The Chevy SSR engine, transmission, and TORSEN differential

The second engine: a 6.0 liter with 390 horsepower (LS2)

The new LS2 engine features a deep-skirt aluminum block with cast aluminum heads, delivering 390 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque for quick acceleration from any speed. A six-speed manual Tremec transmission is now available, showing that GM means business.

The first engine: a new aluminum version of the Vortec 5.3

GM started with an aluminum Vortec 5.3 liter engine with its Hydramatic 4L60-E automatic transmission; the aluminum version dropped 100 pounds from the truck version. The block uses 319-T7 aluminum alloy, aiding heat rejection, and was produced by the gravity-poured sand casting process so steel cylinder liners could be cast in-place.

Quiet-profile pistons minimized clearances as the pistons rocked; they were polymer-coated to reduce cold scuffing and engine noise, and provide enduring wear surfaces. The deep-skirt engine block design, with six-bolt main bearings, allowed cross bolting of the bearing caps, limiting flex and vibration.… Read the rest

Creation and development of the Chevy SSR

According to GM, the Chevy SSR traces its lineage to the vision of Wayne Cherry, Vice President of GM Design. The original idea was to explore how a heritage design theme might manifest itself in a truck, as opposed to cars where heritage designs abound. Working with GM Design’s Corporate Brand Character Center, which defines and executes the vision for each of GM’s global brands, Cherry immediately made the connection to Chevrolet as a perfect fit for a heritage-inspired truck.

Ed Welburn, executive director of the Brand Character Center, led the effort to develop some options as to what this heritage truck might become. In the summer of 1999, a team of young designers began rendering creative ideas.

Four options emerged. Three were inspired by various eras of Chevy pickups, the 1930s, late-40s, early 50s, and the late 50s.… Read the rest

The Chevy SSR’s hydroformed frame

The production version of the Chevrolet SSR uses a frame with fully hydroformed steel side rails. The hydroformed frame features great strength and stiffness, relatively low weight and precise quality.

Ted Robertson, chief engineer for the Chevrolet SSR said: “A traditional stamped frame with this amount of strength and rigidity would weigh roughly 20% more than this one. That strength allows the frame to take on the road inputs, which lets the suspension do its job precisely.”

Hydroforming is a process of shaping steel tubes through the application of water at extremely high pressure. It replaces traditional stamping processes, preserving more of the steel’s strength and stiffness as it goes through the forming process. Hydroforming is done at low temperatures to retain the material’s strength throughout the forming process, unlike high temperature processes which decrease material strength.… Read the rest

2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 road test

The Corvette’s latest incarnation, the Z06, is an exciting, brutally fast, and even fairly docile vehicle, thanks to a combination of old-fashioned cubes and new-fangled technology. With second-generation active handling and traction control, getting the Z06 up to 60 miles per hour in under five seconds is a snap. With a highly tuned 350 under the hood, sounding like a NASCAR racing engine under high revs, that five seconds can be thrilling indeed.

We were lucky enough to have a Corvette for a full week. In that time, we were continuously impressed not just by its acceleration, road-handling, and braking, but also by the ease with which it can be driven. This is no hard-core, experienced-racers-only Viper. This is a car that can be driven quietly or hard, with attention but not with a constant fear of having the rear wheels showing up in front of you (figuratively speaking, at least).… Read the rest

Interview with Bob Walczyk of the Chevrolet SSR brand team

Thanks to David Caldwell for arranging this session. 

Bob Walczyk is one of the key people responsible for taking the Chevrolet SSR from concept to reality, defining the Chevy SSR’s equipment, content and marketing plans.

Before the questions and answers get underway, Bob Walczyk thanked us for our interest and enthusiasm, saying, “Thanks to everyone for their interest and enthusiasm for the Chevrolet SSR. Your enthusiasm, triggered by the original concept vehicle, is a big part of what is driving the team to get the SSR into production.” He also pointed out the SSR’s appearance at the upcoming Woodward Dream Cruise, and a benefit for Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) with die-cast models autographed by CEO Rick Wagoner being auctioned off. “OK, on with the questions!”

1. What can you tell us about the engine going into the SSR (size, power, etc.)?Read the rest

Subaru Legacy GT vs Chrysler Concorde – comparison review

While the popular Subaru Outback is relatively new, it’s based on a venerable if little-known Subaru nameplate – the Legacy. Long beloved by their owners, Subarus have generated a reputation for quality and a secondary reputation for having slow engines.

The Legacy GT’s horizontally opposed four provides smooth, quiet power, with extremely steady acceleration from idle to redline. It takes about nine and a half seconds to reach 60 mph. By comparison, the Intrepid’s base 2.7 feels less gutsy at first but quickly builds power, beating the Legacy to sixty despite the Intrepid’s larger size, and there is an optional 3.2 liter engine which also runs on regular gas; the 2.7, at least, is very slightly more economical than the Legacy’s four.

The Legacy transmission is good enough, but doesn’t kick down easily, possibly because the engine isn’t a screamer at high revs.… Read the rest

2001 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 vs 2001 Dodge Ram 2500

The 1994 Dodge Ram shook up the light truck market by turning out a stylish and strong pickup with a comfortable, useful interior tailored for working pickup owners. Dodge’s skyrocketing sales and market share was not lost on Ford and GM, whose next-generation  pickups had more interior amenities and bigger engines. Ford even borrowed key Dodge styling cues, from honeycomb grille to “big rig” styling; while GM stayed with their traditional styling, but bolstered their power and amenities.

… that is, until the 2001 heavy-duty models came out with a Dodge-like hood added to the traditional “Chevy square” front end.

Before this generation, the Ram narrowly beat the Silverado 2500, and easily beat the Ford F-250 in most areas (the lack of a modern engine being the main issue with the Dodge). Now, as Dodge prepares to roll out a new Ram lineup – with the 2500 not due for over a year – we had a chance to test out a Chevrolet Silverado 2500.… Read the rest

2001 Kia Rio vs the 2001 Dodge Neon

Kia Rio: Spunky, “tossable” little car with poor mileage. Fun, with good handling, but needs help in stereo, noise, brakes, and acceleration. Dodge Neon: sporty, quirky vents, good size for price, needs work in high-speed engine noise and mileage. 

The Kia Rio is the cheapest car you can buy in America, but it does not feel like the cheapest. Its handling and price both put the similarly-sized Toyota Corolla to shame. Its tight steering and snarly exhaust make it sound like a muscle car, but a muscle car never handled this well. The warranty is far better than any American car we know of, or, for that matter, most of the Japanese cars.

To be fair, major drawbacks are pokey acceleration – not bad by 1980s standards, but poor by today’s standards – and undersized brakes.… Read the rest