May 24, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 04 August 2011 13:40
The car that most symbolizes the recovery of Chevrolet and its parent company, General Motors, after the bad days of 2008 and ’09 surely is the revived Camaro, a muscle car from Chevrolet’s glory days almost a half century ago. The 2011 edition retains the style and personality that made the Camaro a favorite during the late 1960s, when American muscle cars ruled the road.
Our slice of Camaro summer came in June with the delivery of a bright red 2SS convertible — a Super Sport in every sense of the word. Under the hood rumbled a 6.2-liter, 426-horsepower V-8, linked to the rear wheels by a six-speed stick shift.We feared this Camaro wouldn’t have the same taut handling and crisp response of the hardtop Camaros we’d driven the previous year. But Chevrolet added structural-stiffening components to equalize the two driving experiences. For the casual driver, the convertible’s road manners are indistinguishable from those of the hardtop.
One must make certain concessions to the breed before committing to a Camaro. Although it’s technically a four-passenger coupe, the back seat is practically uninhabitable. The high beltline, narrow greenhouse and cloth top conspire to make visibility a challenge for most drivers. (That may be the reason Ultrasonic rear parking assist is standard.) The retro body style yields an extremely narrow trunk opening. And the price of all this style and power approaches $40,000. (For about $10,000 less, you can get into a 312-horsepower, V-6 powered Camaro convertible; the coupe starts at $23,200.)
The interior, featuring a four-pack of auxiliary gauges in the center console, is attractive and consistent with the Camaro’s retro-muscle theme. Major standard features include power retractable roof, satellite radio, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, telescoping and tilt steering wheel, leather upholstery, cruise control and heated front seats.
Our primary driver couldn’t embrace the full Camaro experience because a knee injury made for awkward transitions through the gearbox. The clutch has a heavy-duty feel and requires a strong, stable left leg.
Drivers who are in the market for retro American muscle can choose from the Camaro, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger. The latter offers the most in terms of riding comfort, ease of entry and egress, and interior room. But the car-buying public continues to show a preference for the Camaro, which through June had outsold the Mustang and Challenger combined.
Crash-test data aren’t available for the Camaro. Owners participating in Consumer Reports magazine surveys report above-average reliability.
Fuel economy is 16 mpg city, 24 highway, on premium gasoline. We landed about two ticks short of the high end in mostly highway driving.
Strong sales of the Camaro and Mustang in tough economic times testify to America’s enduring love affair with the muscle car. It is to the credit of Big Three management, so often reviled by the public, politicians and their own workers, that these cars ever roared back to life.
Engine: 6.2-liter V-8, 426 horsepower, 420 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Weight: 4,116 lb.
0-60 acceleration: 4.9 seconds
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 20x8-inch front, 20x9-inch rear, painted aluminum (RS package)
Tires: P245/45ZR20 front, P275/40ZR20 rear
Seating capacity: 4
Luggage capacity: 10.2 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 19 gallons
Fuel economy: 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway
Fuel type: Premium (recommended)
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