I had been patiently waiting to review this car for the better part of a year. I was so excited to get in it. I loved it at first. But then I realized that it missed the mark. Here is why.
The SS is a performance sedan. It features a 415-hp 6.2 liter V8, rear wheel drive and paddle shifters. All things that should make it a bad ass driver. The problem is that all of this was installed in about the most boring sheet metal imaginable. I love the concept of a sleeper, but the SS just takes it too far. To spend the amount of money required to get into the SS, there should be a little bit of flash. Not one head was turned while driving it. To some, that may be exactly what they want, but most gearheads want something that says “watch out, this one is sneaky”. Case in point- my wife walked out of the house a few minutes after the SS was delivered and said “they gave you another grandma car?” That is too far.
Driving the SS is fun. It has plenty of power, it handles well enough, and it is easy to drive. Until you take the traction control off that is. The way this things launches from a stand still is weird. It blows the tires off with little fanfare. No noise, no exhaust growl, no sliding. It just starts moving forward slower than if it was hooked up. It will bounce off the rev limiter almost immediately, which does one of two things- you shift before that happens, or have to get out of the throttle and then shift. Once you hit second, if, the wheels are spinning, it may decide to suddenly snap sideways with no warning, often at about 70. It’s a bit twitchy that way. If you were new to driving a car like this, it could get you into trouble really fast. If you drive it like a normal person, it a great handling car, but you don’t want to read about how well it handles for a normal person.
Beyond the exterior styling, which is a very personal preference, the biggest complaint I have for the SS is the lack of any performance modes. There is no button that puts it into sport or track mode, and the lack of that feature would keep me from buying this car. The suspension is mushy as delivered. Not minivan mushy, but much looser than you would expect from a performance car. We had planned to test the SS against it’s predecessor- the 1994-1996 Impala SS. I thought that the new SS would destroy it, but I am not so sure. In power and handling, it absolutely would, but the old Impala SS had more trunk and interior space and had more personality. You see a jet black Impala SS today and gearheads stop and look. The 2014 SS doesn’t even register. And that is a big problem. When the Camaro and Corvette are absolutely amazing to look at, the SS is boring, it literally looks at home in a retirement center parking lot.
The SS has a lot of merits, but where it misses are just too big to ignore. I just don’t see it beating out the competitors. Give it a supercharger, a 6-speed stick, square off the front and rear airdams, and maybe a couple of scoops on the hood, and the SS will go from a miss to a hit. Otherwise, this one will die off like the SSR.
When I started project Buttered Toast, we knew it was going to be a cool custom wagon. The headliner was trashed, so 1 decided to make a new one. You can see that story here-
In order to add the last extra touch, I built a custom domelight from wood, bondo and a billet alumnium light pod from Autoloc.com, then I wrapped it with some pearlescent vinyl. If you have ever wanted to know how to work with vinyl, here is the how-to video:
This is one my favorite cars from SEMA. I Had the opportunity to sit down with builder Troy Trepanier for an interview on the build of this ultra-cool 1954 Buick. See the full story on PowerTV.
Wednesday, I had the opportunity to get in Tanner Foust’s Fiesta and take a couple of laps around the SEMA proving grounds. WOW. I had so much fun with this, Tanner is one hell of a driver and other than trying to buckle the anti-submarine belt (the crotch strap) being sucked into a race seat that is half the width of my posterior, it was incredible. I have a video that I will load up soon, but that got left in the rental…
I also saw one of the coolest new cleaning products I have come across in a long time. It is called the Tornador and is basically an air gun that shoots air mixed with a little water to remove stains, dirt, dust, etc from upholstery, paint and even tires. I have some more video of this in action, but again- it’s sitting in the rental and I am hungry, it will have to wait till later.
Update- Youtube finally loaded my drift video! Enjoy watching me make silly faces.
Till then, here are some pics-
A couple of weeks ago, I was in Detroit for the Ford Technology forum. I was able to get an extra day in the Motor City to hang out with the guys from Ford Racing.com and the Mustang marketing group. Part of that meant I got to take one of the 752 Laguna Seca Boss 302s out on the town. I shot great pics at a drive-in theatre and shot some video while driving.
One of the key features of the Boss 302 is the Quad Exhaust. This is a series of 4 exhaust outlets, 2 under the car and two in the back. The under-car outlets open up just enough to let that classic Mustang V8 growl get out while being just this side of street legal. It sounds so good. Check out this video I made while driving the 2012 Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca.
This is Red Dirt Country. Around here you will find the best of the automotive world--hot rods, muscle cars, high-performance tech, and product reviews. If you want real-world tech, home-built rods, and lots of tire-smokin’, fuel burnin’, redneck hijinx, you came to the right spot. Got an idea for a story? Let us know. Have some sweet video of your smoky burnout? Send it over. Either way, there is plenty to see and do on Red Dirt Rodz. Tell yer friends, tell yer family but don’t tell those Prius people, they wouldn’t like it.