2014 Chevrolet SS Review and Quick Spin
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Chevrolet discontinued the Impala SS after the 1969 model year, resurrecting it 25 years later as a 1994 model. Now, two decades after that momentous occasion, the 2014 Chevrolet SS arrives as the first rear-wheel-drive Chevy sedan since the last 1996 Impala SS rolled off the assembly line.
Sheesh, Chevy, make up your minds already. Do you want a rear-drive, full-size 4-door with a V-8 engine, or don’t you?
If you do, then you need to get this new 2014 SS model in front of more people who have between 40 and 50 grand to spend on a new luxury performance car. It’s pretty terrific, but the price tag is steep and people with this kind of cash typically aren’t interested in a set of wheels wearing a Chevy bowtie badge.
My bet, though, is that if they drove one, and considered the SS in the proper context, they’d discover a genuine bargain.
2014 Chevrolet SS Review and Quick Spin: About Our Test Car
Chevrolet doesn’t offer buyers much in the way of choice when it comes to the 2014 SS sedan. This car is equipped one way, loaded with everything except a sunroof, a full-size spare tire, and some other stuff you don’t need. You can choose between five exterior colors, but you’d better like a black interior. The only wheel available is a 19-inch forged aluminum design with a polished finish.
Standard equipment includes Chevrolet MyLink connectivity with an 8-inch color touchscreen display, a Bose premium audio system, a dual-zone automatic climate control, and six months of free OnStar services. Leather sport seats with suede microfiber inserts are standard, offering 10-way power adjustment up front, as well as heating and ventilation. Keyless Access passive entry with push-button starting, a heads-up display, remote engine starting, Automatic Parking Assist, and a long list of safety-related features are also standard.
Plus, thanks to Chevrolet Complete Care, all scheduled maintenance visits for the first two years or 24,000 miles are covered, and the 2014 SS includes a 5-year/100,000-mile roadside assistance plan with courtesy transportation in the event that your car needs unexpected repair.
My test car was painted Silver Ice Metallic, had the power sunroof ($900), and came to $46,670. As this review is written, Chevy is offering a $500 cash rebate or long-term, low-rate financing, but don’t expect to pay much below invoice for this relatively rare machine.
2014 Chevrolet SS Review and Quick Spin: Styling and Design
The 2014 Chevy SS is what once was known as a Q-ship, a stealth performance car that looks innocuous enough until it’s rushing past you on its way to extra-legal speeds. Chevy dresses it up with typical body kit enhancements, as well as trendy chrome-trimmed vertical side vents in the front fenders, and installs both HID headlights and LED running lights. This is a good looking car, but the upper and lower grilles, separated by a blacked-out center bumper insert, strike me as unresolved to some degree.
If an interested buyer takes a pass on the Chevy SS, and it’s not because of the car’s fuel economy estimates, the reason is likely related to the over-decorated interior. The suede microfiber dashboard trim with red stitching and red embroidered “SS” lettering is the worst offender, looking like a cheap, aftermarket dash cover that somebody might purchase at a state fair. There’s lots of bright bling on the outside and shiny metallic trim on the inside that could stand to be toned down, and hard plastic dashboard, center console, and roof pillar trim does the car no favors.
It wouldn’t take much more investment to make the SS worthy of genuine luxury territory in terms of materials, but as Chevrolet has historically demonstrated with the Corvette, the company would apparently rather save a few bucks than just do it right.
2014 Chevrolet SS Review and Quick Spin: Comfort and Cargo
Thanks to crisp and clean styling, the Chevy SS doesn’t look like a full-size car, but it is. The heated and ventilated front seats are exceptionally comfortable, and the back seat supplies lots of legroom, plenty of thigh support, and heating and air conditioning vents. Soft touch material is used almost everywhere you might come into contact with the interior, except the sides of the center console and the glove compartment door.
Thanks to its cube-shaped, 16.4 cu.-ft. of cargo space, the SS model’s trunk is quite accommodating. I loaded a full-size stroller with no problem, and a compact stroller fit along with two full-sized suitcases and other gear.
The trunk opening is on the small side, though, and the liftover height is relatively high. Gas-charged support struts don’t impede on cargo space, but also make it virtually impossible to swing the lid shut using the interior handle without giving it one final push with your palm on the dirty paint. To expand cargo capacity, a wide pass-through is included, but this car’s rear seats do not fold down.
2014 Chevrolet SS Review and Quick Spin: Features and Controls
Once you’re in the driver’s seat, you’ll find yourself facing a flat-bottom steering wheel that is excellent to grip and which is equipped with paddle shifters. Controls feature a pleasing finish and a solid feel when used. Some markings are not instantly discernable, but you quickly acclimate.
With the driver’s seat set to my preferred position, I found the speedometer hard to read, partially obscured by the steering wheel. Plus, the markings are small, making it more difficult for my aging eyes to see them. Thankfully, a heads-up display is standard for this car, so this is a non-issue.
Chevrolet MyLink is standard, too, an infotainment system combining sensible buttons and knobs combined with a big color touch screen with virtual buttons. MyLink includes Bluetooth calling and music streaming, text-message alerts that allow you to listen to a message and reply with a preset message, Siri Eyes Free technology, Internet radio, and voice recognition capability. A USB port is located in the center console.
Oddly, the Chevy SS is equipped with a standard Automatic Parking Assist system that steers the car into a parallel parking space while the driver operates the pedals and transmission. This strikes me as showmanship for showmanship’s sake. It is really easy to see out of this car, plus it has parking sensors and a reversing camera. If you think you need Automatic Parking Assist, you probably ought to be shopping for a different car.
Thoughtfully, Chevrolet supplies auto-down operation for all four windows, and auto-open for the sunroof, but only the front windows offer auto-up closing. Seriously, how much extra would it have cost to provide auto-everything? I’d rather have that than I would Automatic Parking Assist.
2014 Chevrolet SS Review and Quick Spin: Safety Matters
One benefit of making everything standard and charging a commensurate price is that all the available safety technology is included on every version of the car. And so it is with the 2014 Chevy SS, which had not been crash-tested as this review was written.
Every SS includes eight airbags, stability control, a reversing camera, front and rear parking assist sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and OnStar services including Automatic Crash Response. In my opinion, this list represents the best and most useful of modern safety technologies.
2014 Chevrolet SS Review and Quick Spin: Driving Impressions
OK, let’s talk about what it’s like to drive the Chevy SS. The 6.2-liter V-8 is thirsty, yes, but it sounds terrific bellowing through big, purposeful, dual 3-inch exhaust outlets and supplies impressive power. Thanks to 415 horsepower and 415 lb.-ft. of torque, the SS gets to 60 mph in 5 seconds, according to Chevrolet.
That strikes me as believable. Punch the accelerator pedal, and the SS effortlessly gathers speed. A standard limited-slip rear differential helps the SS scream out of corners, the rear end remaining securely planted and the 19-inch performance tires maximizing traction.
Exercise the SS often, and there is a penalty to be paid in terms of fuel economy. My combined-driving average was 16.9 mpg, slotting in right under the EPA’s official 17 mpg rating. Still, due to a city rating of 14 mpg, the SS earns itself a big, fat, $1,300 gas-guzzler tax. It sure would be nice if this car came with, say, the twin-turbo V-6 installed in the Cadillac CTS Vsport, which makes more horsepower and more torque than the Chevy’s V-8, and is rated 16/18/24.
But then, maybe I’m missing the point here, eh?
The V-8 is bolted to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Sport and manual-shift modes. The Sport mode identifies when the car is driven aggressively, then after several moments switches to a more aggressive performance shift algorithm complete with rev-matched downshifts. When you let up on the accelerator, it takes awhile for the software to recognize that perhaps you’ve come upon a friendly police officer, and the car revs loudly until determining that an upshift or two would be wise. The paddle shifters are large enough and satisfying enough, but frankly I preferred using the stick’s manual shift gate with its intuitive shift pattern.
When I first started driving the SS, the weight of the electric steering felt artificially heavy just off center, but I quickly acclimated and, honestly, after a few minutes of driving, didn’t even notice it anymore. When thrashing the car, the steering proved outstanding: fast, precise, and accurate. These traits allowed me to make finely tuned corrections without any problem.
The Chevy SS rolls on staggered-width, 19-inch, forged aluminum wheels wrapped in 245/40 front and 275/35 rear Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer performance tires. Driving hard on one of my favorite roads in the world, they emitted zero squeal and provided extraordinary grip.
It was a very hot day, though, and the heat, combined with hard and frequent use, taxed the Brembo braking components. The Chevy SS has 4-piston, 2-piece aluminum front calipers and 14-inch front discs, but while descending from nearly 2,000 feet of elevation on a 90-degree day they faded a bit toward the end of a lengthy run.
The car remained beautifully balanced, though, thanks in part to a weight distribution measuring nearly 50/50 front-to-rear. The performance-tuned MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension provides an agreeable blend of ride comfort and communication with the road surface, and the SS leans gently into a corner in consistent, predictable, athletic fashion, making it easy to take corners with gusto. However, this is a loud car on the highway thanks to exhaust boom, road rumble, and wind noise.
2014 Chevrolet SS Review and Quick Spin: Final Thoughts
To understand the 2014 Chevrolet SS, you need to consider it in proper context. This is a Chevrolet in name only, the evidence of such limited to the car’s bowtie emblems and some hard plastic bits and pieces on the inside. Had GM spent another grand on the cabin, it could easily wipe those Chevy badges off and install a wreathless crest on the grille. This is, in nearly every sense, a genuine luxury performance car.
I’m not kidding when I say that I’d much rather own this Chevy than something like a more expensive and bone-stock E350 with a Sport styling package. Especially in L.A., where any nitwit with a pulse and a decent paycheck can lease a Benz, the SS really stands out as the more thrilling and exclusive automobile.
And that, my friends, makes this Aussie-built sedan my new favorite car from GM. I mean, the Corvette Stingray is pretty special, and the Cadillac CTS is a damn good attack on the midsize luxury sedan market, but the Chevy SS provides the brashness of the ‘Vette with the refinement of the Cadillac, all at a lower price.
In my book, that makes the SS undeniably compelling. Great job, Chevy.
Chevrolet provided the 2014 SS Sedan for this review
2014 Chevrolet SS photos by Christian Wardlaw
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