Premium sporty/performance car; Built in USA
  • 2-door convertible
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $14,000 – $22,000*


2005 Chevrolet SSR


2005 Chevrolet SSR


2005 Chevrolet SSR

Pros:
  • Cargo room
Cons:
  • Build quality
  • Noise

Chevrolet’s retro cruiser is high on style but low on refinement, delivering indifferent handling. It isn’t really a pickup truck, though the cargo bed adds a measure of practicality that many two-seat convertibles lack. Early models in particular had quality problems and aren’t high-performance vehicles, despite the throaty V8. Image is the SSR’s primary draw, but the brawny 2005-06 V8 gives it the power to match the street-rod personality.

Overview

When it arrived as a late 2003 model, Chevrolet called SSR the “world’s first convertible sport pickup truck.” Based on the chassis of the TrailBlazer sport-utility vehicle, this limited-edition two-seater was essentially a rear-wheel-drive regular-cab compact pickup, with a metal top that powered into a well behind the seats. The unabashedly retro styling of the body-on-frame SSR was patterned after Chevrolet’s 1947-53 pickup trucks.

A 300-horsepower V8 and four-speed automatic transmission comprised the sole powertrain. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes and traction control were standard. Wheels were 19-inch diameter in front, and 20-inch in back. Torso side airbags were standard, but curtain airbags were unavailable.

A rigid tonneau covered a cargo bed of approximately 3 x 5 feet. Loosely speaking, Chevrolet competed against its own Corvette and Ford’s Mustang and Thunderbird, and later the Chrysler Crossfire convertible, but the SSR was in a class by itself.

Yearly Updates

2004 SSR
After a short initial run of 2003 models in the fall of 2002, SSR entered the 2004 season unchanged, except for additional color choices. Base price initially was $41,370, and an SSR could tow as much as 2500 pounds.
2005 SSR
A major power boost and available manual gearbox highlighted the 2005 season. Chevrolet exchanged the SSR’s original 300-horsepower engine for a new 6.0-liter V8 that generated 390 horsepower and 405 pounds-feet of torque, working with either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. New options included a cockpit wind blocker and an auxiliary gauge package. The Bose CD stereo could now play MP3 files.
2006 SSR
Engine outputs rose slightly this year, to 395 horsepower with an automatic transmission and 400 with the optional manual gearbox. In March 2006, after manufacturing fewer than 25,000, Chevrolet produced the last SSR.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

In the SSR’s first two seasons, a 300-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 engine was mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. For 2005, a 6.0-liter V8 replaced the 5.3-liter, developing 390 horsepower and 405 pounds-feet of torque. Either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission could then be installed. Output ratings rose slightly for 2006, to 395 horsepower with automatic and 400 with manual shift.

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.3/325
Engine HP 300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 331
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

15/19

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.0/364
Engine HP 390-395
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 400-405
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

15/19

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 60./364
Engine HP 390-400
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 400-405
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual

13/20

Road Test

In its initial form, V8 power was offset by hefty 4760-pound curb weight. That meant adequate “go,” but the early SSR was no “muscle truck.” Chevrolet claimed 7.5 seconds for 0-60 mph acceleration. Real muscle arrived with the 390-horsepower V8 in 2005, when Chevrolet claimed 0-60 times of 5.3 seconds with a manual gearbox and 5.5 with automatic. Automatic-transmission models are smooth from a stop, and upshifts occur sharply under aggressive throttle operation. The manual transmission has a hefty feel and provides quicker launches.

Don’t expect as much as 15 mpg overall fuel economy. Chevrolet permitted regular-grade fuel at first, but premium gasoline is required for later models.

The SSR’s suspension soaks up minor pavement flaws with little harshness. Larger bumps and ridges register abruptly for choppy going on all but smooth surfaces. The body quivers almost constantly over pavement imperfections, calming just slightly with the top up.

Nicely weighted steering is a bonus. Wide tires provide good grip in turns, and body lean is well-checked. Unfortunately, structural rigidity is lacking, so bumpy corners–even bumpy straightaways–can upset stability.

A prominent, throaty V8 exhaust note fills the cockpit, enhancing the SSR’s street-cruiser image, and the engine drones loudly at certain speeds. Test vehicles have suffered squeaks and rattles, mostly from the raised top, when wind noise from the rear pillars is also noticed.

Clear gauges occupy the retro-style dashboard, which keeps controls to a useful minimum. But the radio is a long reach away. Leather upholstery impresses, but the mix of faux metal plastic and quite a few unpadded surfaces imparts a low-budget feel. Movement of the automatic transmission’s floor-mounted gearshift lever is particularly crude. Optional accessory gauges provide additional information, but are buried at the leading edge of the console, difficult to see from the driver’s seat.

Sporty seats in a narrow cabin makes the SSR short of hip and shoulder space. Short windows give a closed-in feeling with the top up. Tall drivers get adequate seat travel and good top-up head clearance. Seat controls on the outboard side of the cushion are nearly impossible to access with the doors closed, though the SSR includes memory-power settings. Visibility to front corners is hampered by thick roof pillars, and to the rear by combination of roof pillars, large headrests, roll bars, and a high tail.

In-cabin storage is limited to a skimpy dashboard glovebox, small and difficult-to-open center-console bin, and clip-on cupholders. The cargo bed holds 23.7 cubic feet under the rigid tonneau that lifts from the rear. It can be removed, though the opening angle limits access and load-carrying ability.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2005 Chevroelt SSR

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 8
80%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - N/A
N/A0%
Cargo Room - 1
10%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 37

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
116.0 191.4 78.6 64.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
23.7 990 25.0 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.0 42.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2005 SSR 2-door convertible

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Brakes
Description: The parking brake may not release because the handle binds on the bracket, which must be replaced. (2003-04)
Clutch
Description: The clutch pedal won’t return after high-rpm shifts (over 6,000 rpm) on some early-production models, requiring replacement of the disc and pressure plate. (2005)
Dashboard lights
Description: The ABS warning light may come on due to a poor electrical ground for the electronic brake control module. (2003-05)
Engine misfire
Description: Poor idle, stumbling, and misfires can result from intake manifold gasket deterioration on the flexible fuel (RPO L59) engine, requiring a revised intake gasket. (2003-04)
Fuel gauge
Description: The engine may not start or may stall because the tank is empty yet the gauge shows fuel remaining, or the fuel gauge will not show full after refilling due to sulfur corrosion of the fuel level sender and if after treating with Fuel System Cleaner PLUS the problem remains, the sender may need to be replaced. (2003-06)
Water leak
Description: Water collects in the corners of the bed after a rain, requiring installation of drains. (2003-05)
Wipers
Description: The windshield wipers may not stop if water gets into the electrical connector. (2003-04)

Recall History

2006 SSR
Description: Tire and loading information label may show incorrect vehicle capacity weight.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.