What Was The Chevy SS Sedan?
As the 2014 model year approached, General Motors North America (GMC) felt the time was right for a large V8 rear-wheel drive sedan. (It had been eighteen years since an RWD sedan had been offered). While it offered the Malibu and the larger mid-sized Impala (Buick Lacrosse and Cadillac XTS all had the same frame), GM saw the need for something sporty with power. Prompting their decision was the popularity of the Pontiac G8, which had stopped production when Pontiac collapsed under the financial freefall in 2008. Since the G8 had been a
Holden Commodore product (made in Australia), GM thought it could offer the car again only under a different tag. In 2013, GM unveiled the all-new Chevrolet SS sedan. While the Chevrolet brand already had bonafide sports cars with massive V8s, the company felt rear-drive performance sedans would capture the best of both worlds.
The Only Engine That Mattered
The Chevrolet SS was made with one engine choice, a 6.2 LS3 V8 engine that was being used in the Corvette (C6). The motor produced 415 hp and 415 lb/ft of torque, which was more than enough to move it down the road. The car could motor down the track at 0 - 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and had a quarter-mile time of 13 seconds flat. Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that owners could shift manually with paddle shifters, the Chevy SS sedan blistered the track at 163 mph top speed. The effort put it on pace to compete with the likes of the Mustang GT or the newly revamped Dodge Charger SR-T.
The LS3 V8 was the same engine used as the standard engine in the ‘08 Corvette and was placed into the 2010 Camaro SS shortly after its introduction in the StingRay. Like many LS V8s, the small block engine was designed for performance, with GM using much of its racing experience to develop the intricacies of the motor. Fashioned with an aluminum block and cylinder heads, the LS3 tended to breathe better than many other V8s and was governed by a reputation for dependability and strength.
The Chevy SS engine was fashioned with steel crankshafts with reinforced cylinder walls capable of handling the stresses of higher rpms. With advanced electronically controlled throttles, the sensor at the base of the gas pedal sends signals to the ECU to help control the adequate air and fuel mix.
This SS Car Could Ride
Part of the attraction of the Chevy SS sedan was the improved steel used in the chassis to provide a better ride. The American-bound car had a more substantial suspension to help the electronically controlled power steering. The MacPherson front struts and multilink rear-end suspension helped center the car on the road, and standard Brembo brakes provided upgraded stopping power. The car rolled on 19-inch Bridgestone tires, which gave it good traction on the pavement.
The Interior Was Loaded
The interior of the SS was functional in design, with an integrated center stack that included the updated Chevrolet Mylink infotainment system. The car came with Sirius radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and apps like Pandora - (the car did not have Apple Carplay or Android Auto - which was an exciting new feature in 2014). Ten-way powered leather seats with contrasting stitching offered a luxurious look and the fact that they were heated and ventilated made customers appreciate the amenities.
The car also featured several active safety systems and driver assistance programs like a head-up display, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, forward collision alert, and a rear camera with a cross-traffic warning system. Nearly three-quarters of vehicles manufactured in 2014 were equipped with such safety devices, and most consumers had grown to expect them as standard equipment in their vehicles.
The Chevrolet SS was shipped to dealers in the fall of 2013 with a starting MSRP of $44,470. While owners could opt for a sunroof or a spare tire, no other options were offered. The initial reaction was positive, with several automotive reviews extolling the car’s full-sized dynamics, power, and performance.
GM brought the 2015 SS out with a significant enhancement, Magnetic Ride Control (the application allowed drivers to select various driver modes from Tour, Sport, or Performance options. A six-speed manual transmission was added, along with Brembo brakes to the rear wheels. The upgrades gave the SS a total performance package, unlike anything GM had offered in years.
While GM made some tweaks to the front fascia and suspension systems for the 2016 - ‘17 model, they left the guts of the SS alone for the most part. Unfortunately, by the time the 2017 Chevrolet SS made it to the showroom, a slight uptick in sales was not enough to save the 6.2 liter V8 sedan. The ‘17 model would be the final year for this “Super Sedan.”
Only a little under 13k SS sedans were produced. By the time the last year rolled around, GM had increased the price to just under $50k, which most middle-class Americans couldn’t afford, even though the Chevy SS was a lot of car for the money.
Why Didn’t The Chevrolet SS Sell Better?
One of the reasons that the Chevrolet SS didn’t sell better in 2014 is that most Americans had grown accustomed to the drive, reliability, and fuel economy of four-cylinder engines like the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3. Even though these vehicles didn’t provide nearly the horsepower that vehicles like the Chevrolet SS produced, they also didn’t use up a gas tank just driving across town. The biggest drawback was that the 6.2 liter was not fuel efficient, and most Americans needed better highway mileage.
Another reason had to do with the styling. The Chevrolet was a four-door sedan with aggressive styling, but it looked too much like its Malibu and Impala cousins to warrant much attention. While the Chevy lineup consisted of front-wheel drive cars, Americans had long forgotten the likes of the Pontiac G8 by the time 2014 rolled around. If the public was so captivated by rear-wheel drive big motor sedans, they could just buy a used GXP or ‘05 Bonneville and get all the power they wanted. (A Pontiac G6 with its peppy V6s were also a decent option).
While the Chevrolet SS has many standard features (along with many safety features), the SS was largely built for performance. (There wasn’t much demand for a sedan that could seat five adults and do 0- 60 in five seconds). The car had plenty of torque, but with only one trim level, GM banked on a take-it-or-leave-it mentality, and if it is one thing Americans like - its options.