Gather 'round, boys and girls, because good ol' Uncle Doug is about to let you in on an auto industry secret. That's right, folks: I'm going to clue you in on a confidential car business matter; a real trick of the trade. I can do that, you see, because I'm a big-time journalist now. All of us big-time journalists know a lot of auto industry secrets, and when we don't, we make them up.
So now that I've got your attention, you're probably wondering what the secret is. Well, I'm glad you asked, because it's a real whopper: domestic carmaker Chevrolet, noted supplier of midsize rental cars with beige interiors, is currently building a rear-wheel drive high-performance sedan. They call it the SS.
This is crazy, right? When Chevrolet launches an all-new Malibu, they inform everyone in America with a huge marketing effort that includes stuff like an enormous ad campaign, and major press events, and a social media blitz, and Malibu-shaped donuts at your local state fair, all of this in spite of the fact that, let's be honest here, the car is kind of crap. But then they launch something we actually want, a rear-wheel drive, V8-powered muscle sedan, and they keep it secret. Really, it's a wonder the Japanese have had so much success over the years.
Now, at this point, I recognize that some of you out there are groaning. You wanted a real secret, because you already knew about the SS. Presumably, this is because you're a member of the team that designed it, or maybe you work at a Chevy dealer.
The rest of us, we only knew about the SS somewhere in our periphery. I remember when it was announced, for example, because I distinctly recall thinking: "Hmm. That'll be cool!" But then I promptly forgot about it, and I went back to my usual routine of checking the Carmax website for used Land Rovers and sleeping in the afternoons.
And it's not like Chevy has done much to help me remember it. I haven't seen any advertisements around the car, for instance, which is sort of an unusual strategy when you have a new product. Then again, it's a strategy General Motors knows well, considering they pioneered it when they owned Saab.
In fact, the most I've heard about the SS since they day they announced it came earlier this week, when a Chevrolet SS caught fire while performing its duties as a NASCAR pace vehicle at Daytona. The thing pulled off to the side, and flames started shooting out of the trunk (the trunk, for God's sake),and the audience took a collective gasp and said: Oh! I think that's an SS! It was really a great public debut for the car; particularly the part where they hosed it down with flame retardant so it wouldn't blow up.
But other than that, I haven't heard enough about the SS. So I decided to do some of my own research, which is how I quickly discovered that it's actually a pretty damn cool car, when it isn't on fire.
For those of you who, like me, don't have much SS knowledge, here are the basics: it uses a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. It hits 60 mph in under 5 seconds, it uses a smooth 6-speed automatic, and it's rear-wheel drive. Travis says it's a pretty good car. And it's absolutely freaking loaded.
By this, I don't mean it's loaded in the auto journalist sense of: "Look guys! All the windows are one-touch down!" What I mean is that it includes an automatic parallel parking system standard. This isn't even a standard feature on Bentleys, though that may be because no one parallel parks a Bentley. They just hand it to the valet and say: "Don't adjust the mirrors."
It's not only the parallel parking system. The SS also includes a navigation system, heated and cooled leather seats, Bluetooth, Bose Audio, leather, and all sorts of collision warning systems that noisily beep at you like the world is ending when really, you're just approaching some shrubbery. And all of this can be yours for the low, low price of…
Well, that's the problem. The SS includes a lot of stuff, but those features really drive up the car's price. You won't walk out the door paying less than $45,000 plus tax – at least, not right now, anyway. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Chevrolet starts to throw some incentives on the SS, which will make it a flaming deal. (Ba-dum tshhh!)
But at the moment, the best thing to do if you're interested in an SS is: wait and buy it used.
Yes, I know this might be hard to do. You're eager to try out Chevy's latest product, and you want to get behind the wheel, and you can't wait bring it to your local Cars and Coffee, where everyone will say things like: "Oh wow! The new Impala looks really nice!" But you should really try to show some restraint, because the SS is going to be a much better used car than a new one.
Think about it: right now, the SS is a muscle car with great acceleration and a luxurious interior – but it's priced like a luxury car. Wait three short years, and it'll be a muscle car with great acceleration and a luxurious interior that's priced like a Kia Forte. It's a great strategy for many cars, but it's especially tempting here due to the combination of luxury, performance, and traditional General Motors-style depreciation.
Of course, in order for there to be any used models, Chevrolet has to sell some new ones. So for those of you who plan to order one new and pay sticker, I salute you. You're a hero; a saint; a real car God. Also: I'd like mine in red, with a black interior. And be careful with it, will ya? I don't want to find any scratches when I take delivery in three years.
the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried
to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't
work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to
become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also,
he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.