• Body style: 4-passenger, rear drive convertible with lined, insulated power top
• Engine: aluminum 6.2-liter V-8
• Horsepower: 426 at 5,900 rpm
• Torque: 420 foot-pounds at 4,600 rpm
• Transmission: TR6060 6-speed manual
• EPA estimated fuel mileage: 16 mpg city, 24 hwy; premium fuel recommended, not required
• Standard equipment: power retractable cloth top with separate tonneau, air conditioning with pollen filter, 6-way power driver seat, 4-piston Brembo brakes, 4-gauge console pod, 9-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system, Bluetooth, USB port, heated front seats, leather-trimmed upholstery, integrated garage-gate opener, 20-inch wheels, Bluetooth, carpeted floor mats, rear spoiler
• Safety equipment: 4 air bags, Stabilitrak with traction control, ABS
• Wheelbase/length: 112.3/190.4 in.
• Front head/leg/shoulder room: 37.8/42.4/56.8 in.
• Curb weight: 3,849 lbs.
• Trunk capacity: 10.24 cubic feet to 7.8 cubic feet, top down
• Turning circle: 37.7 feet
• Base price: $40,500, including $875 freight charge; price as tested $41,700
• Options on test car: RS package, $1,200
It was an engaging week with the Camaro SS convertible. It is a balmy cruiser with a 426-horsepower V-8 and a huffing, chuffing, crackling and popping dual exhaust.
Sold in three trim levels with V-6 or V-8 engines and six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, pricing starts at $25,530. The SS RS test car with six-speed manual had a starting price of $40,500 — and with options was $41,700. Fourteen-inch Brembo brakes are a nice upgrade on the SS, which also has leather-trimmed upholstery and nine-speaker Boston Acoustics audio with USB and Bluetooth. The RS package, $1,200, adds 20-inch wheels, high-intensity headlights with the halo rings and RS taillights.
The SS treatment includes special front and rear fascias with a lower extension and rear diffusers, front scoop and brake-cooling slots.
This soft-top Chevy is attractive with the top up, but it's better naked and showing off its fine form. Power back the top and hit the road. This car may be the most comfortable convertible I have driven. Even with the test car's SS stiffer suspension, it sits back on the highway and rolls without bump, jump or shudder. And the seats, to my back side, are good for hours at a time. They are bolstered, but not as severely as those in the Dodge Challenger.
The top cycles dutifully in about 25 seconds and folds flat, unlike the Mustang's top that leaves the forward edge angled upward when fully retracted and peeking into the rear-view mirror.
The V-8 displacement is rich, but not required to enjoy the Camaro, and many auto writers prefer the V-6 with six-speed manual. The aluminum, double-overhead cam, 3.6-liter V-6 has direct injection, 312-hp and runs on 87 octane fuel, which returns fuel economy of 29 mpg on the highway and 17 mpg around town.
The V-6 is almost 200 pounds lighter than the SS, but the 6.2-liter V-8 cuts right to the chase. The gearing on the manual is sustainable around town and for highway loping. The clutch isn't hard and the gears are neatly engaged through a reasonably short-throw shifter. There is still that invasive "skip" shift from first to fourth, but you can blow by that with a stout push on the throttle. But would it have been a big expense to include a hill-holder for the manual? Fortunately, there is a sports-car style emergency brake on the console (not a foot pumper as in the Challenger) to use as a manual hill holder, if needed.
SS Camaros with the six-speed automatic get the 400-hp, L99 V-8 with Active Fuel Management. It runs on four or eight cylinders as needed, which bumps highway fuel economy to 25 mpg.
Air flow with the top down doesn't get much better, particularly when blasting along the highway — and that's without the optional wind blocker. The power top is insulated but without luxury-class soundproofing. And the test car's top had little, burbley air leaks at the front side windows.
The core values of the Camaro SS are just about what you might expect by looking at it: It is not a slalom scorching sports car. It has big doors, a big turning circle and big attitude. And the breathy V-8 lets owners sound fast without having to go fast.