If you’re a NASCAR fan, the face of the Chevrolet SS will look familiar because the nose of the Chevrolet Sprint Cup stock car that Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove to victory in the Daytona 500 bears a passing resemblance to that of the production car. The two are related in name only, of course, but the four-door SS is a performance car worth noting.
With fuel economy and hybrid powertrains are all the talk, it’s pretty unusual for Chevrolet to build a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive performance sedan that is a bit of a throwback to muscle cars of yore. The SS is essentially a Holden Commodore from Australia, and a 415-horsepower V-8 sits behind the Bowtie badge on the grille. The 6.2-liter engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually using paddles on the steering wheel. It is also kin to the Chevrolet Police Patrol Vehicle.
The base price of $43,475 seemed a bit steep to me, but the SS does come standard with items such a blind-spot monitor, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, rearview camera with cross traffic alert, navigation, Bose stereo with nine speakers, color head-up display and an automatic parking assist.
Fuel economy is rated at 14 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway, necessitating a gas-guzzler tax of $1,300.
The SS feels lively on the street, but it begs for some track time in order to truly assess its capabilities. The near perfect 50/50 weight balance, thanks in part to an aluminum hood and deck, makes it surefooted in corners, and the thrust of the V-8 is almost like that of the Corvette. I suspect it could humble some more exotic machinery on a track.
I drove the SS earlier this year when there was a small amount of snow on the ground, and the wide, ultra-high-performance Bridgestone tires that make it so capable in dry-weather handling were a complete mismatch with the weather. After one light snow I could hard climb my driveway, and it’s almost flat. Winter tires would be mandatory for this car.
After the snow melted I had a chance to see just how potent this car is. It hits 60 miles per hour in 5 seconds, and the massive, 14-inch Brembo front brakes are a welcome component of the package, especially when some bozo unexpectedly changes lanes in front of you on the freeway. The sports suspension is buttoned down for good handling without creating an ox-cart ride.
The interior was one area that pleasantly surprised me. The combination of surface textures, pleasing design and either brushed aluminum or chrome trim was as good as or better than the interior of the new Corvette. The lower part of the instrument panel was covered with handsome suede while leather was on top. Suede’s low reflective qualities make it perfect for this application, and it looks especially rich.
The SS front seats were nicely bolstered to provide good lumbar and lateral support, a necessity for aggressive driving or long hours at the wheel.
The eight-inch LCD screen in the dash is also used for Chevrolet’s MyLink, and it provides smartphone connectivity so users can play music through the system via their phone.Price
The base price of the Chevrolet SS is $43,475. With a $1,300 gas-guzzler tax and destination, the sticker price was $45,770.Warranty
Three years or 36,000 miles, with a 5-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Scheduled maintenance is free for two years or 24,000 miles.