Bark's Bites: The Chevrolet SS Is Embarrassing Itself At A Dealer Near You

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth
bark s bites the chevrolet ss is embarrassing itself at a dealer near you

The Chevrolet SS arrived at Chevrolet dealerships all over America last week. Did you notice?



A quick trip to www.chevrolet.com reveals no mention of the brand’s flagship sedan anywhere on the three-page main page slideshow. Bizarrely, it doesn’t even appear under the “Cars” dropdown — I had to click on “Performance” to find it, where its starting price of only seven grand less than a real, live, honest-to-God C7 Corvette is regrettably highlighted.

Chevrolet had a massive, massive ad buy this weekend on both CBS and Fox during the NFL schedule. Surely the SS was featured there, right? Nope — it was all about the Black Friday sale on Cruzes, Malibus, Equinoxes, and Traverses. Nary an SS to be found.

As a former Pontiac G8 GT owner, I saw a few “OMG ITS HERE” SS showroom photos popping up on the G8 owners’ Facebook groups to which I still subscribe. The car looks no better in the showroom than it did in the original press photos, sadly. If anything, it looks worse. The SS is even less visually impressive when compared to its new stablemate, the 2014 Impala. One pities the poor Chevy salesman who has to try to explain the MSRP on the window to the customer his sales manager has insisted he try to upsell to the certain Showroom Poison known as the SS.

“I like this one-how much is it?”

“It starts at right around $44,000, sir.”

“FORTY-FOUR FREAKING THOUSAND DOLLARS?? FOR A CHEVY??”

“Yes, but it has a V8 and—“

“FOR THAT MUCH MONEY I COULD HAVE A CADILLAC! ARE YOU INSANE??”

*The salesperson tries very hard not to look at the CTS further down the Chevy-Buick-Cadillac-GMC showroom*


“Sir, this is a performance sedan.”

“Is that right? Is that why I can’t even order it with a manual transmission?”

“Uhh… how about we finish up the paperwork on that Impala, sir?”

Unfortunately, GM appears to have learned absolutely, positively nothing since the launch of their last gussied-up Holden Commodore. The G8 GT had a cool, Spy Hunter-themed ad and a great tagline: the most powerful car under $30,000. The main thrust of the SS ad campaign appears to have been putting the incredibly un-memorable name of the car on the grille of Jimmie Johnson’s car — keeping in mind, of course, that according to NASCAR, only 15% of NASCAR fans earn more than $100,000 per year. Not exactly the best audience for a car that runs about half a hundo.

The G8 GXP, at least, had a reputation as a killer performance sedan. So, naturally, GM mated the SS’s LS3 to an automatic transmission that makes the SS slower in every way than the GXP was, not even cracking the five-second zero-to-sixty barrier in most tests. Combine unimpressive performance digits with rental-car looks and you’ve got a floorplan anchor for any Chevy dealer unlucky enough to have one allocated to him.

All of this would be bad enough if the competition had been standing still since 2009 when the last G8 GXP was sold. They haven’t been. The main antagonist, Dodge’s SRT-8 Charger, now stuffs a 6.4 liter Hemi under the hood of a much more visually compelling package, whomping out 470 horsepower and screaming from zero-to-sixty nearly a full second faster than the SS. Extend that distance to a quarter mile, and the SS fares no better — 13.5 for the SS versus 12.6 for the Charger. It’s hard to see anybody but a true Bowtie fanatic opting for the SS over the SRT.

What does the future hold for the big GM Performance sedan? Take a quick look on third-party classified sites, where dealers are already advertising prices three to four thousand dollars beneath MSRP for a car that was just released last week. Compare that to another new for 2014 model, the Mercedes-Benz CLA, which dealers can’t keep on the lot at MSRP and above. Apples to oranges, yes, but just look at the difference in the advertising strategy. Super Bowl ads, Kate Upton, Willem Dafoe for the baby-baby Merc. For the Big Chevy? Nada.

I’d love to have the chance to have a candid, off-the-record conversation with somebody, hell, anybody at GM about what the thought process was behind the SS. Are they just trying to spread out the Commodore R&D budget? Is this some empty suit’s crusade? Why has there been NO advertising push behind this car? Are they so afraid to fail on a grand scale that they’ve decided to do the automotive equivalent of a direct-to-video release?

Believe me, as a former G8 owner, I want this car to succeed. Apparently, I want it to succeed even more than GM does. Unfortunately, I don’t have too much to say about the matter. When the biggest Bowtie sedan disappears from showrooms at the beginning of the 2015 model year, I doubt anyone will even notice.

Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 202 comments
  • 84Cressida 84Cressida on Nov 26, 2013

    This car is the perfect example why automakers should flat out ignore enthusiasts and their claims of what they should build. If I'm wanting a GM vehicle of this type, why would I spend that much money on a Chevy when I can get a Cadillac for similar coin? I'd love for Toyota to bring back the Cressida as a halo RWD sedan in the Toyota lineup, but they would have to be completely out of their mind to do that as it would interfere with Lexus. People forget that Chrysler can sell the SRT 300s and Chargers because there is no luxury brand to step on. Ford could probably get away with it since Lincoln is such a mess. Unless GM plans on nuking Cadillac, this car at its price point makes no sense. Price it lower and then you have it going against the Impala, and one could argue that car already has enough competition from within in the form of the Lacrosse. This car will not last more than two years.

  • Inodes Inodes on Feb 18, 2014

    It's very easy to palm the SS off as a slight update to the G8, but it's anything but. It's more than a 90% revision, with the only thing being retained visually being the doors and some switchgear. Here in Australia, even the car magazines were thinking it was "same old". The largest Australian car award (and longest running worldwide - Wheels Magazine), almost denied judging the car this year for a criteria stating = "must be significantly different from the previous model". At first glance, it was a minor upgrade. Going beneath the surface though, the noted how massively different it was. Then they drove it. Apart from almost winning this year's award (it took the seriously good Golf VII to deny it), the writers said it was a shame that GM Holden was closing shop. This model was said to be several generations of improvement over previous model that lent itself to the G8.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?
Next