2003-2005 Chevrolet SSR

Tony Quiroga
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Bold gambles in the automotive industry brought Shelby's Cobra, Dodge's Viper, and Ford's GT to the market. Unfortunately there are times when manufacturers have gambled and lost, among these are the Bricklin SV-1, the De Lorean, and, recently, Lincoln's Blackwood. Chevrolet has rolled the dice with the SSR, but it remains to be seen how they'll land.

Passenger Side Door View

Built upon the GMT-360 platform that underpins the TrailBlazer family of SUVs, the SSR is a body-on-frame truck that weighs in at a substantial 4760 pounds. Walk up to the SSR and what you'll immediately notice is that it is a whole lot bigger than it looks in pictures; step inside and you'll notice there is a lot less space than you'd expect. Aside from the slightly cramped quarters, the SSR has a great looking interior. Aluminum accents, elegant gauges, high-quality plastics, and climate controls borrowed from GM partner Alfa Romeo look and feel custom-made. If you subscribe to its definition of style, the SSR will not disappoint aesthetically.

Yellow probably isn't the best color for the SSR, it makes it look cartoonish; as if Tex Avery drew a taxicab pickup. However, build quality is excellent, panel fits are tight and the retractable hardtop worked easily and quickly. Operated by a single button, the top folds into a space about the size of two golf bags. Behind the top's nacelle is the carpeted and wood-trimmed bed. Trips to the lumberyard seem to be out of the question as the bed looks about as useful as the one in the Blackwood.

If you've ever driven a mid-seventies Corvette, the SSR's unwillingness to accelerate accompanied by an adagio V-8 soundtrack will be familiar. The truck is simply too heavy to have any sporting pretensions, buy one to cruise and you'll be happy; just don't get involved in any pink-slip drag races. Point the SSR down a curvy road and you'll find that the large and sticky tires do their best to keep the 4760 pounds on the road. Steering is nicely weighted and feels much better on-center than any of the other GMT-360 derivatives. An SSR will allow you to flog it down a country road, but while you're doing it the word sporty will never enter your mind.

Like therapy, the SSR seems to remind its fans of their youth. But at $42,000 the therapy is expensive and of dubious value. A sport-truck should provide at least one of the following: utility, performance, or value. Sure, the SSR has style, but so did the De Lorean, Blackwood, and the Bricklin. But it was what those cars didn't have that led to their demise. Without at least one of those attributes to maintain sales, betting on the SSR looks more and more like a sucker's bet.

Steering Wheel View

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