2014 Chevrolet SS: Let’s play “Stump the Car Guy.”
Price: $45,770, including $1,300 Gas Guzzler Tax and destination.
Marketer’s pitch: “Accelerating tradition.”
Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com likes the “glorious V8 power; strong brakes; shockingly capable handling; nicely equipped interior has room for the whole family” but not the “expectedly low fuel economy; touchscreen interface can be slow to respond.”
Reality: Vroom with four doors.
What’s that? When the fleet arranged some new GM vehicles for me, among them was the Chevrolet SS. I just politely gave a few “Uhm-mms” and pictured the old SSR pickup in my head. “That can’t be right,” I thought.
In the meantime, I did some checking and realized it was a sedan, and likely a hot rod one (as I knew the SS designator indicated). And, of all places, it comes from the land down under, where it begins life as the Holden VF Commodore, which used to come to our shores as the Pontiac G8 before that brand went down in the 2010 General Motors restructuring.
So I was intrigued when it showed up in the Seat family driveway. It didn’t look like anything special at first glance, even in a color called “Red Hot.”
Getting in: The interior is GM middle-of-the-road; I felt shades of the Cruze and the Buick LaCrosse when I climbed inside. It’s nice enough, with comfy leather seats and pretty silver touches accenting the black, but that’s not what the SS is all about.
Strap yourself in: It’s what’s under the hood that counts. The 415-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 moves the vehicle to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. This is well within the range of plastering occupants into their seats. Thirteen-year-old Sturgis Kid 4.0 approves wholeheartedly.
On the road: And it’s not just a straight-line rocket, either. Handling on the curves is a whole lot of fun in the SS, as well.
Shifty: The shiftable automatic, unfortunately, does not shift itself easily in automatic mode on full throttle, though; it took itself to the redline very quickly. It took me a few tries to find the best way to make a quick getaway. Plan on shifting your own gears using the shifter or steering-wheel paddles when you want to show off.
Motor music: “Why would anyone pay $45,000 for a hot-rod Chevy?” I wondered out loud to a colleague one night. As she climbed into the passenger side, I fired up the 6.2-liter V8 and the exhaust note fired the beloved SS sound.
She laughed. “Oh, that’s why,” she said. Yeah, it’s definitely a sweet sound.
Room for four: Though the Camaro has four seats and is not too cramped, getting in and out of the rear compartment will remove any acquaintances’ final shred of dignity. The SS has four doors and plenty of legroom in the rear for real Mr. Driver’s Seat-sized people. A middle spot is compromised by a large rear-wheel-drive center hump.
The rear doors are no compromise at all.
Play some tunes: When people tire of listening to the throaty exhaust, they’ll want to hear a CD or XM. The MyLink infotainment system in the SS definitely provides top-notch sound.
A touch screen is melded with quite a number of buttons so drivers can operate a lot of functions without having to look at the screen.
Weird seats: Designers of hot rod cars like to make their occupants feel cozy in their seats, with snug bolsters in the front. But the SS seats, while comfortable, have a bolster in such a position that I keep thinking I left the armrest flipped up. But, no, the armrest is fixed in the console.
Pushed from behind: It’s the first rear-wheel-drive sedan from Chevrolet in 17 years. Unfortunately for traction, tires have gotten a lot more low profile since then. A short detour onto a gravel road left me slipping a bit.
Looking behind: The rear-vision camera is essential, as the tall trunk and sloped rear window make seeing behind almost impossible. The 8-inch screen clears things up.
Night shift: The interior lighting provides a beautiful glow as one would expect in this price range. The low beams are bright enough to provide clarity of vision.
Fuel economy: The SS actually showed close to 19 mpg in a highway-heavy, foot-heavy week of testing, which I found not too horrible for this acceleration range. It prefers premium fuel, unfortunately.
Where it’s built: Elizabeth, Australia.
How it’s built: Too new for a Consumer Reports reliability rating.
In the end: The SS is a whole lot of fun. If I had the money and nothing better to do with it, I’d give it a shot.
Scott Sturgis, a freelance auto writer, can be reached at email@example.com