San Francisco: Horsepower
its the stuff of dreams and what makes our collective
heart pound fast. It was the biggest news for the automakers back in the 60s, what
with the muscle car feud that kept horsepower numbers climbing higher and higher until
emissions legislation, high insurance premiums and a gas shortage calmed the beast.
Fast forward, just about 30 years and youll find
a new skirmish in the horsepower war. No, were not talking about the race being led
by the luxury makes. Were talking good old-fashioned American "bigger is
better" cubic inches. Were talking the most popular vehicles in total sales:
For the better part of a decade, Ford has had the
high-performance truck gig all to itself with the SVT Lightening. Sure, Chevrolet had the
454SS truck of the early 90s but it really wasnt the powerhouse the General
needed to be able to compete with a complete package as the Lightening.
Enter the 2004 Chevy Silverado SS. Building
on the previous Blue Bowtie performance truck, the SS goes a few steps further and with a
little more gusto and crisper handling than we were expecting.
For starters, this truck has a smaller engine (about 366
cubic inches compared to the 454) but has full-time all-wheel-drive, huge 20-inch
five-spoke wheels and the Z60 "high-performance chassis package" to complete
this hulking monster of a truck. The SS is built on the newer GM truck architecture, which
is light years ahead of the previous generation in almost every way. Lastly, our Arrival
Blue tester had a ton of basic luxury amenities and a way cool monochromatic paint scheme.
Mean is a good way to describe the huge front end and its
giant grill and air intakes. The new look for the Silverado works well here by giving this
truck some real attitude, along with more power than the original.
The SS 6.0-liter V8 is rated at 345 Horsepower and 380lb.-ft.
of torque, which is less than the regular-cab-only, two-wheel-drive Lightening but is
still among the highest of any production truck. Also, the SS doesnt need the
Lightnings supercharger to get its horses, which opens the door for a backyard
mechanic to hot-rod his (or her) SS more easily than the Lightening.
What is not apparent upon first glance is the roadworthiness
of this beast. We "carefully" drove the SS through our test loop and found that
it can scoot along fine with a lot of the cars weve driven over the years. Our
biggest worry was about the width of this truck. We deemed ourselves lucky to not have
clipped any mailboxes or fences that are positioned close to our test road. (We think the
homeowners are most glad about this.)
The all-wheel-drive came in handy during a rainy day - we
were hustling down another favorite road and entered a turn a little too fast for such a
big truck but didnt slide like a two-wheel-drive Tahoe we tested last year. The
saving grace was the four powered tires that held us to our desired line through the turn.
Another great feature about all-wheel-drive is the ability to keep wheelspin on takeoff to
near nil. We definitely felt the power at every stoplight.
Outside of the engine, transmission and all-wheel-drive, the
SS is your basic Chevy Silverado, with the exception of SS badging on the seats, dash and
doors. Did we also mention the ultra cool monochromatic paint scheme?
The dash, seats and switchgear are standard Silverado, which
means it is easy to use and quite comfortable for long trips or short jaunts to the
grocery store. And storing a few bags of groceries is easy with the standard extended cab
that all SSs come with. We did feel some strange vibrations on the road but we
attributed them to the four-door cab rather than any other culprit
the extra cutouts
make for a less strong structure but make for better accessibility to the rear bench seat.
Expect to pay over $40k for an SS. With a base hovering at
the $40k mark, any options will send the price skyward. With that fact out in the open,
can we say how disappointed we were to find that for that price the SS we drove did not
have XM, OnStar or even a Homelink transmitter.
What it did have was dual-zone climate controls, a rear view
mirror with compass and temp gauge, a rear window defogger, tinted glass, a CD/cassette
stereo remote keyless entry and a leather wrapped steering wheel. If you were to just see
the list above, youd probably think were discussing a Buick Park Avenue or
Ford Crown Vic.
All in all, if you want the baddest looking, coolest
sounding, safe-to-drive-in-any-weather pick up, the SS is for you. But be sure to have am
offshore bank account with plenty of loot, cause itll cost you to be the most
envied person on your block. But itll be worth every penny. By James
E.Bryson © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Chevy Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
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Column Name: The SS tradition continues
Topic: 2004 Chevy Silverado SS
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Photo Credits: Chevrolet Internet Media
Series #: 2004 - 02
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