2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe test drive

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2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe test driveAbout.com Rating 3 Star Rating Be the first to write a review From Jason Fogelson,

The Bottom Line There are plenty of practical, plain vehicles on the market right now, perfectly suited to a wide range of buyers who need to get from point A to point B with the minimum of fuss and bother.

The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS is not one of them.

Now in its second year back after an eight-year hiatus, the Camaro SS represents General Motors' salvo into the retro muscle car wars, following on the heels of the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger.

There have always been Ford guys, Mopar guys and Chevy guys. Camaro ss is good enough to attract the faithful, but may have arrived too late to win over any converts from the opposing camps.

Gorgeous exterior
Potent engine
Retro roots
Monster clutch
Giant blind spot
Miniscule back seat Camaro is in its second year as Chevrolet's compact sport coupe
Price range (including options): $22,680 - $43,280 EPA MPG estimates: 18 city/29 highway (V6 AT); 17/29 (V6 MT); 16/25 (V8 AT); 16/24 (V8 MT)
Best rivals: Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Guide Review - 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe test drive

Full disclosure: I'm a Chevy guy. I owned a beautiful 1972 Camaro with a 350 V8 and a three-speed automatic.

It was gorgeous, it was fast, and it was fun to drive. I still miss my old Camaro, and I wish I had never sold it. I've been looking forward to this new Camaro for years.

The new Camaro brings echoes of the first generation Camaro (1967 - 1969) with its exterior styling. The slot grille and inset headlights are a direct quote, as are the overall proportions.

The overall design is cohesive, assertive and cool, bulging with muscular detail and eye-catching in any color. My test vehicle was Camaro 2SS with a base price of $34,295 ($37,640 as tested).

It wore the $1,200 RS package of options, which included 20" staggered wheels (8" front/9" rear), HID headlights and RS tail lights. If it were my Camaro, I would have to schedule time in the driveway every weekend for a thorough wash, wax and admire session.

Inside, Camaro also manages to bring back the 1960s muscle car feel with a cool gauge package and retro details. Modern accents bring things up to date, with ambient lighting on the dash and doors lending a club vibe.

21st century conveniences like a tilt and telescope adjustable steering column, auto-dimming rear view mirror, power driver's seat and heated front seats make the Camaro more than a museum piece.

High tech standard features (on the 2SS) like Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a driver's information center in the instrument panel and a nifty head-up display elevate the package even further.

True to its roots, Camaro's back seat is useless, practically vestigial.

It would be a violation of the Geneva Convention to force an adult to ride back there for more than a few miles, and only a contortionist could install a child restraint seat, let alone a child.

Camaro's 11.3 cubic foot trunk is hampered by a tiny opening, but at least the space can be expanded into the cabin by flopping the rear seat back down.

Where the new Camaro totally destroys my classic Camaro is under the hood. Camaro SS's LS3 V8 displaces 6.2 liters (376 cubic inches), and is rated to produce 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque.

The old 350 cubic inch (5.7-liter) V8 in my 1972 Camaro probably sent 255 hp to the rear wheels on its best day, and I thought that was a lot.

All that horsepower delivers neck-snapping acceleration on demand, and requires incredible willpower not to blast away at every opportunity.

My test vehicle was equipped with a six-speed manual transmission with the heaviest clutch that I've experienced in years.

I got stuck in heavy stop-and-go traffic during a rainstorm one day, and I longed for the optional ($1,185) six-speed automatic transmission, even though it can only be hooked up to the slightly less potent L99 engine (400 hp/410 lb-ft of torque).

I'm a big fan of manual transmissions, but just one day trapped in traffic with this one turned me off entirely. Try before you buy.

Ultimately, the new Camaro doesn't have to compete with the old Camaro. It will get measured against the new Ford Mustang and the new Dodge Challenger. For my money, it's a bit of a tossup.

Mustang has the advantage of momentum, with incremental changes over the years having accumulated to create a real gem of a car.

Challenger gets the nod for most muscular appearance, but loses on the polish. Camaro is the best-looking of the three, but may have the most deadly flaws when it comes to day-to-day usability.

If I had to pick among the three, I might be tempted to spend my 37 grand on a nicely-restored 1972 Camaro, and go actual retro instead of neo-retro. Now, where did I put my bell bottoms? What a Muscle Car. Retrieved from online 11/4/2011, Jason Fogelson http://cars.about.com/od/chevrolet/gr/2011-Chevrolet-Camaro-Ss-Coupe-Test-Drive.htm Return from 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe test drive to Muscle Cars.

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