Introduced for the 2003 model year, this retro-styled pickup truck is aimed squarely at enthusiasts. The rear-wheel-drive SSR (Super Sport Roadster) is smaller than typical trucks and borrows a few styling ideas from Chevrolet pickups of the late 1940s.
Billed by the automaker as "the American Street Machine," the two-passenger SSR is part open-air roadster and part compact hot-rod pickup. Equipped with a retractable "top stack" hardtop, the limited-production pickup initially held a 300-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 and a four-speed-automatic transmission. Chevrolet promised a "boulevard-cruiser ride and refined roadster handling."
Engine output with a six-speed-manual gearbox rises to 400 hp for 2006, while the same engine with a four-speed automatic is rated at 395 hp. Chevrolet claims the manual-shift SSR can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Two-tone paint and a chrome package are newly available, and additional dealer-installed accessories are offered.
Chevrolet's Advanced Design trucks, produced from 1947 to 1953, inspired the SSR's styling, which features a sculpted hood and large flared fenders. The power-retractable hardtop operates in 25 seconds, stacking roof panels vertically behind the passenger compartment. Cargo-bed volume, at 22.5 cubic feet, is the same with the roof up or down.
Measuring 191.5 inches long overall, the SSR rides a 116-inch wheelbase and uses body-on-frame construction. The cargo bed is approximately 4.2 feet long and 3.5 feet wide (at the wheelhousing).
Built on a modified version of the platform used for the Chevrolet TrailBlazer sport utility vehicle, the SSR features full-length hydroformed steel rails with eight cross-members. A lower stance and wider track are intended to increase stability and flatten cornering. Aluminum wheels hold Goodyear performance tires that measure 19 inches in front and 20 inches in the rear. No spare tire is included.
Two passengers fit inside the SSR, which features a twin-cockpit theme with body-colored accents. A horizontal aluminum-look bar spans the width of the dashboard. Audio controls are hidden behind a movable panel. Three gauges sit low, which makes them difficult to see.
Under the Hood
With a six-speed-manual gearbox, the 6.0-liter LS2 V-8 now produces 400 hp at 6,000 rpm and 400 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Output dips to 395 hp with General Motors' four-speed-automatic transmission. A Torsen differential distributes engine power to the wheel with the most traction.
Four-wheel all-disc antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are standard.
Don't expect to pass unnoticed when driving an SSR. This car/pickup crossover commands plenty of attention. Passersby can hear it coming because of its loud exhaust note, and they're likely to be enthralled by the sight of the SSR's retractable top in action.
Standing-start performance ranks as ferocious, in keeping with the SSR's extroverted appearance. Acceleration isn't quite as dramatic when passing or merging, but few drivers will be dissatisfied.
Ride comfort is less appealing. You can feel plenty of road harshness right in the steering wheel. Construction quality has improved, but it's still not up to contemporary standards. The SSR's questionable body tightness actually evokes the now-extinct Chevrolet Camaro.