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Monday, June 10, 2013

2014 Chevrolet SS

The timing seems a bit odd--for General Motors to bring back the rear-wheel-drive V-8 performance sedan this year, just as automakers are rejiggering their powertrain lineups, more carefully than ever, to meet tighter upcoming federal requirements. Yet after 17 years without a rear-drive V-8 sedan, Chevy dealerships are getting exactly that, later this year. 

But the truth is that the new 2014 Chevy SS is going to be a relatively limited-volume offering--more of a sedan mate to the Camaro, and a spicier alternative to mainstream sedans like the Malibu and Impala.

If you squint just a bit and feel like you've seen this car before--at least from the outside--you wouldn't be too far off. The SS is essentially a reworked version of the latest VF Commodore SS (the flagship muscle sedan from GM's Austrailian division, Holden), which in its previous generation version made it Stateside as the Pontiac G8. And it's essentially a refined, more aggressively styled iteration of the Chevrolet Caprice PPV that's been sold for police fleets.

With staggered wheels, a low, wedgy shape, and a tapered, teardrop-like greenhouse, the new SS looks both muscle-car-like and sleek, while the big bow-tie grille calls it out as a Chevrolet. Inside, the SS has more of a cockpit-like layout than other current models from the Chevy stable (with ice-blue lighting).

The 2014 SS will be powered by a 415-horsepower, 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 (yes, that's the Camaro's engine), with a six-speed automatic transmission (no manual) helping deliver power to the rear wheels. Acceleration times to 60 mph will take just five seconds, or a bit less. Steering-wheel shift paddles will be included, and strong Brembo brakes will be standard. Expect balanced, top-notch handling and vehicle dynamics, thanks to a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution, a multi-link rear suspension, and an effort to keep the center of mass low. Forged aluminum wheels with Z-rated tires also call out some serious performance intent.

Based on what we know about the SS and its heritage, expect a rather firm, performance-car ride that's just compliant enough provided the pavement isn't too rough. Hydraulically damped bushings for the suspension, and rubber isolation in back, should help keep the cabin relatively quiet from road noise, however. Very aggressively bolstered sport seats look set up to hold you in place on the track of your choice (or just while you're doing burnouts).  Back seat space was surprisingly ample with the G8, and we expect that to carry over here.

The SS will be loaded with active-safety features, including standard forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind-zone alert, and rear cross traffic alert, and a rear vision camera. There are also eight standard airbags, including knee bags for the driver and front passenger.

Feature-wise, the SS will also be the first Chevrolet to feature Automatic Parking Assist, which will help steer you into a parking spot. Leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated-and-ventilated front seats, keyless access, push-button start, remote start, a head-up display, and 220-watt Bose audio are all included. So is Chevrolet MyLink, which has an eight-inch color touch screen and can help manage hands-free conversations, media, and infotainment apps through a connected smartphone.

The SS will reach dealerships later this fall, and while it does have an entry price ($44,470), Chevrolet hasn't revealed all SS details yet. Check back soon for more information on features, fuel economy, and performance, as well as, eventually, firsthand impressions on what this new super-sedan is like to drive.

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