By Micah Muzio
Back when General Motors killed Pontiac, we mourned the loss of the G8 sedan, a rebadged version of Australia's raucous Holden Commodore. For the 2014 model year, our sadness turns to triumph as the latest-generation Commodore returns to America, this time as the 2014 Chevrolet SS. Filling a high-performance niche above Chevy's well-regarded Impala, the SS is a full-size, V8-only, 415-horsepower rear-drive sedan built to move...quickly. With fuel-efficiency as an afterthought, the SS competes with similarly hopped-up sedans like the Dodge Charger SRT8 and Ford Taurus SHO. It may not be the cheapest, most efficient or most outrageous performance sedan on the market, but for those who wants a fast car cloaked in an understated sedan package, the SS is a winner.
If you need a car with five seats, plenty of passenger space and a big trunk, but you also feel the need for speed you'll like the Chevrolet SS.
If you prefer performance cars that make bold styling statements, you may not like the 2014 Chevy SS sedan. Subdued sheet metal hints at the SS's speed potential rather than screaming it. For some that's a good thing, for other...not so much.
The Chevrolet SS is brand new to the U.S. for 2014.
Driving Impressions The SS driving experience is defined by the car's 6.2-liter V8 engine, which sends its 415-horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential. In...a straight line, Chevy's big sedan can hit 60 mph in about five seconds. In the corners, direct steering, a taut suspension and sticky tires conspire to deliver very capable handling and, consequently, fun. Really push the handling limits and you're greeted by docile understeer, making the Chevrolet SS a thrilling but manageable car to drive fast. When motoring to the grocery store, that same taut suspension, coupled with thin tire sidewalls, results in a firm ride that's ultimately tolerable, though the sharpest bumps pass from the road to the cabin with merely adequate filtering. Otherwise the 2014 SS works fine as daily transportation, offering good outward visibility, confident brakes and an automatic transmission that changes gears without drawing attention to itself.
COLOR HEAD-UP DISPLAY
With all the talk about driver distraction this is one feature everyone can appreciate. Using the windshield as a mirror, the head-up display transparently places helpful information right in the driver's line of sight.
Included with a 5-year complimentary subscription as part of OnStar, RemoteLink allows owners to lock, unlock, activate the lights and horn, and start their car's engine using a simple app on their smartphone.
As car interiors become more expressive, the 2014 SS bucks the trend with an interior that's black, understated and all-business. Leather trim and suede-like material add visual and tactile interest to the otherwise simple layout while nice materials and well-separated climate and audio controls help create a pleasant, functional space. Front occupants enjoy supportive seats and ample headroom. In back, taller folks are treated to generous legroom but might wish for better head clearance. The 16.4-cubic-foot trunk is sizable, but with fixed rear seats, oversized cargo is limited to whatever can squeeze through the small cabin pass-through.Exterior
The Chevy SS expresses its racy nature subtly. Yes, prominent fender vents, large grille openings, a rear lip spoiler, and standard 19-inch forged aluminum wheels all hint at the performance waiting to be unleashed, but as a whole, the SS glides under the radar. Honestly, we like avoiding unwanted attention but you may feel differently. Out back, you'll find a good sized trunk but, due to the strange lack of an exterior release, accessing it requires reaching in your pocket to operate the key fob.
The 2014 Chevrolet SS is sold as a single trim. And, oh boy, that trim comes absolutely loaded with heated and cooled 10-way power front seats, a 9-speaker Bose audio system, a head-up color display, HID headlights and Chevy's MyLink infotainment with 8-inch touch-screen display and navigation. There's also a wealth of advanced safety gear including forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, side blind zone alert, rear parking sensors, and even a standard automatic parking system.
Look at the option sheet and you'll find only two items: a $900 power sunroof and a $500 full size spare tire that replaces the standard tire sealant and inflator kit. If you want an SS sedan shod in more gear than all the others, you'll need to get your fix from the aftermarket.
The only engine offered is a big, thirsty 6.2-liter V8, so it's no surprise that the 2014 SS sedan is subject to a $1,300 gas guzzler tax. You also only have one choice when it comes to transmissions. The old Pontiac G8 could be had with a manual transmission, but these days if you want an Americanized Holden Commodore, it's going to come with a 6-speed automatic. Console yourself with the fact that it's a good automatic and if you really feel like controlling the gear changes you can always use the standard paddle shifters.
415 horsepower 5,900 rpm
415 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/21 mpg
Taking into account destination charges and the gas guzzler tax the 2014 Chevrolet SS's asking price checks in at a cool $45,770. Toss in the lone sunroof option and you're looking at $46,670. That's not chump change, but it is roughly in line with the more powerful but also heavier Dodge Charger SRT8. The Ford Taurus SHO is even heavier and less powerful than either the SS or the Charger, but it does boast superior fuel economy, the all-weather advantages of all-wheel drive and a much lower $40,805 price tag. For the latest pricing information, be sure to check out Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price. In terms of residual values, the Chevrolet SS sedan is expected to perform very well, holding much more of its value over time than its competitors from Ford and Dodge.