WASHINGTON -- In 1996, Chevrolet had the Impala SS. Now, it's back with another large rear-wheel drive performance sedan.
Over the years, other front-wheel drive sedans have carried on the SS name, but they never lived up to the SS reputation.
Things are looking up with the new 2014 SS hitting the United States. It's a big sedan with a powerful V8 engine, room for five and the ability to handle turns.
The Chevrolet SS Sedan has a name that sounds incomplete, but after 630 miles of driving, I can assure you it's a complete car. The SS is built in Australia, where the V8 and rear-wheel-drive sedans never went away. Holden is a GM subsidiary there. They gave us the 2004-06 Pontiac GTO and the 2008-2009 G8 sedan before Pontiac went away. They also build the Chevrolet Caprice, a police car version that is slightly larger than the new SS.
The big Chevrolet is a premium sedan with heated and ventilated front seats; my wife sat in it for a total of 30 seconds before she named it as one of the better seats in a car. Yes, they were really good seats, but I'm biased since I own a 2004 Pontiac GTO. Those are fit for all-day driving. The SS seats are close, though.
The rest of the interior features include a nice dashboard and standard leather for the seats, shift knob and steering wheel. It feels soft to the touch, has rich-looking materials and plenty of room in the back seats.
However, I wished the rear seats folded instead of just having a small pass through.
Still, the SS Sedan packs some cool tech features, such as a color heads-up display that will give your speed or directions from the NAV system, or even how many G's you pulled on the on-ramp.
It's a cool system that's light years ahead of the older GM heads-up displays. The SS Sedan also has the latest GM MyLink infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, standard NAV and rear-view camera.
If you've driven the Pontiac GTO and G8, gone is the Blaupunkt sound system that's set up for right-hand driving like my GTO.
The automatic parking assist is another cool feature. It's the first Chevrolet to have this system, which helps you parallel park and will even back into a normal spot. You just work the brake and transmission; the car handles the rest.
The best part of the Chevrolet SS Sedan is driving it. With an LS3 V8 from the last Corvette pumping out 415 horsepower, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, the SS moves down the road swiftly, with just enough of that V8 rumble to let you know you're in something special.
Not only can it move quickly in a straight line; the big SS will take a turn and beg for more. The large 19-inch wheel/tire combo holds the big Chevy on the road.
Also, the SS will stop with large standard Brembo front brakes. If you need to hit the highway with the family, the SS is more than happy to cruise quietly and smoothly with only the bigger bumps noticed. Still, it's never jarring.
Holden really knows how to make a fun-to-drive car. They cost much more in Australia than the $45,700 we pay here. Fuel economy is listed as 14 mpg city and 21 mpg. I managed 18.2 mpg over 630 miles. Its price includes a $1,300 gas- guzzler tax.
Chevrolet has finally brought back a rear-wheel drive performance sedan with a V8 and made a special car that's fun to drive.
It even works as a commuter car, with plenty of upscale touches and the soul of a track car when you want to play. Just bring me one with a manual transmission for 2015.
Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.
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