A lot of automotive writers have a list of vehicles that we wished more people would consider purchasing. For example, my list of vehicles I wished more people would consider includes the Cadillac CTS, Lexus IS, and Mazda6. Let me add another one to this list, the Chevrolet SS. This car on paper has a number of items that should bring in people such as potent V8 engine, a choice of automatic and manual transmissions, long list of standard features, and a price tag under the $50,000 mark. But this isn’t happening. Sales figures for SS came to 2,479 vehicles in 2014. This year isn’t any better with 2,199 vehicles sold through August. Now, we should note that GM was only planning on selling a couple thousand a year - something the company is achieving. But we think the Chevrolet SS is worthy of more and deserves some time in the spotlight. Let us explain.
Unfortunately, we must begin with a negative to the Chevrolet SS and that happens to be the exterior. The SS happens to be the Holden Commodore from Australia. With the model coming to the U.S., GM made a number of small changes such swapping out the Holden emblems for Chevrolet ones, putting the SS name to the trunk lid, and adding a set of nineteen-inch alloy wheels. However for a model that has the performance credentials like the SS, we were expecting a bit more in terms of design. Maybe some hood vents, flared out fenders, or more aggressive bumpers to make it stand out. Now the understated look does give the SS an understated look to put under the radar of many folks. But maybe it is a bit too understated. The first day I had the SS, my dad said it looked like a Malibu. Ouch.
Chevrolet has fitted the last-generation version of the MyLink system to the SS. While that means you don’t get a fancier interface to use, it does mean you’ll be avoiding a number of problems that currently plagues the current version. The interface is simple looking and easy to understand. Moving to the various functions of the system only takes a few moments. One other bit of technology that Chevrolet has fitted to the SS is a heads-up display. This display provides key information such as speed, navigation, what’s playing, and much more on the windshield. This helps reduce the time you take eyes off the road.
In terms of power, the SS comes packing with a 6.2L V8 with 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. Previously, you could only get a six-speed automatic with the SS. But for the 2015 model year, Chevrolet has added a no-cost six-speed manual as an option.
The first time you start up the 6.2 V8 in the SS, it sounds like a monster being rudely awaken. The engine boasts a pronounced growl at idle. When you put the vehicle into gear and get moving, the V8 begins to purr and produce a distinctive burble that increases in tempo and volume the higher you climb in the rev range. In terms of outright performance, the SS has oodles of power at its disposal. Whether you are leaving a stop light, merging onto a freeway, or accelerating out of a turn, the V8 has power throughout to get you moving.
In terms of fuel economy, the SS equipped with the manual is rated by the EPA at 15 City/21 Highway/17 Combined. Our average for the week was around 16.2 MPG.
If you were worried about the size of the SS being a detriment in overall driving experience, you can breathe a sigh of relief as the SS is a fantastic handler. A lot of this comes down to GM fitting the magnetic ride control system on the SS for the 2015 model year. This system uses special shocks filled with magnetic fluid that instantly change the firmness in milliseconds. This allows the SS to hunker down and show no sign of body roll when you are playing around in the corners and also provides a smooth ride when you’re doing some errands. You can adjust how firm or soft the suspension is via a knob in the center console. The steering has a lot of feel that will inspire a fair amount of confidence for a driver. We just wished there was a little bit more weight to go with it.
It’s a shame the Chevrolet SS isn’t getting the time in the spotlight that it fully deserves. Now some of this has to put at GM since there hasn’t been any marketing for the vehicle. Do you remember the last time you saw an ad for the SS? We going to assume the answer has been never. But some of this must be leveled at the SS’ design. It just blends in with every other car. But the overall package and performance does combat most of the design issues for the SS. This is a car that you kind of have to take a chance on. But if you decide to do it, the SS will reward you greatly.
Disclaimer: Chevrolet Provided the SS, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Engine: 6.2L V8 W/SFI
Driveline: Six-Speed Manual Transmission, Rear-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 415 @ 5,900
Torque @ RPM: 415 @ 4600
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/21/17
Curb Weight: 3,960 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Elizabeth, Australia
Base Price: $45,745
As Tested Price: $46,740 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)