The pony car wars are back in full swing. I covered this with the review of the Camaro V6. I will not focus as much on the pony car wars rather, the focus will be on the Camaro SS itself. The Camaro has been enjoying brisk sales. Most are leaving the dealers lots at full MRSP. The new Camaro continues to outsell both the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger each month since it has re-arrived on the scene, it would be fair to say the Camaro has been a hit so far.
This car is based on the Zeta platform, which is not a light platform. Pair that with sophisticated independent suspension set up, and you end up with a heavy car. To say this car is a porker, well, it would be justified. It needs to call up a weight loss clinic and lose about 500 lbs quick. The SS I had was equipped with a manual 6 speed transmission. The cars official weight, according to General Motors, is 3849 lbs! The Camaro SS is slightly heavier then the V6, and the extra weight is sitting directly above the front wheels. You can directly feel this weight when driving aggressively.
The car I had was a 2SS with a few nice option packages including the RS package, interior accent trim package, cyber grey metallic stripe package, 20″ polished aluminum wheels, and inferno orange metallic paint. The RS package is $1200, and for that you get 20″ flangeless painted aluminum wheels, body-color roof ditch molding, high intensity discharge headlights (xenons) with halo rings, and RS unique tail lights.
I like that the xenons that come with this package are bi-xenon. They do not list them as such. That means both the high and low beams are xenon, vs having the high beams be regular halogens. The polished wheel package replaced the regular painted aluminum wheels that come with the RS package for $400. The most interesting of the options was the combination of the inferno orange metallic exterior paint and the interior accent trim package. This combination had the interior swathed in inferno orange from the stitching to the black and orange seats. Also, we can not forget the orange plastic moldings. This made for a very bright interior. At first it was a little much, but as the week went on the orange interior grew on me.
The big draw to the SS is the engine. Equipped with the lovely and ever versatile 6.2L LS3 pushrod V8 from the base Corvette. In the Camaro SS the LS3 is slightly detuned to 426 hp and 420 lb-ft with the manual transmission.
When equipped with an automatic, the engine is no longer the LS3 rather the L99, putting out 400 hp and 410 lb-ft. There is no question this engine is good for much more power with a slight electronics adjustment and some upgrades like superchargers and cold air intakes. The car can handle the power just fine. Rated at 4.7 seconds 0-60, the car is no slouch at the drag strip. Seat of the pants puts you in the range though it feels a tick slower due to the heft the car has about it. The car is rated at 16/24 mpg, and I can honestly say I topped the highway rating. I took the Camaro on a road trip down to Des Moines, IA. On the way there I managed a respectable 21.2 mpg average. That was ok, but on the way back I averaged 25.2 mpg, which I was truly impressed with. I had the cruise control set at 75mph both ways. With the cruise control set at 60 mph, I would venture a bet you could get close to 28mpg.
This car could just possibly be the national symbol for thumbs up. Everywhere I went someone was giving me a thumbs up. I blew past a man in a Jeep Liberty, he was craning his neck to see the car so hard I thought he was going to drive off the road. Everyone wants to look inside and tell you about their Camaro story from back in the day. Do not go to the mall and expect to walk right in. Someone will stop you to talk about the car.
I mentioned the interior in the last review and aside from the inferno orange trim package the interior is the same. I love the retro styling that Chevrolet has done with the interior. The graining on the materials is decent looking, but the materials themselves are very hard and cold. The Mustang has the upper hand when it comes to technology when you consider the available touch screen navigation and Microsoft Sync system.
I hope for the next generation that General Motors can find a way to shed some major weight. They could use more high strength steel, or more exotic materials. Maybe they should just dip into the Corvette’s parts bin. Make some body panels out of composite or better yet, carbon fiber. A sticking point could become using more exotic materials becomes expensive quickly. This car is not at a high price point for what you are getting.
The take aways after driving this Camaro for a week were pretty clear to me. First, you always get out feeling like you drove an American hero or a national icon. Second, the interior materials could use an upgrade in the next generation along with an overall diet. Third, muscle cars can now do more than just a straight line. Fourth and final, the American public has spoken and they love love the new Camaro!