than the all of the German offerings.
EDITORIAL INTERN BRAD WILEY: The 2014 Chevrolet SS could be considered the family Vette. Sure it doesn't come with the looks of the C7, but this four-door brut will crank through gears with an exhaust note to drool over. It is an idealized morsel of American muscle, plain and simple. The Big Three have strived to find that classic mix between the accommodations of a sedan and the performance of a coupe. For example, my colleagues make mention of the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Challenger. We could even add the Camaro to the mix. But after driving the SS, my initial thoughts came back to the fourth generation Pontiac GTO with the 6.2-liter V8. But better still; though the Pontiac label has been put to rest, the Pontiac G8 GT comes to mind. And what a revival it is. Hidden beneath the bowtie is all of what the G8 had intended to be back in the day.
Since the objective was to shoehorn in one of the most recognizable LS-family engines under the hood, the 415 hp 6.2-liter V8 was by far a perfect fit. While it's no LS7, the LS3 offers more than enough power to get the 3,975-pound car up and running.
The handling and suspension characteristics of the SS are on point along with the braking. Dodging and weaving through midday traffic was no chore for the pumped up sedan. And the brakes were also up to snuff for a car equipped with this amount of power. The provided Brembo brakes made even the harshest stops a breeze, and didn't cause the occupants to be torn from their lap belts.
The interior of the SS wasn't screaming “look at me,” but the few aesthetically placed SS badges and flat bottom steering wheel gave an overall sporty feel to the four-door, beefed-up grocery getter.
With the 2014 Chevrolet SS being the first Chevy sedan to have rear-wheel drive since the Impala in 1996, I have to say they hit a homerun in my book.
2014 Chevrolet SS
Base Price: $45,770
As-Tested Price: $45,770
Drivetrain: 6.2-liter V8; RWD, six-speed automatic
Output: 415 hp @ 5,900 rpm, 415 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,975 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 14/21/17 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 15.2 mpg
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