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2004 Chevy Silverado SS

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San Francisco: Horsepower…it’s 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 you’ll find a new skirmish in the horsepower war. No, we’re not talking about the race being led by the luxury makes. We’re talking good old-fashioned American "bigger is better" cubic inches. We’re talking the most popular vehicles in total sales: trucks!

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 wasn’t 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 doesn’t need the Lightning’s 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 we’ve 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 didn’t 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 SS’s 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, you’d probably think we’re 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 it’ll cost you to be the most envied person on your block. But it’ll be worth every penny.  By James E.Bryson AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  The SS tradition continues
Topic:  2004 Chevy Silverado SS
Word Count:   885
Photo Caption:  2004 Chevy Silverado SS
Photo Credits:  Chevrolet Internet Media
Series #:   2004 - 02

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2004 Chevy Silverado SS

Download the original image file here:  2004 Chevy Silverado SS 22k

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