Chevrolet SSR – Road Test – Car Reviews – Car and Driver

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Chevrolet SSR – Road Test – Car Reviews – Car and Driver
Chevrolet SSR

Chevrolet SSR

Baseball, apple pie, and one flamboyant convertible pickup.

The Chevrolet SSR has a knack for attracting attention. Some things just do. A bear cuddling with a deer. Anything fluorescent orange. Car and Driver poetry. (Oh, wait, we actually have that in Upfront this month – in case you missed it.)

Extraordinary things seem to get extraordinary reactions.

Chevrolet’s all-new Super Sport Roadster is one of those extraordinary things.

Part roadster, part truck, and part Van Halen, it’s a retro Yankee wrapped in concept-car spandex.

The bow-tie bunch unveiled the SSR concept three-and-a-half years ago at the 2000 Detroit auto show, where reaction to the truck was beyond positive. Us car guys even liked it so much that we put it on our April 2000 cover. Chevy quickly got the hint: Build it, and they will come.

For 2003, Chevy hopes 3500 Americans will come, followed by 14,000 to 15,000 in ’04.

We give Chevy its due props for keeping the SSR’s final design very close to the concept’s, maintaining the show truck’s wild edginess as well as its heritage to 1947-53 Chevy trucks. Designed entirely on computer, the neoclassic SSR features the concept’s huge flared fenders, rakish windshield, and 19- and 20-inch wheels front and rear, respectively, all of which make it hard to distinguish the show and street versions.

There are minor differences, of course, such as the relocation of the side mirrors from the concept’s upper A-pillars to the production’s doors, the addition of side markers, and the removal of the sweeping metallic band from the concept’s tailgate. But otherwise, it’s as if Chevy designers were afforded the luxury of telling the engineers, All done – gone fishin’!

Chevrolet SSR

Although it’s not surprising to see the big wheels on the production vehicle – after all, many cars roll on dubs these days-it is surprising, impressive really, that the gargantuan fenders made it to the assembly line. Developed by Fuji Dietec Corporation, the fenders are made using deep-draw Grade 5 steel in a process called inverted toggle draw, which stamps the fenders with as much as 18 inches of draw, or depth, of the formed area.

Chevy claims the process is cost-effective, although we have our doubts, considering the SSR opens at $41,995 while using cost-cutting corporate underpinnings. Pricey or not, we like the fenders’ steroidal effect, and that they can be used for picnics, tanning hides, and even demonstrating Ginsu knives.

Chevy opted to use steel sheetmetal rather than composite panels like the ones on the Corvette because they’re easier to paint-match and they make for a stiffer structure. And like the Vette, the SSR uses hydroformed steel side rails to anchor its frame. For the SSR’s frame, Chevy started with a TrailBlazer EXT boxed unit, cut 13 inches from the midsection and about four inches from the front end, and then welded it back together and added enough crossmembers to total eight.

But whereas a Corvette convertible feels as solid as granite, the SSR resides more on the pumice end of the spectrum and as a result suffers more shakes and shimmies over cratered Michigan roads. The structure feels stiffer than a T-Bird’s and noticeably tauter than a Prowler’s, but it trails the best convertibles’ by a fair margin.

The SSR borrows much more than just its frame from the TrailBlazer. Chevy’s mid-size sport-ute also donates its 5.3-liter V-8 engine, four-speed automatic, rack-and-pinion steering system, four-wheel disc brakes, and unequal-length control-arm front and five-link solid-axle rear suspensions. Compared with the TrailBlazer EXT, the SSR presses the pavement with 300 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque (versus 290 and 325), a faster 16.0:1 steering ratio (versus 18.5:1), and a suspension tuned for boulevard cruising.

We mention boulevard cruising because Chevy did-over and over again. And for good reason. The SSR does indeed cruise with the best of them, be it at Vero or Venice Beach. At a 60-second stoplight, you have enough time to raise and lower the ASC-built power-retractable hardtop, which makes for a great icebreaker with any bikini babe who happens to be blading by.

It drops via a center-console-mounted button, stacking neatly between the cab and cargo bed. The process is relatively quick, if a bit noisy, and allows enough time to feed the booming Bose stereo some Meat Loaf. Cruising never came so good.

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