First Look: 2003 Chevrolet Silverado SS - Chevy's Rock Star Returns
By: Michael LevinePosted: 07-01-02 01:00

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Ten years after it left the building, Chevrolet's top performing pickup is back from retirement. The truck formerly known as the 454SS has a new name, it's changed its tune and added a few pounds but GM is hoping performance fans will once again embrace the SS badge, now attached to the Silverado.

Right off the bat, the 2003 Chevrolet Silverado SS is a significant departure from what one might consider a traditional muscle truck profile but it stays close to the boundaries of GM's contemporary truck lineup.

The last time we saw the SS it was a standard cab, rear wheel drive, two door pickup powered by GM's classic 454 cubic-inch (7.4-liter) big block engine. The 454 produced 255 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque and could launch you and your girlfriend 0 to 60 in 7.2 seconds.

This time around the Silverado SS is fun for the whole family. Available only in a four door extended cab configuration, the truck can easily accommodate yourself and your wife plus three kids. Power comes from the outstanding Vortec 6000 V8. This high tech, high output 6.0-liter (366-ci) pushrod engine grows horsepower to 345 hp but drops torque to 380 lb-ft. The Silverado SS also adds the performance and handling capabilities of full time all wheel drive and a fully locking rear locking differential to its repertoire.

If all of this sounds familiar it's because the Silverado SS is very closely related to the 2001 GMC Sierra C3, one of the best, if not the best, all-around full size pickups ever created. The SS gains 20 horsepower and 10 lb-ft over the C3 plus it adds 20 x 8.5-inch wheels, lowers itself 50mm in the rear, 20mm up front and adds 18mm track, but there are sure to be plenty of groans and gripes from the performance audience who were expecting something special, like a supercharger, to set the SS apart not just from the rest of GM's full size truck lineup (it ties output figures with Cadillac's 2003 Escalade) but from muscle truck offerings from crosstown rivals Ford and Dodge.

Don't expect to see the SS play with the Ford SVT F-150 Lightning or upcoming Dodge Ram SRT-10 out of the box. It's not going to happen without some aftermarket help.

Using a naturally aspirated V8, GM has taken the middle ground between those two performance extremes. The Lightning relies on a supercharger to provide plenty of power to its smaller displacement 5.8-liter V8 while Dodge takes the brute force approach and throws cubic inches at the problem with its 8.3-liter (506-ci) V10, culled straight from the Viper sports car.

Where the 454SS and Lightning used to tie each other 0 to 60, the Lightning now hits that mark in 5.8 seconds. The Silverado SS probably won't come close to that. The C3 could hit 60 in 7.3 seconds and we expect the SS to come in right around that same time. Dodge is claiming 5.0 second 0 to 60 times in early performance figures for the SRT-10 but we'll have to wait until the product hits the streets before that can be put to the test.

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