Trucks & SUVs

Was the Chevy SSR Actually a Good Truck?

The truck market is one of the most competitive segments of the auto industry and automakers have tried it all to win over customers. Sometimes it involved making muscle car trucks and other times, as Chevy did, it involved making a convertible pickup truck in the Chevy SSR. Here’s everything you need to know about this doomed convertible pickup.

A Chevy SSR on display on the red carpet
The Chevy SSR | Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli

What is the Chevy SSR?

While you can call the Chevy SSR simply a convertible pickup truck, that’s not all that it is. As TopSpeed said, it’s also a roadster, and while it’s a convertible, it’s also a retro-styled convertible to be precise. It was all those things and more, and Chevy developed the SSR in 2003 as a way to set its trucks apart from others. 

Like its muscle car pickup truck ancestors, the SSR was powered by what was at the time, a powerful engine. TopSpeed says that it debuted with a 5.3-liter V8 engine that generated over 300-hp and 335 lb-ft of torque. In its last model year of production, Chevy introduced a bigger and more powerful 6.0-liter V8 that generated 390-hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. 

These powerful engines allowed the SSR to accelerate from 0 to 60 MPH in 7.7 seconds with the 5.3-liter V8 and 5.3 seconds with the 6.0-liter V8. That said, despite this powerful engine, TruckTrend says that the SSR, even with its powerful 6.0-liter V8, could only tow about 2,500 lb of cargo and haul about 1,300 lb of goods in its truck bed. 

And in regards to the SSR’s truck bed, that’s also another unusual trait that it has. While it sports a very small 4-foot long truck bed, it also has a semi-permanent tonneau cover over its truck bed, according to TopSpeed. This cover may be good at keeping the SSR aerodynamic and speedy, but it also makes it a hassle to use as a proper work truck.

Not very practical

Folks who want a work truck can already see the writing on the wall just by looking at the SSR’s numbers. A towing capacity of 2,500 lb is simply less than what many modern SUVs can do, and a 4-foot truck bed can barely fit many of the things that a truck bed is actually used for. So while it’s obviously not a work truck, TopSpeed does commend the SSR for being a decent pleasure truck. 

TopSpeed said that the interior of the SSR had a lot of redeeming qualities and its powerful engine, along with its small size, meant that it was a pretty fast and fun truck to drive. But that came at a hefty price tag. TopSpeed says that the SSR, when it debuted, started at $42,000. By the time that Chevy and GM gave up on the SSR in 2006, the SSR could cost between $43,000 to $50,000 depending on the trim. 

Why the Chevy SSR failed

As with many things in business, the SSR simply failed because nobody wanted one. It was an experiment and obviously, it failed. There are many reasons why consumers didn’t want to buy the SSR though. 

For one, looking weird could’ve been a big factor why the SSR wasn’t very attractive to consumers. Another possible reason was because it wasn’t good enough at one thing to justify its high price tag. It wasn’t a great truck and it wasn’t a great convertible, either.

If Chevy had just picked a lane and stuck to it, the SSR may have found more success in its short life. Or, maybe like convertibles in general, the SSR was just part of a dying trend. So in all reality, the SSR is not really a good truck. Although, Chevy never really designed it to be a good truck in the first place.