Weidel on Wheels: Love to drive? You’ll love the Camaro Convertible

By: Jeffrey Weidel
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Although it disappeared from production for seven years, the Chevrolet Camaro must have been missed judging by the number of eyeballs I got while testing out the 2011 convertible. For many older car aficionados, and some new ones, the Camaro represents a time when fast cars were very much revered. The Camaro was among the original “muscle” cars (joined by the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger) that every young male driver wanted to own and every parent feared the worst when their son got behind the wheel. Despite a shift to less idolization for cars 35 years after the Camaro debuted in 1966, this is still a vehicle that turns heads with its sex appeal and intoxicating sound that emanates from its powerful engine. So just how powerful is the attractive new Camaro, which is offered in a four-seat coupe or convertible? It can take one places in a gigantic hurry. The Camaro 2SS gobbles up pavement at a brisk pace, thanks to its 6.2-liter, V-8 engine with 426 horsepower. The 2SS version, with a six-speed manual transmission that comes standard, can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a mere five seconds. Yes, the Camaro is plenty quick. If those numbers appear a little daunting, then dial back the performance a bit with the LS/LT model that has a 3.6-liter, V-6 with 312 horsepower. By choosing the less powerful Camaro, the savings can be staggering. The basic LS model goes for a low of $22,805, while the Camaro 2SS convertible runs just a shade under $40,000. That’s a hefty price that must have old Camaro enthusiasts thinking very hard before pulling the trigger on a purchase. There are other reasons to hesitate before buying as well. Although a definite treat on a weekend drive, such as the one taken here along S-curve Highway 1 in Marin County, and later some fun-filled back roads in Sonoma County, there are some drawbacks. The backseat is unsuitable for adults. It’s cramped with very little legroom, and headroom is limited severely by the slopping roofline that also contributes to poor rearview visibility. And don’t plan on carrying much luggage for a trip because the trunk has a tiny opening and very little room. And leave the golf clubs at home — they simply won’t fit. The Camaro interior has a somewhat retro look with its gauges. The look may be appealing, but using a lot of hard plastic is a definite turnoff. But let’s remember why people want to own a Camaro. It features an abundance of power and possesses a refined suspension that makes it corner with tremendous assurance. For people who love to drive, the Camaro’s pluses far outweigh the negatives. __________ 2011 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS Convertible Price: $39,650 Power: 6.2-liter, V-8 engine with 426 horsepower Mileage estimate: 16 mpg city; 24 mpg highway Standard features include: OnStar system; stability and traction control; retractable convertible top; daytime running lights; automatic headlights; four-way manual front seats with power recline; tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; heated front seats; premium eight-speaker audio system with CD player, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio; stability control