What's New for 2006
Apparently last year's big power increase wasn't quite enough; the Chevy SSR gets another horsepower increase for 2006, though this time it's only a minor 10-hp blip for a total of 400 hp. The rest of the truck remains unchanged, save for a new two-tone exterior paint option, a new chrome trim package and expanded dealer-sourced accessories.
It's a roadster and a pickup truck all in one. Combining the open-air excitement of a roadster with the utility of a pickup, the Chevy SSR (Super Sport Roadster) features a two-piece power-retractable hardtop that stows vertically between the seats and the rear storage bed, thus allowing open-air motoring while minimizing the room typically lost when a top is lowered.
Exterior styling features a front end that echoes the facade of a 1947 Chevy pickup along with pontoon-style fenders that do the same. Five-spoke alloy sport wheels measure 19 inches in front, 20 inches in the rear and wear 255/45 and 295/40 Goodyears, respectively. The lockable pickup box boasts more load capacity (22.5 cubic feet under the hard tonneau cover) than you'll find in a typical drop-top two-seater. Inside you'll find a symmetrical dash and body-color trim that also recall the "good old days," along with modern touches such as a trip computer and steering wheel-mounted controls for the sound system.
Generous amounts of metallic plastic trim abound, though one could easily mistake it for real aluminum. Under the old-school hood is a 400-horsepower V8 driving the rear wheels through either a heavy-duty four-speed automatic or a six-speed Tremec manual transmission. Built on a 116-inch wheelbase and weighing a chunky 4,760 pounds, the SSR is rear-wheel-drive only. Based loosely on the TrailBlazer platform, the truck features a hydroformed frame (meaning the rails are one piece -- no joints or welds), rack and pinion steering and vented disc brakes all around. While we think a near 5,000-pound two-seater is a bit excessive, we appreciate the unique design of the 2006 Chevrolet SSR and its open-air appeal. And even though it's priced within a couple grand of a base Corvette, the SSR's relative rarity, head-turning style and fun personality should appeal to those who want to drive something different.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
All Chevrolet SSR models come as retractable-hardtop roadsters, offering the security and comfort of a coupe when the roof is raised along with the alfresco experience of a convertible when the top is dropped. There is just a single well-equipped version of the SSR, though an LS Preferred Equipment option package is available for those who desire heated seats, upgraded Bose sound (including an in-dash CD changer) and auto-dimming mirrors. Also available is wood trim for the cargo bed, another tip of the hat to the pickups of the late 1940s.
Powertrains and Performance
The sole powertrain for the Chevy SSR is a 6.0-liter aluminum V8 rated at 400 hp and 400 pound-feet of torque. The big V8 sends the power to the limited-slip rear axle via either a heavy-duty four-speed automatic gearbox or a six-speed manual transmission. The V8's horsepower rating drops slightly to 395 when the automatic is specified. Despite the SSR's truck-based origins, its towing capacity is rated at a relatively meager 2,500 pounds.
Side airbags, antilock brakes and traction control highlight the safety features list, but stability control is not available. Crash test data is unavailable, as the Chevrolet SSR has not been evaluated by the NHTSA and the IIHS.
Interior Design and Special Features
Leather seating and tasteful aluminum-look trim offer modern-day comfort and visual appeal, as does the four-spoke steering wheel that features controls for the trip computer and audio system functions. Touches of nostalgia abound; the automatic's gear selector looks like it could have come from a 1968 Corvette, while an optional row of small gauges mounted down on the console remind one of a Camaro of similar vintage. Passenger space is a bit snug, however; the power seat controls are so close to the door that only child-size hands can operate them without opening the door first.
Accompanied by an exhaust note that would do an old Chevelle SS proud, the SSR's brawny V8 does an admirable job of motivating a vehicle that weighs 700 pounds more than a Caddy DeVille. When hustled along curvy roads, the Super Sport Roadster holds its own, feeling composed if not exactly agile. With an agreeable combination of handling, ride and performance, the 2006 Chevrolet SSR should satisfy anyone looking for a comfortable and stylish cruiser.