2014 Chevrolet SS Full Test

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2014 Chevrolet SS Sedan

(6.2L V8 6-speed Automatic)
  • 2014 Chevrolet SS

    2014 Chevrolet SS

    It's got Australian heritage, but the Chevy SS is all-American at heart. | December 18, 2013

34 Photos

The Half-Price M5. Now From Chevrolet

America, it seems, remains bent on ignoring some truly good stuff. Stuff like wagons, diesels and Parker Posey, not to mention big, fast, domestic sedans like the new 2014 Chevrolet SS.

This is, after all, the sort of car that built this country. Heck, it's the car that built Chevrolet. So there's some irony in the fact that the Chevrolet SS sedan is assembled in Australia, not to mention that it's sold in that country as the Holden VF Commodore.

But there's no irony in the fact that the Chevy SS is a for-real driver's car and a genuine people hauler. After all, its hard parts are the same as those of the 2008 and '09 Pontiac G8, which was a fun and respected machine. But you may already know that. What you don't know is how it drives, how it rides and whether it's worth the asking price. We're here to tell you it does all of the above better than you might think.

2014 Chevrolet SS

Will Hold Its Own Against the BMW M5
With 48 percent of its mass on the rear axle, the SS has physics on its side when it comes to spreading out the load of hard driving. Also aiding that task are standard 19-inch Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires: 245/40 up front and 275/35 out back. Along with the balanced chassis, these meats aid the SS in a 0.92g circumnavigation of our skid pad, making it marginally less grippy than the wildly athletic and more costly 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport sedan.

The SS confidently slipped through our 600-foot slalom at 68.8 mph while exhibiting a level of control more often demonstrated by cars lighter than the SS's 4,016 pounds. Also consider that both of these handling numbers are virtually identical to those of the last BMW M5 we tested.

Electrically assisted steering is used, but it hasn't dulled this sedan's responses compared to more traditional hydraulic setups. In fact, one of the SS's biggest strengths is steering so well endowed with feedback that we'd confidently toss the big sedan into a powerslide with our mother-in-law in the passenger seat.

2014 Chevrolet SS

A Little Bit of Corvette Under the Hood
GM's proven LS3 V8 powers the 2014 Chevrolet SS. It was used in the last-generation Corvette and in this application it's rated to produce 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. A standard 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission snaps off downshifts with aggressive rev matching actuated by wheel-mounted paddles. Power hits the ground through a clutch-type limited-slip differential, which also comes as standard equipment.

It's disappointing but not surprising that Chevy's latest Gen 5 direct-injected LT1 power plant isn't found under the SS's hood. Steve Manson, the SS's program development manager, told us that the LS3 met the car's power targets and the program's budget.

The use of the older engine became less of a downer after the SS ripped off a 13.2-second quarter-mile at 107.4 mph at our test track. In the process it hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds (4.7 seconds with a 1-foot rollout like at a drag strip). That's a fast sedan, new V8 or not.

It has no trouble slowing down either. Four-piston Brembo calipers coupled with 14-inch front rotors combine to consistently haul the SS down from 60 mph in 110 feet with no fade.

All that and the engine still managed to match the EPA's combined fuel economy rating of 17 mpg (14 city/21 highway) after 475 miles of driving.

2014 Chevrolet SS

A Firm Ride That You Will Like
But it's not the powertrain that validates the Chevy SS to enthusiasts and family haulers alike. Rather, it's the chassis — MacPherson struts up front and a multilink arrangement in the rear — that deserves attention. Sure, these are essentially the same hard parts that have been around for the better part of the last decade in various Australian and American models. But here they've been retuned specifically for hard-charging-sedan-loving Aussies.

Wait, what?

Sure, there was development work done on the SS in the U.S., but this doesn't feel like a sedan tuned for American roads. The SS feels like it's built for shaking off pricey German hangers-on in one quick shot of back-road glory. From behind the wheel, where it matters, the SS is clearly dedicated to just that task.

There's solidity to every response that's becoming more common in GM products and was, for years, the sole domain of the Germans. Now, however, taut dampers and an unyielding structure are the realm of this American performance sedan, a change that makes the SS's ride busier than an equally capable German sedan.

Manson stands by the SS's static suspension tuning, calling it a "solid compromise," but he's not shy in pointing out that GM's Magnetic Selective ride control can be adapted to the SS. He says the car's primary benchmark was the 2014 Dodge Charger SRT8, which comes with two-mode active dampers but lacks a compliant ride and can't match the SS's handling numbers.

2014 Chevrolet SS

This Is Not a G8
If you remember the Pontiac G8's basic proportions you'll likely recognize the SS despite its distinctly different look and feel. The revisions are vast enough that Manson discounts comparisons to former Commodore-platform cars sold in the U.S.

"People like to think because the SS shares hard parts with previous cars that it's the same," says Manson. "But so much is different. We've got an aluminum hood and trunk lid that save 22.1 pounds over the old Commodore, and we save another 27 pounds using high-grade steel in critical areas."

The result of that latter change is a 5-6 percent gain in torsional rigidity. In non-engineering-speak, that means the chassis flexes less, which contributes to the more precise handling.

2014 Chevrolet SS

Spacious, High-Quality Interior
Possibly the most easily appreciated differences are inside the 2014 Chevrolet SS. Leather-wrapped trim covers the dash and door panels. The heavily bolstered leather seats offer suede detailing, and a proprietary thick-rimmed steering wheel adds a sense of purpose. There's an 8-inch touchscreen display for navigation, audio and other functions, plus two knobs to manage dual-zone climate control.

Possibly the only interior component of the G8 that remains is its biggest strength: ample rear-seat room. Whether you plan to haul full-size adults or install child seats you'll find enough space to accommodate your needs. Rear access, thanks to wide door openings, doesn't hurt, and neither does a massive 16.4-cubic-foot trunk.

Front collision and lane departure warning systems as well as Automatic Parking assist — which manages steering during parallel parking maneuvers — are standard equipment on the SS. Only two options are available: a $900 sunroof and a $500 full-size spare tire.

2014 Chevrolet SS

A Smoking Deal
In probably the least fortunate car-launch timing in history, GM announced — just as SS sedans rolled onto dealer lots this month — that it plans to close the Elizabeth, South Australia, plant that builds the Chevy SS in 2017.

Does this mean the end of the SS before it's even had a chance to get started? We have no idea. After driving the 2014 Chevy SS we sure hope it finds a way to stick around. With a starting price of $44,470, the SS is a solid value among large performance sedans. Our test car fitted with both options, and including the $1,300 gas-guzzler tax, totaled $47,170.

That's no small price for a Chevrolet sedan, but compare its capabilities to the competition and the value is clear. At that price, America's wholesale rejection of good stuff (especially the V8-powered rear-drive sedan) looks even sillier.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Comments

  • 1krider1 1krider1 Posts:

    The lack of a Camaro pricetag and a manual transmission makes the SS a COMPLETE FAILURE.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    Okay, I actually really like the car. A couple of things really bothered me in the article though. "But so much is different. We've got an aluminum hood and trunk lid…” Wow, HUGE difference! I replaced a quarter of the siding on my house, so much about the house is different now. Please don't insult my intelligence. Next is a tout on a 5% increase in torsional rigidity, not irrelevant, but this will probably be imperceptible to anybody driving, so I'm not sure why the guy is making a point of choosing that over other information to tell us.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    Stops, goes, turns! Great write up detailed all the things I wanted to know. I wish I could get one--I missed out on the G8 GT (the GXP was too expensive for me). Now this one is in the GXP category. Braking distance on this 2 ton car is incredible. What a great road trip car this would be!

  • ed341 ed341 Posts:

    So, like the G8, this car is essentially DOA? P.S. Please Chevy do something about that gold bowtie. Make it black or blue or gray...I see it and I still think "rental car." And it's your own fault for making pathetic cars for years.

  • boff_ boff_ Posts:

    The USA is missing out on a few more notable things, like universal health care, metric, and the Chevrolet Orlando. These are all things that we Canadians are lucky to have, but we can't have the Chevrolet SS. Can a trade possibly be arranged???

  • 06sti 06sti Posts:

    (sorry in advance for the political remarks below) Your universal health care is great, boff -- until you get sick. You keep it and we'll keep the SS thanks ;) I would trade our POTUS for your metric system though...

  • A bit dated to be sure. Not aggressive enough front end (should have gotten the nose from the new impala IMO), maybe a touch bland everywhere else on the exterior. But.. for 45K, is there a better, more capable new car out there? I really like it.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    The US health care system is great--until you can't afford the insurance or get rejected for pre-existing conditions, or get your [non-permissible content removed] bankrupted for having the nerve to come down with a serious illness. Ain't no system perfect ;) About that beautiful SS, though. Marvelous looking car inside and out and I want one. But is anyone really surprised that this won't do well in the American market? Sedans under $30K are golden. Anything over that had better be a CUV/SUV/pickup if it is going to sell volume. Or wearing a more prestigious badge so you can look good during your 3-year lease. There just isn't much demand or room in most budgets for a $44K family sedan that drinks fuel like an F150. Sedan shoppers with $44K are more likely to appreciate a BMW or Audi badge than a 4-door Corvette whose capabilities would be lost on them. That's a bummer, but probably reality. I don't see many Charger R/T Hemis at $33K, don't expect to see half as many SSs.

  • I really like it, a lot. But, that price is just about $10k too much. Seriously, they couldn't have trimmed it back maybe $5k just to keep it in the $30's? Hard to justify an SS when you can get a slightly used M5 for about the same price. And, I agree about that gold bowtie; black, black chrome, or some other subdued color would look much better. Not sure my wife could get over the stigma of the years and years of crappy GM products and seriously consider us getting one (it is half hers). Regarding healthcare: When has it *EVER* been a good idea to have more government involvement in anything, and when has it *EVER* made anything better? Why not a pool of uninsurable people that insurance companies are required to insure based on the number of people in the pool and the number of regular customers they have? Let govt monitor the pool and make sure all of the companies are doing what they should, which is about the only thing that govt does remotely well.

  • joefrompa joefrompa Posts:

    Surprised the acceleration and gas mileage isn't better. 415hp out of a 6.2 liter and only a 13.2 quarter mile? My 13 year old M5 does a hair better with a 4.9 liter v8 putting out 394hp. And the fuel economy - GM's v8's have always gotten very nice highway mileage but it's not happening here. Not sure why. And again, it matches my 13 year old BMW engine. That all being said, I pray this vehicle makes it to the U.S. -

  • "A Promise Fulfilled" - Wasn't it GM manager Bob Lutz who stated that the Pontiac G8 was too good to be killed off? He stated that the G8 would return under a different name. Respect to GM for following through. The styling, price point and prestige (when compared to the imports) are debatable, but I think that this is a beautifully executed car. Import luxury sport sedans of similar power, performance, roominess and features are easily $10K more (if you are a "status worshiper", this car is not for you). My only other observation is this - Perhaps a lesser version of this car could be offered with the GM 5.3 liter V-8. This smaller engine might contribute to slightly better fuel economy, lower curb weight and a lower price point. The new LT1 V-8 (C7 Stingray) represents some of GM's latest and greatest and might drive the price of the SS significantly higher. Once again, great car.

  • vroom2 vroom2 Posts:

    I just love the forum talk on this car. After wailing about how GM and Ford weren't bringing their old school RWD sedans over from Australia they immediately criticize them when they do. As for 1krider1, so GM gives you a full size LS3 powered RWD sedan with a Cadillac quality interior for half the price of the German makers and you complain about the price? That type of quality and performance has never been the price of a college car like the Camaro and never will - no matter what badge it wears.

  • As joefrompa said, I am a bit surprised at the low gas mileage figures; my LS1 '99 C5 with a 6 spd got ~30 mpg on the highway, and most of the newer GM engines (LS-based) usually get decent numbers comparatively speaking. Oh, and glad they upped the interior quality lately, that has always been one of my main GM issues but these new ones look pretty good.

  • grc82_ grc82_ Posts:

    As one of the few guys on this fourm that owns and drives a G8 GT every day for the last 4 years I can't imagine why anyone would drop 45-50K on one of these cars. I love my car but there are better cars out there for 50 large, especially if you are willing to buy something with 10-15K miles on it thats hardly used (which is how I bought the G8). Just to throw out a few ideas the ATS-V will be better and likely come in at ~50K, and I would guess that even the redisgned Genesis with AWD and the 5.0L V8 would be a better overall car than this with the drivetain advatange and additional features like the lexicon stereo, and additional warranty that chevy doesn't offer. I love my G8, plan to drive it for many more years but its not a worth that kind of money even with the updated interior and 6.2L engine. I will also keep my Canadian health care for all of you jokers that want to trade the SS for it. My dad had bypass surgery and a hip replacement in the last two years and didn't pay a penny.

  • Interesting that "this doesn't feel like a sedan tuned for American roads". Australian interior weather and roads are similar to SW America, so Calif, Texas, etc. should be OK for SS. Perhaps Edmunds should buy SS for a long term test and see how it fares on road trips to NW, USA etc?

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    This would be a good candidate for a collector's car in a few decades.

  • lions208487 lions208487 Posts:

    GM didn't use the LT1 engine or 8 spd because it wasn't cost effective? Seriously! GM you should have let the bean counters determine a limited model release, because this car is good, but could have been great.

  • 4wpeelin 4wpeelin Posts:

    Canada's health care is so great, the Canadian Prime Minister had a cardiac operation in the United States. Hmmm........

  • coolb944 coolb944 Posts:

    I really like this car, and was impressed with it when I sat in one at the LA Auto Show. The only thing I would change, is to make some of that equipment it comes with standard as optional. I personally would buy this car, and just not option it with the lane departure warning, park assist, etc. I don't want that stuff. It adds complexity and cost to the vehicle, when I'm perfectly happy just being a vigilant driver and parallel parking myself.

  • LOL, and trust me, your dad paid, or you did, or your neighbor, or whoever, but *someone* paid. Ain't nothin' free in this world, not even ObamaCare; or should that be, ESPECIALLY ObamaCare.

  • jeffinoh jeffinoh Posts:

    Wow, Chevy has a lot of cars. I don't really see a mandate for this one. Did anybody buy it as a Pontiac? The media loves RWD sports cars, but how many do buyers really want? I'm sure its nice, but hey, I liked the last GTO which was a flop.

  • grc82_ grc82_ Posts:

    In Canada we accept that everyone pays taxes that support the health care system for everyone. It's not perfect but works well most of the time for most people. As for Canadians getting operations in the US this happens from time to time when beds or specialty surgeries aren't availble due to demand or some other factor. That being said we have longer life expectancy, a fraction of the infant mortality, and more healty living years on average than the US so no rationally thinking Canadian would ever trade our system for yours. This is also true for health care outcomes in pretty much every european country.

  • Sorry, but your facts are off grc82. Great that you like your socialized HC, good for you. America is different, and I would never want your system. Oh, and most of those european countries are bordering on bankruptcy. To wit: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sallypipes/2011/12/19/the-ugly-realities-of-socialized-medicine-are-not-going-away-3/

  • The problem with the SS is that the Impala looks much better. Performance isn't enough. All the German sedans look better. The Chrysler/Dodge twins look better.

  • stonehammer stonehammer Posts:

    its like deja vu all over again

  • grc82_ grc82_ Posts:

    markinnaples - America is different. They pay 3X more for all healthcare related services and have lower life expectancy and worse healthcare outcomes than any other G8 nation. That's a fact, but I am sure you will find some tea bagger magainze that will dispute it. Your comment on european bankruptcy is also funny considering the USA is printing trillions of dollars every year and most of the debt is owned by the Chinese.

  • joe_scuba joe_scuba Posts:

    This is another effort by GM to bring an Aussie car to the US and sell it and an American Icon, Remember the GTO, and the G8 even the Camaro is made in Canada. How about GM builds an American (US) Icon in the USA what a novel comcept

  • maxx18 maxx18 Posts:

    The gas guzzler tax is the perplexing part of this car. Not only is GM not offering a decontented version of the car, but they are saddling consumers with the cost of not using the more modern DI LS motor available in other GM models. Why? I'm sorry, but no matter how good the car is, this thing looks like a loser out of the gate. Good thing they have fleet sales!

  • insideliner insideliner Posts:

    @06sti Except Canadians, don't have to wait until they get reall sick to see a doctor. @preventivemedicine

  • sharpend sharpend Posts:

    Wait a couple of years and buy a used one CHEAP!

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2014 Chevrolet SS in VA is:

$172 per month*
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