By on January 11, 2017

2015 Chevrolet SS front

Unless your local police force harbors a crop of non-conformists, it’s easy to believe rear-drive Chevrolet sedans bowed out in the 1990s.

Of course, that’s not true. General Motor’s Australian Holden division saw fit to continue sending a limited number of rebadged Commodore sedans our way, long after the Impala and Caprice faded into the history books. Gussied up with a few tell-tale styling cues, the Commodore easily morphed into the performance-oriented Chevrolet SS and fleet-only Caprice PPV. Both models sell in limited numbers on this side of the Pacific, but not for long.

With Holden poised to pull the plug on Australian manufacturing later this year, the old-school Commodore has only months left to live. That means the exotic, badge-engineered American brothers will cease to exist after the 2017 model year.

Confirming a widely known reality, Alan Batey, head of GM North America, announced the end of the SS and Caprice PPV at the North American International Auto Show this week. His words held little hope for rear-drive sports sedan fans.

“Using the old adage, ‘win on Sunday, buy on Monday,’ we decided that in small numbers we’d introduce it the U.S. because we could, frankly, at a pretty low cost,” Batey said, according to The Detroit News. “I would say the vehicle has been really well-received. It’s small volumes, but it’s been really well-received.”

Small volume, yes, but the models saw continued support from a small but loyal following. As the spiritual and mechanical successor to defunct Pontiac G8, sales of the SS grew each year following its 2013 introduction, topping 3,000 units in 2016. It’s easy to see why. Just look around for another rear-drive, V8-powered American four-door with an available manual transmission.

Offered in police guise since 2011, the Commodore Caprice PPV offers the highest top speed (155 mph) of any traditional law enforcement vehicle. Still, it’s a rarity — just over a thousand units trickled into U.S. fleets last year.

With Holden rumored to turn out the lights on local production on November 3rd, 2017, a replacement seems very unlikely for Caprice, Batey said. The Commodore, however, will live on Down Under. For 2018, the model adopts the architecture of the Opel Insignia, which shares its bones with the next-generation Buick Regal.

[Image: General Motors]

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57 Comments on “Say Goodbye to Rear-drive Chevrolet Sedans – Again! – in 2017...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    Buying a Kia or Genesis won’t be so bad, right guys?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “The Commodore, however, will live on Down Under. For 2018, the model adopts the architecture of the Opel Insignia, which shares its bones with the next-generation Buick Regal.”

    There is something wrong about that…

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yep. Shame that’s happening, but then again…the American market had not one, but two chances to keep the Commodore platform alive, and we passed. And it’s not like Americans don’t buy big, RWD cars in sufficient volumes for someone to make them (Charger/300, Genesis).

      Then again, at least here in Colorado (and other cold-weather states), the lack of AWD was a major factor in the G8/SS not selling.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I agree (its a trifecta today!)

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Trifecta? Even with a tune, how does a little Buick Encore replace the Holden G8/SS?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Trifecta as in “a run of three wins or grand events” because this was the third time I agreed with Freed.

            To answer your question, it doesn’t, Buick is essentially gone. RenCen, with its heavy Chinese presence and joint partnerships with Beijing, should be interesting to watch in the Trump presidency.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Looks like he was talking about the next-gen Regal, not the rolling abortion known as “Encore.”

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Ah. Well the previous one was a disaster, I haven’t seen the next one up close yet and I can’t speak to Australian needs or tastes. I think its sad though, because even if its at least mediocre, its no Commodore.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I’d consider a Regal GS if it was cheap enough. Then again, if I need to carry four people in a Buick with a real back seat, I have my old LeSabre.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Freed, about three and a half years ago I was looking to replace my 98 Saturn with a Verano lease so I hit up the local BPG. After being pretty much unwilling to meet the no money down lease terms advertised (I can’t remember the BS they gave me) I left but I noticed an MY11 or 12 Regal advertised there for I believe $14,999. Mind you these POSs started at like 30K, and I believe this was a base model with like 40K, but for a *new dealer* to advertise half off in two to three model years is striking. If I remember correctly those examples were doing 12s on the block at the time.

            The following fall I took my Pontiac in to their service dept bc my key fob broke and I needed a new one programmed. I recall the tech complementing me on the 3800 (I have a GP) and I asked about the Regal. Evidently they were frequently back in for warranty work. IMO the Opel sourced Regal has too many compromises to be worth the reliability headaches in the aftermarket. If one must buy, I’d go to MY14 or later as GM has a historical habit of introducing FUBAR product and then “fixing” it in a few MYs.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Interesting, 28…I’ve heard mixed reviews on the Regal reliability-wise too. The later models seem well sorted out, though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Personally I wouldn’t touch GM car except the Corvette and Holden sourced models after 2010 (and Zeta Camaro if I could see out of it but I can’t so F it). Risk/reward doesn’t add up for me.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @VoGo
            It is an Opel and no it will not. Holden/ GM will have a very hard time selling this.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @28-Cars-Later
      As Australians we think there is something very wrong about that. Opels failed here not long ago, Commodore has always been a RWD platform although Holden did experiment with an AWD Commodore Sedan and Ute. In hindsight not bad, but did not sell, Ute was too expensive and Sedan was too unfamiliar for the Public

      • 0 avatar
        grinchsmate

        There was no sedan. There was a jacked up ute, jacked up wagon, and normal height coupé.

        None of them sold very well. I guess the wagon wasn’t jacked up high enough.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @grinchsmate
          Wrong there was the AWD Commodore.Coupe, which is a sedan in my language.Not a sports car, SUV or Pickup. Yes have been in the Station Wagon. Compared to the Territory , it was too low..AWD Ute had possibilities, but it was expensive compared to the competition
          Adventura it was supposed to compete against the Territory
          http://isthat.info/page/holden-commodore-adventra-
          awd/default.html

          AWD 4 Door Sedan
          http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/01D1229A7AF5329ECA2572100028B802

          • 0 avatar
            grinchsmate

            That link is to a concept car. It never made it to production.

            If you think that a coupe is a sedan then I guess there was a four wheel drive sedan. No one else thinks a coupe is a sedan.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I would love to have one of these, but the local Chevy dealers (the same ones that won’t let you test drive a base Corvette) treat these like unicorns and demand full sticker for them. I also worry about parts availability going forward.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      I don’t think there’s good parts availability now. Regular Car Reviews featured a decommissioned Caprice PPV and the owner talked about waiting to get parts from Australia, and the rigamarole at auto parts stores.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “…the local Chevy dealers (the same ones that won’t let you test drive a base Corvette)…”

      Yep. I sold Chevys in the ’90s, and yeah, we wouldn’t let anyone just walk in off the street and test a ‘Vette either. Why? Here’s a good example – down the street, there was a Toyota dealer that let two yahoos loose in a Supra Turbo for a little Saturday afternoon jaunt. They proceeded to use said Supra as a one-time, 90-mph battering ram against a tree. One of the yahoos died. I knew the guy.

      Hell, I took off in one of the dealership’s Z28s one day during lunch for a little hooning, and damn near put it in a ditch. I figured I could hustle it around corners like my old ’93 Protege twincam. BZZZZZT – wrong answer. It’s real easy for someone who doesn’t know how to drive a powerful, RWD performance car to end up in big, big trouble.

      There’s a reason Chevy dealers make sure ‘Vette prospects are vetted (pun intended), so to speak.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      The parts availability issue isn’t to be taken lightly. GTO and G8 owners have been talking about it for years.

    • 0 avatar
      nvinen

      The good news is that we have heaps of Commodore parts in Australia and likely will for a long time.

      The bad news is that it takes several weeks to send stuff across the Pacific unless you’re willing to pay for air freight (and that might get expensive if the part is heavy).

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Yeah, that’s always the follow-up issue. The dealership found the part in Australia, but it will take 3 weeks to get here. Enjoy driving this courtesy Spark while you wait.

        • 0 avatar
          nvinen

          Maybe some enterprising soul can import a box of the replacement parts that are commonly required for the Chevrolet SS and set up a business delivering them overnight for a moderate markup. Could probably be done from a large garage or small warehouse, of the type that’s often found in small business estates.

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    Ask any Chevy dealer about new SS and they will immediately point to the Camaros.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Which suck… :D

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        See, here’s where the first disagreement happens…

        No, the Camaro doesn’t suck…to drive, anyway. But I’d still take a Mustang over it.

      • 0 avatar
        quaquaqua

        They don’t suck. Are you gonna bring up the “MSM” again, saying REEEEAL media says they’re not competitive? Well, they are excellent cars. They’re just not easy to live with.

        Anyway, the G8 was a beautiful car which didn’t receive adequate support, obviously. The SS is a fantastically-performing car which had an incredibly bland design to go with its high sticker. Not surprising it’s going away. Then again, if all the online fanboys actually put their money where their mouths are, we wouldn’t be in this boat. Ahh, the internet.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Too bad about this but I don’t think I’ve seen even one SS or Caprice PPV in the wild. I’ve seen SS’s – but only on display by Chevy at certain events.

    And, over the past few years, every police vehicle I’ve seen has been either a Dodge Charger or Ford Escape – with the exception of some odd, compact traffic-cop vehicles in inner cities like Manhattan.

    Still a pity, though. It appears there’s no longer room for anything different in our bottom-line, commoditized world. It’s getting more difficult with each passing year to remain an auto enthusiast.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Saw an SS in traffic last week with Holden badges… brought a smile to my face. I guess any big RWD Chevy car from here on out will be a Caddy.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Oh well, see ya. There’s always the Chrysler 300 & Dodge Charger…

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The 1977-96 B-Bodies were the best, most reliable and durable cars GM ever produced. The 1991 restyle killed them. Though happy as hell with my ’84 Buick, 300,000 kilometers with only oil and filter changes, tires, brakes and five water pumps, I couldn’t bring myself to buy a car that looked like a whale that washed up on a beach.

  • avatar
    omer333

    It probably didn’t help that you couldn’t get one of these as a cheaper version with either a six-cylinder or a turbo-four.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Despite all the caterwauling I’ve been reading about the SS being a failure, in reality it was nothing of the sort, because the SS did exactly what it needed to do.

    IIRC, GM had to guarantee certain production numbers in order to get/keep tax incentives from the Australian government. The Pontiac G8 helped until GM pulled the plug on that division, so they needed another outlet for GM Australia production. With Chevrolet wanting/needing a new nameplate for NASCAR, it sort of became an arrangement of convenience. They never intended to sell a lot of these.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Jimal
      GM US cut off what export markets their were for the Holden. They stopped selling them in the ME and Latin America( Brazil) because they had cheaper options. In the UK, the Vauxhall redadged 500hp HSV was competing against European exotica.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    The good news is that, almost no one will miss this car, because almost no one knew it was available. If they sold 3k units last year, that’s roughly one per dealer, which is pathetic. GM didn’t seem particularly interested in promoting the car, and the dealers didn’t seem interested in selling them.

  • avatar
    Paragon

    I actually do see an SS every now and then here in central Ohio. Most often, as I catch a quick glance, I’m thinking: what is that? Then, within a second or so it hits me that it’s an SS, just as it moves out of sight. One time, on a Sunday afternoon, I recognized a bright red Chevy SS at a stoplight on a major highway. As the light changed, I expected to see the car briskly move away as I expected the owner to be a male out enjoying his rare car. What I instead witnessed was a mature lady, perhaps 70-something to 80-something slowly pull away as though the car was a Toyota Corolla.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Heres the problem.

    An ordinary person looks at the size,cost and RWD setup (which matters when your area gets Real Snow) and sensibly drives away in an Impala.

    An enthusiast hits up Autotrader dot com for a used G8 , or a BMW 545i if they’re a gambling addict.

  • avatar
    vstudio

    I have this car and with a manual transmission. It is simply unbelievable. The engine, transmission, and suspension work very well together, the car is a pleasure to drive. I can attest to the fact that it is similar to e39 M5 in spirit, but with all the modern bells and whistles.

    It is extremely sad that such a great car is gone without a viable successor.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I live in Warren. And I have never seen an SS on the road. Saw one at the Chevy dealer. It sat there for 6 months. Might even be there still.

  • avatar
    KM From AU

    CONFIRMED – Last day of Production is October 20 2017

    https://www.wheelsmag.com.au/news/1701/holden-confirms-final-day-for-manufacturing


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