By Jeffrey N. Ross, for GM Authority
Forget burnouts, top speeds and high g-force turns. The best thing about driving a performance vehicle is being able to scare the wits out of your passengers. And for 2014, Chevrolet maximizes your scared-passenger quotient with the all-new, five-passenger 2014 Chevrolet SS performance sedan. The SS is essentially a spacious, fullsize sedan with a powerful V8 packed under the hood, which is an excellent recipe for frightening unsuspecting occupants.
Unsuspecting because many passengers will be surprised by the SS’ performance abilities thanks to its nondescript styling. There are no flashy spoilers or wings. Even the looks of the deceased, but closely related, Pontiac G8 are far more intimidating. In fact, the SS might end up going down as one of the ultimate sleepers of the modern car era. From the outside, it’s just a big family sedan, but the first time you launch from a dead stop to 60 mph in five seconds, your passengers will either be grinning from ear to ear or clutching whatever they can hold onto in fear. Both are fun to watch.
Helping motivate its almost two tons of mass, the SS has the same 6.2-liter V8 as the Camaro SS, which is why it has earned the nickname as a four-door Camaro. Unlike the Camaro, there is no base V6 model. Just the LS3 with its 415 horsepower to go along with an equal 415 lb-ft of torque. Nor is there a manual gearbox, which is rather disappointing for a car built specifically to appease enthusiasts. The only transmission available is a six-speed automatic, but it does have a manual shift mode that can be operated with steering wheel paddle shifters – a small and appreciated consolation.
Chevy likes to point out that it has been 17 years since its last rear-drive performance sedan was killed off, but the SS feels nothing like the monochromatic, mag-wheeled Impala SS, which produced just 260 hp and 330 lb-ft during its brief existence in the mid ‘90s. Rather than the Texas-built Caprice, the SS is an Australian-sourced successor to the short-lived G8 GXP, and GM has made impressive improvements in the chassis since 2009 leaving this car feeling more like a European sport sedan rather than a big, bulky American car.
Chevy’s new SS is without a doubt a true American muscle car. The irony in this, of course, isn’t just the car’s Aussie production, but also that it feels quick on its feet and isn’t afraid to carve a few corners. Brakes and steering are both spot on for what is expected from a sports sedan, but its true beauty rests in your right foot. In your average driving conditions, the SS is remarkably reserved, but bury the gas pedal and the car’s performance intentions are readily apparent not only with the quick acceleration but also with the exhaust note that comes to life under full throttle. Despite its purpose as a big sport sedan, the SS is still comfortable enough to put some miles on during a road trip.
Unlike the brazen cop car styling of the 1994-96 Impala SS or the edgy design of the Pontiac G8, the SS doesn’t stand out as a high-output performance sedan. The only hint that the SS isn’t your typical family sedan is actaully the 19-inch wheels showing off the Brembo brakes. Sadly, those wheels are your only option, so if you don’t like bright, polished aluminum wheels, you’re going to have to look to the aftermarket for a solution. As a limited-production, import vehicle, Chevrolet has kept the option list sparse to help ensure that the dealer supply doesn’t outpace customer demand, a strategy that will surely cement the SS as a future classic.
In addition to the five exterior colors (Mystic Green in the case of this tester), the only choices SS buyers will have are the options of a sunroof and fullsize spare tire. That means the comfortable sport bucket seats, the flat-bottomed steering wheel and the abundance of perforated and suede leather are all standard equipment. There is plenty of space inside the SS for five adult passengers along with a massive trunk, and the amount of luxury and technology (including Chevy MyLink, navigation and head-up display) offered in this car is well worth the $45,770 starting price – not including the $1,300 gas-guzzler tax, which many buyers will likely be glad to hand over to own an SS.
If you want a sedan, Chevrolet has plenty of them for you (six in total), but if you want a performance sedan, then check out the SS – an unapologetic vehicle aimed directly at the enthusiasts to entertain drivers and terrorize passengers.