american sports car

2014 Chevrolet SS

Who can recall the last rear wheel drive 4 door SS that Chevrolet had? If you can, you’ll remember it to be the 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS. A barge of a car, the Impala SS was essentially a Chevrolet Caprice with the package that their police counterparts came with, along with some body colored bumpers, different wheels, oh, and an engine derived from the Corvette’s LT1. I must admit I was never a fan of the Chevy Caprice in stock form, but the ’94-96 Impala SS always caught my attention, to the point that I even looked for one for my first car.

10 years after the 1994 Impala SS came around, Chevrolet has introduced the 2014 Chevrolet SS, which is essentially a new and improved Pontiac G8 that made it to our shores from GM’s Australian division before Pontiac got the ax, and guess what? This car is good. It checks all the boxes needed if you’re a dad who wants to have a fun, sporty car with room for a car seat.

The SS is pretty much a 4 door Camaro SS. It has the same 6.2l V8 engine found in the Camaro SS(a little less HP, 415hp vs. 426) and the same 6 speed automatic transmission. Oh yeah, hope you don’t mind an automatic, as thats the only transmission available, but hey, you’ll appreciate it when you’re trying to stop little Timmy from hitting his brother. This car comes pretty much with no options available, but thats because it comes with the majority of normal optional features standard. However, you do have the option to choose whether or not you want a full size spare tire and wheel, as well as a sunroof.

For a price tag of around $46,000 you get a slew of standard features, some of which include such premium features like keyless push button start, an 8″ color touchscreen with navigation, heated and ventilated seats, heads-up display, remote start and a plethora of safety features like lane departure, blind zone alert, rear traffic alert, forward collision alert, parking assist, and a rear view camera. All-in-all a great set of features for what you’re paying.

This car was very well composed, a little stiff, but surprisingly comfortable. It is something you could live with on a day to day basis, but still tackle the corners when you’re all alone. Handling was very crisp, and provided pretty good feedback. The flat bottomed steering wheel was a very nice added touch to enhance the sportiness feel. With all the safety nannies on I was surprised at how well they were able to keep that rear end planted to the ground and keep the car composed when pushing it hard into turns. It reins you in pretty well in case you push a little too hard. There isn’t really much you can say about the 6.2L 415hp LS3 V8, it’s a big thunderous V8, which is quiet when you want it to be, but the burble lurks subtly so you know its ready to go whenever you are. As for the people behind you, they’ll be well aware of when you step on the gas, as it’s not a polite exhaust full out, but damn does it sound great.

Inside you’ll find all the comforts you need, from a decently appointed dash with some nice leather and alcantara touches, to nicely bolstered and supportive seats. The seats were a little wide for my body type, still very comfortable, but for your average American these were perfect. The only quibble I had was with the cheap chrome-looking pieces located throughout the dash and center console. To me they felt a little cheap, and were a little gaudy looking.

Overall the Chevrolet SS is a great car. It hits all the points in sportiness and comfort. If you’re looking for something fun and to tide over the 25 year old in you, all the while having a completely capable family sedan for a day to the zoo, then this is an ideal car for you.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette

The Corvette is an American icon. When it first appeared in 1953 as a show car, it was met with so much enthusiasm that GM decided to make it into a production model, and it came out later that year. Seven generations later, and it’s still in production, and still loved as much as back then. While many will argue which is the best Vette ever made, I’d have to say without having ever driven another version besides the Corvette C6 ZR1, this is a great American sports car, hell, maybe even an American super car.

While it’s no Ferrari or Lamborghini, the C7 Corvette is well on it’s way to being a contender for bang for your buck. For a cool $51,000 you can be sitting in one. What does that $51,000 get you? I’m glad you asked.

You’re no longer looking at cheap, recycled parts, the same steering wheel as a Chevrolet Malibu, or decent performance. No, you’re looking at a very well crafted machine, filled with luxurious touches, and great overall performance. Looking over this car, GM took in every detail, from the soft touch leather dashboard, to the knobs that control the climate controls, everything feels well thought out, and well executed. The digital gauges add a very nice touch of the future to the cabin, but don’t worry, you still have some analog gauges there as well to even it all out. The seats are very comfortable as well. It didn’t take much to find a comfortable seating position, and while you’re pretty low to the ground, it didn’t feel like it.

Previous years exterior designs were never as controversial as this one. Some may think its too aggressive looking, but I think it looks just right. It has enough aggressiveness to have people take a double take when passing by, which is what the Corvette needed. Yeah, you see Corvettes a lot more than you’ll see Ferrari’s, which is partially the reason why previous generations get overlooked easily. But this one, you need to take a look at again, just to be like, “Wait, this is a Corvette? An American car company built something so exotic looking?” And exotic it is. Over the course of the 16 hours I had this car I had people stopping me, asking me questions about it, heck, some people were even pulling u-turns as the drove by just to get out and look the car over as it was parked on the side of the road.

Now, the performance parts. How can you go wrong with a 6.2 liter V8 pushing out 455 horsepower, 460 if you opt for the performance exhaust as in the car I had. Transmission choices are either a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters, or a true enthusiasts transmission of a manual 7-speed with active rev-matching. Yes, thats correct, a 7-speed manual in a Corvette. While I’ll say that the 7-speed manual transmission in this car is pretty good, it did feel a tiny bit clunky, and many times I would find it hard to find the gear I was looking for. Trying to get from 2nd into 3rd I’d sometimes end up in 5th, and trying to go from 4th to 5th I’d sometimes end up in 7th, but most of the time, I’d end up somewhere in between. I’m sure with some more time in the car it would all become second nature to me, but it would take some time.

In the center of the car you will find a dial. On that dial you have some options. Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport, and Track. I kept it mainly in 2 modes, Tour and Sport. Tour mode is what I’d like to call your everyday mode. It’s comfortable, smooth, and just overall very pleasant. The exhaust isn’t too loud, unless you really get on it, the ride is very compliant and easy on the hind quarters. This is the kind of mode you use driving around your community neighborhood at the early hours, or if you’re on long road trip.

My favorite mode, however, was Sport. This gave the suspension a more aggressive feel, a little more jarring, but not unbearable. It also tightened up the steering feel and made the exhaust much more pronounced. This is the mode you’d drive in when you want to hear the roar of that LS3 engine, and when you want everyone else to hear it too.

No matter which mode you’re in, planting your foot into the floor will always give you a nice rush. Plant it hard enough and that back end likes to come loose like a wet noodle. Before you know it you’re hitting 60mph, which is claimed to be around 3.8 seconds. Keep that throttle pegged, and you hit triple digits in no time. The engine just begs to keep going, and hearing the noises that it’s emitting makes it very hard to pull that right foot back. But alas, unless you’re on a track you shouldn’t be hitting those speeds, but it sure is fun trying to get up there.

So is this new Corvette a true super car. Of course not. But it’s pretty damn close for what you’re paying for.