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2004 Chevrolet SSR

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San Francisco: When you describe something to someone, you can usually compare it to something else. But the Chevrolet SSR is absolutely unique -The only thing that even resembles it would be found at one of the top-level custom car shows.

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 pickup’s can, and there’s 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 body’s 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 doesn’t 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 don’t 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 GM’s 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 driver’s 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 won’t work the other way.

I wasn’t 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 V8’s power and song captivating, and the handling is more like a Corvette than a truck.

All this fun doesn’t 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.  By Steve Schaefer AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  The Chevrolet SSR is absolutely unique
Topic:  The 2004 Chevrolet SSR
Word Count:   890
Photo Caption:  The 2004 chevrolet SSR
Photo Credits:  Chevrolet Internet Media
Series #:   2004 - 25

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2004 Chevy SSR

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