With 20 degree temperatures the norm on the East Coast, I welcomed the opportunity to warm things up a bit in sunny Southern California. The Camaro SS that I would be driving during my Winter vacation also raised my expectations for a fabulous trip! So did it excite or disappoint? Let’s find out!
In the looks department, the all new Camaro SS is a winner. The low roof line and overall design are a nod to the vintage Camaro, but the whole package comes off looking fresh and fun. I’m usually not crazy about fake non-functioning louvers, but the two behind the doors add a bit of aggression to the Camaro’s look.
I also like the racing stripes that run across the top of the Camaro from the hood to the trunk. They don’t look over the top on the SS, they just seem to accentuate the fact that this Camaro means business.
The trunk is not huge, but it will swallow up a surprising amount of luggage. It had no problem handling my carry on suitcase, backpack and various antiques that I found among the cool antique and thrift stores of Hollywood.
The retro modern styling carries over into the interior. Inside the Camaro SS you are greeted by comfortable two tone leather seats and a very business like dash and gage layout. The tachometer and speedometer are front and center and you also get an information display to keep you informed. It even lists the artist and song title when a new song comes on.
Underneath the climate control and behind the shifter are four gages. The two on the left are for oil temperature and pressure, while the two on the right serve as a voltmeter and transmission temperature gage.
At night the interior takes on a different persona which is actually pretty cool. The gages glow in a light blue hue and the line of color flows straight through to the door panels which are accentuated by a what appears to be a wrap around beam of light. A very cool modern touch that brings the Camaro firmly into the technology era!
Chevrolet keeps the option list simple, and you wont find dual zone climate control or heated seats, but the system can be easily adjusted to keep you comfortable in any weather conditions.
Controls on the steering wheel operate the cruise control, blue tooth and radio volume and stations / track selector. The overall fit and finish might not be quite as high end as the Dodge Challenger R/T that I tested earlier, but the Camaro SS is quicker and less expensive as well.
The Camaro SS is powered by a 426 horsepower 6.2 liter V8 which produces 420 lbs ft of torque. The automatic is quicker to 60 mph than the 6 speed manual (taking just 4.6 seconds), but the manual wins the sprint to the 1/4 mile with a time of 13 seconds even, a tenth of a second quicker than the auto. Fuel economy should average 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
In the auto, you have the option to shift via the auto shift knob by moving it all the way towards you and selecting the “M” manual sport mode. This increases the shift points and makes the Camaro SS come alive with more power and quicker response.
You can also shift gears yourself, and get the same result via two buttons on the back of the steering wheel. Of course in the automatic, you can also just leave it in drive and just cruise!
But of course it is not all about speed, in this economy everyone is looking for a bargain, and the Camaro does not disappoint! The V6 version starts out at just under $23,000 and the SS can be had for just under $31,000.
Once you get underway, you also have the option of a heads up display. This is a digital readout of your current speed, outside temperature and directional heading which helps you keep your eyes on the road. You can adjust it up or down depending on your height and you can also set the brightness. It’s pretty cool and even tells you the artist song and title when a new tune comes on!
Unlike the vintage Camaro, the modern SS version handles the twisty roads with aplomb thanks to indepedent suspension. It pulls an impressive .92 G’s on the skid pad. It also felt rock solid in a rare Southern California rain storm at highway speeds. Whether cruising Sunset Boulevard on a Saturday night or winding it out on your local track day, the Camaro SS delivers driver satisfaction in spades.
Unlike many of today’s exotics, enthusiasm can be seen in the Camaro’s many admirers as you go about your daily business. It’s not overly posh, but it exudes speed, confidence and a sense of nostalgia in a way that really anyone can appreciate.
It felt like the perfect car for Southern California cruising around the Hollywood Hills, winding down the Pacific Coast Highway or pulling up to the valet parking at the Commerce Casino.
The negatives are few with the Camaro. It might take you a bit of time to find the door lock switch which is located in the center of the dash, and the steering wheel controls are not ergonomically perfect thanks to the extreme raked design of the wheel itself. But I think the steering wheel exhibits the same design philosophy as the low roof line.
Sure the steering wheel and low roof line might not make the Camaro the most usable car on the market, sure the raked roof will make it tough for some adults to fit in the back seats, but that’s not really the point! It’s like a woman in high heeled shoes. Sure they are probably uncomfortable to wear, but she sure looks great when she’s wearing them!
The only thing missing is the option of having a navigation system which would have been helpful getting me around LA. Fortunately my Droid is equipped with navigation, so I was always able to get where I was going after all!
The Camaro SS has some stiff competition from the likes of the Dodge Challenger and the Ford Mustang but I think it fairs well in the competition It’s certainly the quickest of the bunch and its also very reasonably priced. The Camaro SS is really the perfect mix of nostalgia and current technology all in an irresistible modern mobile muscle car sculpture.