- Glorious V8 power
- Strong brakes
- Shockingly capable handling
- Nicely equipped interior has room for the whole family
- Expectedly low fuel economy
- Touchscreen interface can be slow to respond
To us, the 2014 Chevrolet SS seems like one of those off-the-books sleeper sedans built exclusively at the pleasure of and for use by a General Motors executive. In what other scenario could you imagine transplanting a Corvette's powerful engine into a family sedan, then fitting aggressive transmission gearing, racecar supplier Brembo brakes, a sport-tuned suspension and every single mechanical and electronic option available? Yeah, right, they'll never sell that Chevy here at any price. Or so we thought.
The genesis of the SS can be traced back to, of all places, Australia, where GM's subsidiary, Holden, builds the Commodore full-size sedan. The Commodore did serve as the basis for the short-lived Pontiac G8, but it's the newest, latest version that's being used for the SS. Also in the family is the Chevrolet Caprice PPV, an even bigger version currently only sold to American police departments. So, yes, you could get away with telling your friend as he hops into your SS: "Yeah, it's got a cop motor. It's got cop tires, cop suspension and cop shocks."
Unlike Elwood's old Dodge Monaco, though, and even the G8, the SS is a thoroughly modern and refined vehicle for 2014. Of course, firepower for the rear-drive SS is amply supplied by a 6.2-liter V8 good for 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. But crank around a turn and the SS's impressive stability and driver interaction will have you fully believing Chevrolet's claim that it benchmarked the iconic, early-2000s BMW M5 for handling precision. Inside, the SS is trimmed out with leather and simulated suede sport seats, a driver-oriented cockpit, and a premium infotainment system. And just like legendary American sedans of our past, the SS has ample seating, a large trunk and a sizable fuel tank to devour road trips in comfort.
There are only a few comparable sedans. Both the brawny 2014 Chrysler 300 SRT8 and 2014 Dodge Charger SRT8 supply a similar experience, packing big V8 punches and a big load of features for about the same cost. They also boast a more dramatic presence on the road, though neither can match the SS's blend of handling and ride comfort. As for other choices, Ford's underwhelming Taurus SHO tries to get by with a turbocharged V6, while the often-overlooked 2014 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec features a powerful V8 and perhaps a touch more luxury, but doesn't have the sporting aspirations. Within this group, the SS does the V8-powered large sedan tradition proud. Somewhere, there's a GM executive to thank.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2014
The 2014 Chevrolet SS is an all-new model.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2014 Chevrolet SS is a five-passenger full-size sedan offered in a single, base trim level.
Standard equipment is extensive and includes 19-inch forged aluminum wheels, high-performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, xenon headlights, foglights, heated power mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, remote start, automatic wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats (with power lumbar), driver memory settings, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and leather upholstery. Standard technology features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an automated parallel parking system, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warning, frontal collision warning, a navigation system, a rearview camera, an 8-inch center touchscreen with Chevrolet's MyLink interface, OnStar, voice controls and a nine-speaker Bose sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, and iPod/USB connectivity.
The only major options for the SS are a sunroof and a full-size spare tire mounted on a matching alloy wheel.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The interior of the Chevy SS sedan exudes quality as well as quantity. Leather seating comes standard, and it's set off with high-quality stitching and simulated suede details. Predictably, the accommodations are spacious, and the SS will comfortably accommodate four adults, or five in a pinch.
The instrument panel features a driver-oriented multi-page information panel flanked by two large analog gauges for vehicle and engine speed. The standard head-up display (HUD) is also multi-configurable, and it can project an impressive array of information onto the windshield. The central MyLink touchscreen display is also configurable. The interface is straightforward, and you'll adjust easily to its menu and command structure if you already have a smartphone. However, it can be distractingly slow to respond at times.
Maintaining the tradition of the full-size American sedan, the SS boasts a massive 16.4-cubic-foot trunk that can be supplemented with an optional full-size spare tire.
Standard safety equipment on the 2014 Chevrolet SS includes antilock disc brakes, stability- and traction-control systems, front- and rear-seat side airbags, side-curtain airbags, and front-knee airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.
Furthermore, the SS comes with a standard multi-mode head-up display and rearview camera, along with numerous warning systems, including forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts.
In Edmunds.com testing, the Chevrolet SS came to a halt from 60 mph in just 110 feet.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2014 Chevrolet SS is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine delivering 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission directs that power to the rear wheels.
In Edmunds.com testing, the SS sprinted to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds, which is exceptionally quick for any sedan, be it a high-performance European flagship or a comparable muscle-bound American super sedan. The EPA's fuel economy estimate stands at 17 mpg combined (14 mpg city/21 mpg highway). That's no worse than the Charger SRT8's economy, but you're still going to be paying a lot at the pump.
With all the talk of how large and powerful the 2014 Chevrolet SS is, one might get the impression that it would offer as much finesse and maneuverability as a naval destroyer. Not so. Because the body structure is so rigid, the SS's suspension is able to do the job it was intended to do -- and make the car responsive and confident when it matters. This, along with its impressively stout brakes, helps the SS feel like it's built for shaking off pricey German luxury sedans in one quick shot of back-road glory.
The tradeoff is that the ride is decidedly firm with a busy feel over some types of pavement, though Chevrolet has indicated it might offer its adaptive magnetic-ride shock absorbers (already used on the Corvette Stingray) to improve ride comfort in future model years. Still, both wind and road noise are held to muted levels on the highway so you can hear the reassuring V8 burbling away. Like many modern cars, the 2014 Chevrolet SS has an electrically assisted power steering system. Thanks to careful tuning, the SS's steering provides good feel and precision in this large, rear-drive sedan.
And what more can we say about the SS's centerpiece, its 415-hp V8, other than it has an addictive quality to it? It makes glorious noises, and when you hear them, you can't help but feel almost invincible on your drive to work. At least for the first few days, months or years of ownership, don't expect to meet the government's fuel economy estimates. And don't say we didn't warn ya, either.
A modern take on the classic American rear-wheel-drive V8 performance sedan, the 2014 Chevy SS hauls the mail, no doubt. But it's the car's unexpectedly sharp handling and impressive refinement that make it a winner.