Editor's Note: This week Terry Box is behind the wheel of the 2017 Chevrolet SS. Terry is a Car Pro car reviewer and was the automotive writer for the Dallas Morning News for 23 years until early this year. You can email Terry: firstname.lastname@example.org
All the lines in my mirror seem to point increasingly to four dreary doors – a dour, refrigerator-white sedan, perhaps.
Whoopee. Portrait of a 60-something man and I can’t even utter the words “senior citizen” without stammering.
For the past 27 years, I’ve owned nothing but snorting, rough-riding muscle cars with about as much room inside as your average trashcan.
They fit me well.
Nonetheless, some of my friends think I’m getting a tad too gray for hot red cars. Trade the Boss 302 on something more practical, they say.
Bull-biscuits, I reply.
If the day ever comes when I prefer bowling to black bikinis on the beach – and I sure hope it doesn’t – at least I have a transportation solution in mind.
Give me a low-profile 2017 Chevrolet SS, a sleeper-sedan that avoids jewelry or bling and can blast to 60 in way less than 5 seconds.
As you may know, the SS is a Corvette-powered four-door sedan that looks like a Malibu and handles better than many BMWs. Built in Australia by General Motors’ Holden division, the SS is essentially a high-performance sports-sedan disguised as a traveling-salesman’s special.
I doubt that was the intent. (Holden, by the way, also built the late, great Pontiac G8, another of my favorite all-time door-slammers.)
From about 10 feet, though, the rear-wheel-drive SS really can be mistaken for a grocery-getting Malibu mid-sized sedan.
Just step closer.
The white SS I had recently featured a conventional oval Chevy grille with a big yellow bow tie in the center squeezed by standard-looking dual-projector headlamps.
However, a larger, air-gulping grille resided beneath the bumper and the slightly raised hood wore functional black heat vents on either side – always a good sign.
Meanwhile, a really short overhang up front suggested that the sedan’s Corvette mill might be pushed back for better weight distribution, and flared fenders housed meaty 275/35 tires on silver 19-inch alloy wheels.
Although big doors dominated the SS’ subtle sides, large dual-tip exhausts bristled from beneath each side of the rear bumper and a small lip spoiler resided on the tall trunk.
So, what exactly is this thing? You will know as soon as you push the start button.
The SS’ 6.2-liter, 415-horsepower V-8 – the last-generation Corvette and Camaro engine – fires off with a rich, textured bark that will make your neighbors wonder what in the heck kind of rent car you’re driving.
At idle, the engine settles into a slightly lumpy 600-rpm idle that will make even hard-core hot-rodders at Keller’s Drive-In smile.
It’s the real deal – a muscle car dressed for a day job at the bank.
As you would expect from one of Chevy’s highly respected small-block V-8s, power is everywhere.
Even if you don’t summon a downshift from the 6-speed automatic, a good prod on the accelerator will push you and your passenger into the seats, compliments of 415 lb.-ft. of smooth torque.
Really antisocial, wheel-spinning behavior will result in a 0-to-60 run of 4.6 seconds, according to Car and Driver, swift enough to make a Camaro SS driver sweat.
The tame-looking, two-ton SS also bares its teeth when the road turns twisty, ripping into corners with a fine mix of aggression and well-engineered balance.
Push hard and the SS settles comfortably onto its big tires, drifting lightly with virtually no body-lean.
In addition, the car’s quick steering – though a bit thick at slow speeds – gets livelier with velocity, conveying pretty decent road-feel.
Stay off rough roads if your significant other is strapped into the passenger seat because the SS’ ride can be resolutely firm on choppy neighborhood streets.
Most of the time, though, it’s fine and just part of the high-performance package, which includes mediocre city fuel economy of 14-miles per gallon.
At $49,820, the SS is hardly cheap – although it is at least $10,000 cheaper than a V-8 powered 5-series BMW. Just try not to think about the price too much when you’re inside the SS, its weakest feature.
The Holden sedan that provides the bones and most of the content for the SS is not a new car and it shows some. I thought of the black interior in my SS as business premium.
A utilitarian plastic dash wrapped around a mid-2000s center stack, complete with large climate-control vents crowded up against the display screen.
Plastic is the central theme here. However, all of the controls in the center stack were highly functional buttons or switches, while a band of suede at mid-dash wore a nifty-looking red SS insignia.
The smooth black-leather seats were the highlight – as they should be. They featured supportive bolsters stitched in red and more red SS insignia beneath the headrests.
Moreover, the leg- and headroom in back is good, meaning you might be able to actually pass off the SS as a business sedan and use your car-allowance on it. In fact, if you love sports sedans, you might want to consider emptying out the kids’ college accounts and applying the money to a new SS.
Tell them you’re trying to save them from four years of drunken frat parties.
But the fact is Holden will no longer build full-size sedans after this year and GM has not said what it intends to do with the over-achieving, low-volume SS.
Let’s hope the automaker opts to put the SS on Cadillac’s excellent ATS platform and keeps the unique sedan alive.
Big Don Trump and several thousand of us enthusiasts would appreciate it.
2017 Chevrolet SS
- What I liked most: The impressive mix of muscle and sophistication in the SS’ performance.
- What I would change: Probably the interior, which could use just a dash of Cadillac CTS in it.
- MSRP: Base price, $46,625; as equipped, $49,820.
- Fuel economy: Rated at 14-miles per gallon city/22-mpg highway/16-mpg combined.
- Official color: Heron White.
- Odometer reading when tested: 477 miles.
- Weight: 3,950 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 195.5 inches long/74.7 inches wide/57.9 inches tall.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 18.8 gallons with filler on right side.
- Towing capacity: Not listed.
- 2017 Chevrolet SS in a few words: Car and Driver said it best – “the most underrated sports sedan in America”.
- Warranty: Three-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty; five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
- Final assembly location: Elizabeth, South Australia.
- Manufacturer’s website: Chevrolet