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2016 Chevrolet SS: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2016

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, most full-size sedans employed rear-wheel drive and a healthy dose of V8 power. Beginning with the 1990s, automakers instead started to focus on smaller packaging, fuel economy and platform sharing, and V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive cars largely left the mainstream.

But the 2016 Chevrolet SS has revived rear-wheel drive and V8 power in a big way. The full-size sedan, first released for 2014, combines the old tradition with amenities such as the latest safety features, high-end luxury options and modern styling. It also offers a technologically advanced 6.2-liter V8 engine with big power: a muscular 415 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque.

Unfortunately, sales haven't quite been quick, especially considering that Chevrolet also offers the comfortable, similarly sized Impala, which boasts better gas mileage and more affordable pricing. But enthusiasts sure are happy to see the SS return to Chevrolet's lineup, and so is anyone with a hankering for full-size sedans the way they used to be.

What's New for 2016?

The SS makes two minor changes for the latest model year -- a slightly revised front fascia and hood to keep things fresh, and a new dual-mode exhaust which is quiet at low speeds and louder as you accelerate.

What We Like

Excellent power; surprisingly taut handling; upscale creature comforts and convenience features; new magnetic suspension

What We Don't

No entry-level base model for drivers who just want the performance; interior quality could be improved

How Much?

$47,600

Fuel Economy

The rear-wheel drive Chevrolet SS offers just one engine: a 6.2-liter V8 that's good for 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. Two transmissions are offered: a 6-speed automatic (good for 14 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway) and a new 6-speed manual, which boasts up to 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The SS is offered in just one trim level. Priced from $47,600, it includes leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a navigation system, automatic wipers, heated and cooled front seats, dual power front seats, keyless entry with push-button starting, automatic parallel parking, a remote starter, automatic wipers, 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport suspension, a rearview camera, an 8-in center-mounted touchscreen with standard MyLink infotainment, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert. Last year, the SS also gained GM's excellent Magnetic Ride Control as standard equipment.

The SS only offers three options: a sunroof ($900), a full-size spare tire ($500) and a 6-speed manual transmission, which is offered at no cost.

Safety

The 2016 Chevrolet SS comes standard with front and rear-side airbags, curtain-side airbags, anti-lock brakes, knee airbags, stability control, traction control and a wide range of technologically advanced safety features like a rearview camera, front-collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitoring system and an automatic parallel-parking system.

Due to its low production volume, the SS has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.

Behind the Wheel

Get behind the wheel, and the SS quickly impresses -- not for its excellent interior materials (they're just OK) but rather because it's able to combine quick acceleration with agile handling that makes you feel like you're in a much smaller car. You're not, as the SS weighs in at a whopping 4,000 pounds, but thanks to fine-tuned suspension and a brute-force engine, the SS certainly doesn't feel like the large sedan that it is.

But the SS is indeed a large sedan, and that's good news when it comes to transporting passengers. The rear seats are roomy, and there's ample headroom and hip room both in front and in back. Think of the SS as a more practical, more upscale 4-door Camaro, and you wouldn't be too far off.

Speaking of more upscale, we must admit the SS surprises us with its level of standard equipment. Sedans from mainstream brands like Chevrolet don't tend to include a parallel-parking system standard, nor do they offer navigation, cooled seats, Magnetic Ride Control or 19-in alloys at no charge. We appreciate the features, and we feel spoiled when we use them, but we wonder if eliminating them could've lowered the SS's price. After all, $47,000 is a little expensive for a Chevrolet, no matter how well-equipped.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Dodge Charger -- The 4-door, 5-seat Dodge Charger is one of the few other large sedans to continue the rear-wheel drive tradition. To compete with the SS, we suggest the high-performance SRT model. It's more powerful, but nowhere near as refined.

2016 Ford Taurus SHO -- If you're not dead set on rear-wheel drive, consider the all-wheel-drive Taurus SHO, which boasts 385 hp and a turbocharged V6. The Taurus doesn't handle as well as the SS, and it's not as well-equipped, but it boasts a lot of power and much better gas mileage.

Used Cadillac CTS-V -- If you're thinking that the SS doesn't quite offer enough power for you, consider a used version of Cadillac's high-performance CTS-V. Available in sedan, coupe or wagon versions, the V boasts 556 hp, and it also offers Magnetic Ride Control and a wide range of high-end features.

Used Chrysler 300 SRT8 -- The SRT8 model has left the Chrysler 300 lineup, but that doesn't mean it's gone for good. After all, you can still buy used versions of the 470-hp monster luxury sedan, and you can probably even find some recent examples for less than the SS's $47,600 base price.

Autotrader's Advice

There's something about a rear-drive, V8-powered full-size American sedan that still has some appeal after all these years. We'd be very happy with an SS, and we'd make sure ours has the power sunroof and the full-size spare.

Find a Chevrolet SS for sale

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Used 2016 Chevrolet SS
Used 2016 Chevrolet SS
$39,450
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Chevrolet SS: New Car Review - Autotrader