Chevrolet to debut rear-wheel-drive SS next year

For the first time in nearly two decades, the Chevrolet brand

will have a big, rear-wheel-drive sedan in its U.S. lineup.

General Motors Co. said Thursday that the 2014 Chevrolet SS will

go on sale in limited numbers late next year. The V8-powered SS is

a version of the Holden VF Commodore, a rear-wheel-drive sedan sold

in Australia. It will be made in Australia.

The new SS will also be Chevrolet’s NASCAR Sprint Cup contender,

replacing the Impala. It will debut in its race configuration at

the 2013 Daytona 500.

GM issued a photo of a camouflaged SS on a test track, but

otherwise released few details.

The SS won’t be Chevy’s only rear-wheel-drive vehicle. The

Chevrolet Camaro is also rear-wheel-drive, but it’s a two-door

coupe powered by a V6 engine. And the Corvette is a V8-powered

rear-wheel-drive sports car, but it doesn’t have the space of a

four-door sedan.

GM spokesman Monte Doran said enthusiasts have been clamoring

for a rear-wheel-drive sedan since GM discontinued the Chevrolet

Caprice and Impala SS sedans in 1996. Performance enthusiasts

prefer rear-wheel-drive cars because they accelerate faster and

handle better.

The timing is awkward for a V8-powered gas guzzler, with gas

prices high and fuel economy standards rising. But Doran stressed

that the SS won’t hurt Chevrolet’s overall fuel economy because it

will be sold in very small numbers to a core group of

enthusiasts.

”This is by no means a mainstream car,” he said.

SS is short for Super Sport. The designation has a long history

within the Chevrolet brand. It first appeared in 1957 on a Corvette

prototype race car, and was first offered as an option on a

standard production sedan with the 1961 Impala. The latest SS model

in Chevy’s lineup is the fifth-generation Camaro, which debuted in

2010.