The Chevrolet Camaro Convertible (along with the V8-powered SS model) re-entered the muscle car market in 2011 after a nine-year hiatus. It offers menacing, retro-flavored sheetmetal, a powerful yet frugal engine and - new for the latest model year - an available MyLink infotainment unit that can be spec'd with a navigation system.
The Camaro's cloth top is fully power-operated and can be raised or lowered in roughly 20 seconds. It takes up about a quarter of the trunk, although there's still 7.5 cubic feet of room left over.
When you chop off the roof of a vehicle a significant source of structural rigidity is lost, something GM engineers took into account with the Camaro SS Convertible model by adding a tower-to-tower strut brace under the hood, a transmission support reinforcement brace, additional underbody tunnel bracing and front and rear underbody "V" braces to help retain as much of the vehicles' driving dynamics at possible.
Even in base form, the Camaro is potent: power comes from a 3.6-liter V6 -- mated to either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission -- that produces 323 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque.
That output is 11 ponies more than the V6 the Camaro launched with. Chevrolet says the added power comes from a new cylinder head design, an improved intake port design, longer-duration intake camshafts, new fuel pump with isolated fuel rail, new and improved fuel injectors and camshaft cap and throttle body design improvements.
While it boasts more power than the V6 versions of the Ford Mustang Convertible, the V6-powered Camaro Convertible returns slightly lower fuel economy with 28 mpg on the highway, compared to the Mustang Convertible's 30 mpg. City fuel economy comes in at 17 for the six-speed manual, but gains one mpg to 18 city for the automatic.
Recent interior changes include a revised instrument panel layout, new instrument graphics and trim, a new steering wheel design and a power lift feature for the front passenger seat. There is also an available Rear Vision Package, which addresses the limited rearward visibility issue when backing up by adding a rearview camera system to the park assist functionality.
The Camaro features deep, recessed gauges, located in square housings outlined in chrome, giving a nod to the classic Camaro. The instrument panel gauges include both speedometer and engine rpm, with a driver information center located between the large gauges, with its readouts and features capable of being controlled via a stalk on the steering column. There is also an optional, console-mounted gauge package includes oil pressure, oil temperature, volts and transmission fluid temperature.
New to the Camaro is an optional MyLink infotainment system, which offers voice control of certain entertainment functions and includes Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and streaming audio via Pandora radio and Stitcher SmartRadio. MyLink comes with a color touchscreen and can be outfitted with navigation.
Trim Level Breakdown
The entry-level LS trim comes standard with power-adjustable front seats, a six-speaker FM/CM/CD/SiriusXM stereo, Bluetooth connectivity and 18-inch painted aluminum wheels. The LT adds leather upholstery, an eight-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system with a USB port, an auxiliary four-gauge cluster, a heads-up display, a rearview camera and 19-inch painted aluminum wheels.
An RS appearance package is available on the SS and includes HID headlamps with an integrated halo ring feature, spoiler, specific tail lamps and 20-inch wheels. There is also a recently added Rear Vision Package with combines Rear Park Assist, Rear Vision Camera and inside rearview auto-dimming mirror with built-in rearview camera display.
All Camaro models are equipped with dual front and front-side airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
Drop-top rivals to the Camaro Convertible include the Ford Mustang Convertible, the athletic Nissan 370Z Roadster and the smaller, more nimble Mazda MX-5 Miata.