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.