The SSR is a pickup truck, but unlike any
other. For one thing, it looks like a fifty-year old model, heavily customized. The domed
hood wears a metallic mustache, and the apparently bumperless face features a billet-style
bar that sweeps back, dividing the headlamps in two. Front and rear fenders bulge as only
a classic pickups can, and theres a usable bed in back. The slim rearview
mirrors look like flags.
Inside, the custom car styling continues, with a metallic bar
sweeping across the matte-finished dash, steering wheel, and into the doors to match the
front of the car. The three-pod instrument panel gauges wear shiny edges too. The
bodys paint color gleams along the tops of the doors and all the way around under
the windshield, and also on the center console. Sporty leather buckets feel like they
belong in a Corvette. This is definitely no ordinary truck.
The real surprise, though, is that the SSR converts to a convertible
in 25 effortless seconds! This is the first use of this kind of top on a truck, and it
doesnt take up any space in the lined cargo bed. To convert to an open-air ride, you
simply push and hold a button on the console and a hard lid lifts and the top stack
retractable hardtop folds in half and tucks behind the seats. Then, the lid flips an
extension out and lowers to create a smooth cover over it. You dont even need to
unlatch the top from the windshield. This process was a real crowd pleaser.
With the top down, you can better hear the wonderful rumble of a
traditional Chevy small block V8 engine. This one is GMs all-aluminum Vortec 5300,
which generates an even 300 horsepower and 331 lb.-ft. of torque out of 5.3 liters. The
four-speed HydraMatic automatic transmission knows when to shift, so all you have to do is
step on it and go. Fuel mileage is listed at 16 city, 19 highway, but I averaged 15.3 mpg.
Handling is direct and quick for a 4,700-pound car, with a firm a
stable ride, thanks to stabilizer bars and tuned shocks connected to sturdy body-on-frame
truck style construction. To keep it rigid, the SSR is enhanced with hydroformed steel
side rails and seven frame cross-members. The vehicle sits on low-profile Goodyear
all-season performance tires 19 inches in front and 20 inches in the rear.
My tester came in Redline Red, a color familiar to Corvette or
Camaro enthusiasts. It may be the perfect look-at-me shade for this beauty, but you can
also get Slingshot Yellow, Smokin Asphalt (black), Ricochet Silver Metallic, or
Ultra Violet Metallic.
All SSRs come loaded with the kind of things you want, from power
heated outside mirrors to power windows with express down, radio controls on the steering
wheel, cruise control, six-way power drivers seat (2-way for the passenger), and
keyless entry with security system. If you demand more, you can add the Preferred
Equipment Group ($1,900), which features an attractive engine cover, memory and heating
for the seats, the electronic Driver Information Control (DIC), automatic-dimming mirrors,
and a Bose premium sound system.
The cargo box features a matching pop up hard cover, for complete
security and a sleek, cool look. The tailgate has a custom-style interior release, leaving
a clean tail. To open the back, you press a button on the remote (or one hidden in the
glovebox) to lift the lid. Then, you can pull down the tailgate and load your stuff.
Because this is the only place to carry anything, this large bed sometimes must hold
things like groceries, which can slide around in there. A way of keeping smaller items
secure would be handy. Chevy plans to offer nearly 50 special accessories over the next
few years, so one of them might be a trunk. There are already channels built into the
truck bed to secure one. To close up the back, you must pull down the cover first, and
then slam the tailgate closed. It wont work the other way.
I wasnt sure that this sports car / truck / convertible would
feel sporty enough, but with a week behind the wheel it has become a real favorite.
Besides attracting lots of admiration everywhere you go, the open air ride is joyous, the
V8s power and song captivating, and the handling is more like a Corvette than a
All this fun doesnt come cheap, but it seems like a great
value for everything you get. The base price is $41,370, and my test unit, with the
Preferred Equipment Group and destination charge, came to $43,910. But this unique super
pickup takes sport and utility to a new level of fun.