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The 2014 Chevrolet SS marks the arrival of a rear-wheel-drive V-8 performance sedan to Chevy dealerships—for the first time this century.
For the SS, which packs a 415-horsepower version of the outgoing Corvette C6's big LS3 V-8 under the hood, the timing might seem a little odd. As the automaker and others turn to smaller, turbocharged engines and worry about mileage numbers, the SS is a 14-mpg (city) lush that's indeed subject to the federal gas guzzler tax. And after the introduction of the curvaceous 2014 Impala, the SS and its conservative profile look like a carry-over from another time at Chevrolet.
But the truth is that the new 2014 Chevy SS is going to be a relatively limited-volume offering--more of a sedan mate to the Camaro, and a spicier alternative to those mainstream sedans like the Impala and Malibu.
If you squint just a bit and feel like you've seen this car before--at least from the outside--you wouldn't be too far off. The SS is essentially a reworked version of the latest VF Commodore SS (the flagship muscle sedan from GM's Australian division, Holden), which in its previous generation version made it Stateside as the Pontiac G8. And it's essentially a refined, more aggressively styled iteration of the Chevrolet Caprice PPV that's been sold for police fleets. With staggered wheels, a low, wedgy shape, and a tapered, teardrop-like greenhouse, the new SS looks just a little muscle-car-like, while the big bow-tie grille calls it out as a Chevrolet. Inside, the SS has more of a cockpit-like layout than other current models from the Chevy stable (with ice-blue lighting).
The mammoth V-8 is hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission (no manual) helping deliver power to the rear wheels. Acceleration times to 60 mph takes less than five seconds, while strong Brembo front brakes are standard, there's a near-perfect 52/48 weight distribution, and a true multi-link independent rear suspension. Forged aluminum wheels with Z-rated tires also call out some serious performance intent.
And for the most part it delivers on that. It's pretty impressive given how the SS doesn't have any tricks up its sleeve in the way of multi-mode steering, an adjustable suspension, or even dual-path/adaptive dampers. It's just been really well calibrated—with the goods to take on serious driving roads, yet just enough comfort for those in areas with relatively good road quality. The only significant disappointment, dynamically, is how the automatic transmission contributes; it's too muted and delayed in its responses--lazy in Drive but still not sharp enough in its Sport mode.
Otherwise, in trade, you get what you might expect--a rather firm, performance-car ride that's just compliant enough provided the pavement isn't too rough. Hydraulically damped bushings for the suspension, and rubber isolation in back, should help keep the cabin relatively quiet from road noise, however. Very aggressively bolstered sport seats look set up to hold you in place on the track of your choice (or just while you're doing burnouts). Back seat space is surprisingly ample.
Chevrolet has loaded the SS with active-safety features, including standard forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind-zone alert, and rear cross traffic alert, and a rear vision camera. There are also eight standard airbags, including knee bags for the driver and front passenger.
Feature-wise, the SS is the first Chevrolet to feature Automatic Parking Assist, which will help steer you into a parking spot. Leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated-and-ventilated front seats, keyless access, push-button start, remote start, a head-up display, and 220-watt Bose audio are all included. So is Chevrolet MyLink, which has an eight-inch color touch screen and can help manage hands-free conversations, media, and infotainment apps through a connected smartphone.
At $44,470, the SS includes HID headlamps and LED daytime running lamps, automatic park assist, and the Chevrolet MyLink system. Additionally, the car is also outfitted with a premium Bose sound system, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats. Only individualists might complain at the lack of build variations; and for them we're told there's a pretty significant list of dealer-installed options on the way.