3.6L V-6 DI VVT (LFX)
6.2L V-8 (LS3, L99)
Displacement (cu in / cc):
217 / 3564
376 / 6162
Bore & stroke (in / mm):
3.70 x 3.37 / 94 x 85.6
4.06 x 3.62 / 103.25 x 92
cast aluminum w/ cast-in-place iron bore liners
cast aluminum w/ cast-in-place iron bore liners
Cylinder head material:
DOHC; four valves per cylinder; continuously variable valve timing’
overhead valve; two valves per cylinder; roller lifters; Active Fuel Management (L99)
electronic individual coil-on-plug; individual cylinder knock control and extended-life platinum-tipped spark plugs
direct fuel injection
sequential fuel injection
10.7:1 (LS3); 10.4:1 (L99)
(hp / kW @ rpm):
323 / 241 @ 6800
426 / 318 @ 5900 (LS3)*
400 / 298 @ 5900 (L99)*
(lb-ft / Nm @ rpm):
278 / [email protected] 4800
420 / 569 @ 4600 (LS3)*
410 / 556 @ 4300 (L99)*
premium recommended not required
Maximum engine speed (rpm):
evaporative emissions system, catalytic converter, equal-length exhaust, dual close coupled and dual under floor catalytic converters, positive crankcase ventilation, intake and exhaust cam phasers, electronic throttle control
evaporative system, close-coupled catalytic converters, positive crankcase ventilation, electronic throttle control
EPA-estimated fuel economy (city / hwy):
18 / 29 (auto)
19 / 30 (auto, 2LS model)
17 / 28 (man)
16 / 25 (auto)
16 / 24 (man)
There was a new muscle-car war going between the Big-Three from Detroit. The Chevrolet design department did an excellent job by taking the classic '69 Camaro and transformed it into a new vehicle. The retro-style design worked well, and soon the market was flooded by V-6 Camaros roaring around streets everywhere. But the pure petrolheads had to wait longer for the SS version.
While the marketing department did a great job by promoting the Camaro into the Transformers movie, but the true confirmation of the car's performance was the LS3-powered Camaro SS. The design department added an air-intake on the high-lifted hood and a wider lower grille in the bumper when compared to the V-6 version. A set of stripes was available, but the 19" wheels were standard. In the back, the carmaker installed a wider splitter between the two round exhausts.
Inside, Chevrolet installed nice leather seats fitted as standard and a premium Boston Acoustic sound system. But the cheap plastic used for the doors, dashboard, and center console spoiled the car's look. The retro-design used for the dials and gauges might have been looked better if they were not made with such cheap materials.
GM considered that the platform would be the winning combination and will attract the most buyers. For that, it offered the SS in two versions: manual and automatic. A 426 hp LS3 engine powered the former, while the latter featured a 400 hp L99 unit. For the automatic transmission, Chevrolet opted for an Aisin six-speed gearbox. Both versions featured independent suspension in all corners and upgraded Brembo brakes with four pistons at the front.
2SS 2dr Coupe
2012 Chevrolet Camaro Specs
|Front head room||37 "|
|Rear head room||35 "|
|Front shoulder room||57 "|
|Rear shoulder room||50 "|
|Front leg room||42.4 "|
|Rear leg room||29.9 "|
|Luggage capacity||11.3 cu.ft.|
|Maximum cargo capacity||11.3 cu.ft.|
|Body width||75.5 "|
|Body height||54.2 "|
|Fuel tank capacity||19.0 gal.|
|EPA mileage estimates||16 City / 24 Hwy|
|Base engine size||6.2 liters|
|Base engine type||V-8|
|Turning radius||18.9 ''|
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Ss 2012 automatic camaro horsepower
Clean Retail Price
The MT clean retail price reflects a reasonable asking price by a dealership for a fully reconditioned vehicle (clean title history, no defects, minimal wear) with average mileage.
|5-Year Cost to Own / Rating|
|$23,280||$12,168||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$23,280||$12,168||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$25,280||$13,243||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$30,180||$13,993||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$32,280||$15,993||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$38,330||$17,568||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$54,095||$26,543||Coming Soon / N.A.|
Chevrolet Camaro Expert Review
The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro joins rivals Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger as a retro-inspired muscle car, but also faces new competitors from Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. Back in the 2000s, the Camaro took a seven-year hiatus. When it was rereleased in 2010, the reimagined Camaro was more powerful than other sport coupes, and promptly became the bestseller in the segment.
The muscle car body is based on General Motors' Zeta rear-wheel drive platform. The 2012 Camaro has a long 112.3-inch wheelbase, 190.4-inch overall length, and weighs 3700-3900 pounds. The muscle car's weight makes it feels less like a "pony" car than the original 1967-1969 models.
The 426-horsepower Camaro SS (400 horsepower with the automatic transmission) should satisfy most enthusiasts, but if that's not enough the all-new 2012 Camaro ZL1 packs a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 with 580 horsepower and a class-exclusive Magnetic Ride Control suspension. All three engine choices upstage the competition from Ford, Dodge and Hyundai, at least on paper. A convertible model was added last year to take on the Mustang.
Body styles: Coupe, Convertible
Engines: 3.6L V-6, 6.2L V-8, supercharged 6.2L V-8
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic.
Models: LS, LT, 2LT, SS, 2SS, ZL1
The Camaro gains a special 45th Anniversary package featuring hood and deck lid stripes, badging and unique 20-inch wheels. The 3.6-liter V-6 is 20 pounds lighter and power has increased to 323 horsepower (up 11) and up to 30 mpg highway. The Camaro SS gains a performance suspension option. All cars receive a new steering wheel design and revised instrument panel. A rearview camera is added to the optional rear park assist. LS and LT trims get a standard rear spoiler. Crystal Red Tintcoat replaces Red Jewel Tintcoat. The big news for 2012 is the arrival of the 580-horsepower ZL1 model.
The long-hood, short-deck, retro-inspired Camaro features creased body lines and wide fenders giving it the classic-muscle car stance, while looking new and modern. LS and LT models get a rear spoiler standard. A new 45th Anniversary Special Edition is available on 2LT and 2SS models. All anniversary cars come in Carbon Flash Metallic (black) and unique rally stripe in red and silver, with 45th Anniversary graphics on the stripes, fender emblems, exclusive deep-silver 20-inch wheels, RS-style taillight lenses, HID headlights, and body-color roof molding. Crystal Red Tintcoat replaces Red Jewel Tintcoat for 2012. The new high-performance ZL1 trim level has a redesigned front fascia with splitter and vertical fog lights and brake cooling ducts. The Camaro also has an aluminum hood with a carbon fiber hood extractor. The hood's center section is finished in satin black carbon fiber. Around back the ZL1 has a diffuser and spoiler for better aerodynamics.
The retro theme carries over to the interior of the Camaro. The square gauges are recessed deep in their housing. Console-mounted gauges are optional on LS and SS models and standard on 2LT and 2SS models. The 45th Anniversary package included leather seats with anniversary logo, and red, white and, blue stitching. Instrument panel and door trim inserts are white. The anniversary logo can also be found on the steering wheel and sill plates. A six-speaker audio system is standard and a Boston Acoustics nine-speaker audio system is optional on LT and SS. Bluetooth is available, as is a head-up display that projects turn-by-turn navigation and audio information onto the windshield.
The Camaro, SS, and new ZL1 are more powerful than their rivals, but its excessive weight hampers performance. In Motor Trend testing the 426-horsepower manual-equipped SS ran a 13.1-second quarter-mile at 110.8 mph. Its handling is also impressive, but feels heavy. The Camaro SS gains a performance suspension option. The V-6 engine loses 20 pounds, but gains 11 horsepower for 2012 (now at 323). It handles almost as well as the SS while offering decent performance and better fuel efficiency--now up to 30 mpg highway. The 580-horsepower ZL1 will be available early calendar-year 2012 and comes standard with Magnetic Ride Control suspension for more control and better handling. The V-6 version offers decent performance, and you won't give up much handling compared to the SS.
The Camaro comes with six airbags standard, including side curtain air bags. StabiliTrak dynamic stability control, four-wheel disc brakes with hydraulic brake assist are standard across the range. SS models step up to Brembo four-piston calipers. The ZL1 takes braking a notch further with 14.6-inch two-piece front rotors clamped by six-piston calipers and 14.4-inch rear rotors with four-piston calipers. The ZL1 introduces an all-new electric power steering system to the Camaro. The chassis features crumple zones and all cars come with a tire pressure monitoring system standard
V-6: 17 mpg city/28 mpg highway (manual); 18 mpg city/29 mpg highway (automatic)
2LS V-6: 19 mpg city/30 mpg highway (automatic)
SS V-8: 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway (manual); 15 mpg city/24 mpg highway (automatic)
ZL1 Supercharged V-8: N.A.
- Straight-line performance
- Cornering grip
- Interior space
- Weighty feel
- Complicated option sheet
Affordable sport coupe improves
- Ford Mustang
- Dodge Challenger
- Hyundai Genesis coupe
- BMW 3 Series
- Audi A5/S5
2012 Chevrolet Camaro
It's the 45th year of Camaro, an icon from the day it was born as a 1967 model. To commemorate, there's a 2012 Camaro SS 45th Anniversary edition with a powerful V8. The standard V6 has been upgraded for 2012, and a new ZL1 is available.
Camaro convertibles are equipped like the coupes but feature a soft top fitted with acoustical foam in the headliner to minimize noise with the top up. This latest-generation Camaro was designed from the outset to include convertible models, and reinforcements were added in four key areas to increase rigidity.
2012 Camaro LS and Camaro LT models come with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that's been revamped with many improvements. For 2012, there's a new cylinder head design with integrated exhaust manifolds, improved intake ports, larger intake valves, longer-duration camshafts, a composite intake manifold, new fuel pump, optimized-flow fuel injectors, cylinder block enhancements, stronger and lighter connecting rods, and finally a cleaned up camshaft cap and throttle body. This new engine makes 323 horsepower, 11 more than before, and it weighs 20.5 pounds less.
The revised V6 delivers better fuel mileage for the 2012 Camaro LS; the 2LS model, which uses a tall 2.92 rear axle ratio, gets an EPA-estimated 19/30 miles per gallon City/Highway. In terms of power, the V6 can pretty much pass for a V8, a bonus for the price. The V6 on 2012 models revs to 7200 rpm, which is 200 rpm sweeter than before. The V6 offers a choice between 6-speed manual transmission and 6-speed automatic (with semi-manual shifting).
Camaro SS uses the 6.2-liter Corvette V8, making 400 horsepower with a 6-speed automatic or 426 horsepower with a Tremec 6-speed manual gearbox (same as Corvette). The SS uses firmer shocks, springs and anti-roll bars than the V6 models, but the ride doesn't suffer for it. A limited-slip rear differential is included to reduce wheel spin when trying to put all that power down. With the optional 6-speed TAPshift manual automatic transmission, the SS uses a slightly different 6.2-liter V8, with Active Fuel Management. It makes only 400 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque.
The 2012 Camaro SS 45th Anniversary edition comes in black (Carbon Flash Metallic), with retro reddish-orange stripes on the bulging hood and deck, new 20-inch painted aluminum wheels, and special interior trim with 45th anniversary badging.
Stealing the headlines is the uber high-performance 2012 Camaro ZL1, making 580 horsepower by adding a supercharger to its 6.2-liter V8. It can accelerate from zero to 60 in 3.0 seconds and hit 184 mph, according to Chevrolet. While testing at the Nurburgring, the Camaro ZL1 set a lap record, beating the Porsche 911 GT3. At $55k the ZL1 is cheap, given its level of performance. GM is proving something to the likes of Porsche, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and Maserati.
We found the handling, ride and brakes to be excellent in both the Camaro LT with the V6 and the Camaro SS with the big V8, although the SS suspension is stiffer and its 20-inch tires are firmer. The chassis structure is rigid, helping make turn-in precise for a car this size; grip is secure, and damping is solid and supple. We never encountered a harsh moment with the ride, in either model, during a full day of hard driving east of San Diego in both of them, and later a full week in the Pacific Northwest with a 426 horsepower Camaro SS with the 6-speed. We found the handling balance of the Camaro SS excellent.
As for the brakes, the Camaro LT stops superbly. The Camaro SS uses four-piston Brembo brakes, but because it's 200 pounds heavier, the stopping distance isn't much shorter. However, the Brembos with four-piston calipers make the brakes on the SS more resistant to fade, important on race tracks and mountain roads where the brakes are being used repeatedly.
The automatic transmission does what you tell it to do when using the TAPshift manual feature, nothing more. We love that. But the 6-speed manual transmission with the V6 is the most all-around usable sporty combination. We like the manual with the V6 because 426 horsepower is overkill on the street. The gearbox is solid but not quite slick, and the throws are shorter than some. The 6-speed shifts nicely, including easily down into first gear for hairpin turns.
Inside, the cabin is quiet, so 80 mph feels more like 70. Interior materials are good, but the instrumentation is disappointing, with GM still trying to be retro rather than clean with gauges. The bucket seats are comfortable, with decent bolstering. The front seat slides 8.5 inches and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes, so drivers of all sizes will fit, most notably Camaro's many female buyers. The standard cloth upholstery is good, with excellent leather available in black, gray, beige, and two-tone Inferno Orange. The windows are small, with high doorsills for safety, and the A-pillars wide, so it makes the cockpit feel a bit like a cave. Visibility through the windshield is compromised by the long hood and raked windshield, although careful location of the driver's seat helps. Rear visibility over the driver's shoulder isn't very good, but then it's impossible to make it good with a roofline this sporty. Rear seat legroom measures a meager 29.9 inches, so you'll want to avoid sitting back there.
Camaro LS ($23,200) comes with the 3.6-liter V6 and 6-speed manual transmission. Not a bare-bones model, the Camaro LS comes with cloth upholstery, manually operated air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, cruise control, telescopic steering wheel, six-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 sound system, Bluetooth, OnStar with turn-by-turn route guidance for six months, limited slip differential, 18-inch steel wheels. (Prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices and do not include the destination charge.) The 2LS ($1,200) comes with the 6-speed automatic transmission with TapShift manual controls on the steering wheel and a 2.92:1 axle ratio and rear spoiler.
Camaro LT ($25,200) upgrades with sport cloth seats, six-way power front seats, foglamps and integral front fascia, and 18-inch painted aluminum wheels. The 2LT ($28,350) includes leather upholstery and 9-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system, Head Up display, rearview camera, 19-inch aluminum wheels, and the gauge cluster with oil temp, oil pressure, volts, and transmission fluid temperature.
Camaro SS ($31,850) features the 6.2-liter V8, a Tremec 6-speed manual gearbox (same as Corvette) with limited slip differential, and the Sport cloth seats. The SS has special exterior trim, a beefier suspension, 20-inch painted aluminum wheels, and four-piston Brembo disc brakes. The 2SS ($3,600) upgrades to leather-appointed seats, heated front seats, rearview camera, multi-function auxiliary gauges, head-up display, Bluetooth, PDIM wireless auxiliary device control, Universal home remote, steering wheel-mounted controls, auto-dimming mirror, heated mirrors. There's a new optional suspension package for the SS models, called FE4. The 45th Anniversary package ($1,375) includes the retro hood and deck stripes, HID headlamps with integrated LED halo rings, 20-inch aluminum wheels, and interior trim with accent stitching and anniversary logos.
Camaro ZL1 adds a supercharger to the 6.2-liter V8 to get a mind-bending 580 horsepower and 556 foot-pounds of torque, with traction control and magnetic ride control.
Camaro LT Convertible ($30,100) and Camaro SS Convertible ($37,900) are equipped similarly to the coupes. Nine production exterior colors are available, with tops in black or tan.
Safety equipment on all Camaros includes electronic stability control with traction control, anti-lock brakes, frontal airbags, front side airbags, airbag curtains, and tire pressure monitor. A rearview camera is optional.
This latest-generation Camaro, completely redesigned for 2010, captures the look of the original '67, though it's bigger in every dimension: longer, wider and taller.
Viewed head-on, classic 1969 Camaro headlights appear. Behind the shark nose with black mesh grille, up on the long aluminum hood, there is a suggestive power bulge for the V8 engine. It's the long hood and shark nose that catch your eye and trigger your longing. The SS has an additional wide and thin black simulated intake on the nose.
Slight twin humps on the roof are visible at the top of the steeply raked 67-degree windshield that helps produce a 0.37 Cd in the LS and LT, and 0.35 Cd in the SS.
Viewed from the rear, and especially from above, the lines suggest the 1963 fastback split-window Corvette. That classic Corvette made a strong impression on the Camaro's young designer, Sang Yup Lee, who came to the U.S. from Korea as a boy and grew up in the California car culture.
Styling gills located just forward of the rear wheels add a nice touch to the Camaro. Even though the power dome hood and cooling gills are not functional, they all work as touches of style and don't come across as phony.
The shapely strong hips stand out, like the long hood, an edgy element the designer is most proud of, because they took so much work. He said it took 113 tries to get the one-piece sheetmetal right, from the doors and pinched beltline rearward. There's no indifferent craftsmanship with this car, that's for sure.
The rigid B-pillar is blacked-out, thus creating a clean outline for the side glass, blending into a handsome hardtop roofline. The short rear deck climbs upward and looks hot. The twin taillights look like blinking red sunglasses in each corner, under the small lip of a rear spoiler.
The convertible chassis is reinforced to stiffen the body structure, with a cross brace under the hood to connect the front shock towers, a transmission brace, an underbody tunnel brace, and underbody V-shaped braces front and rear. This helps the convertible ride and handle more like the coupe. Chevrolet says the convertible chassis is rigid enough that the suspension didn't need to be changed from the coupe, and that the Camaro convertible has more torsional stiffness than the BMW 3 Series convertible.
Designers and engineers erased the appearance of ribs in the convertible top, by using composite rather than aluminum knuckles, extending the material below the beltline, and revising the stitch lines. The result is a top that appears smooth, taut and carefully tailored, while retaining the sleek roofline of the coupe.
The cabin is oriented more around style than function.
The standard cloth bucket seats are good, although the bolstering isn't fully there for hard cornering. It's a tough compromise to make, given the spectrum of Camaro buyers. The low bolsters make getting in and out of the Camaro easier. Excellent leather upholstery is available in black, gray, beige and two-tone Inferno Orange, and interior materials are good. The front seat slides 8.5 inches and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes, so drivers of all sizes will fit. The stitched leather wrap on the steering wheel is nice, and the wheel itself has been changed for 2012.
The instrumentation graphics have been revised for 2012, and the new instruments are better. A recessed speedometer and tachometer are set in square housings, a nod to the classic Camaro interior. Between those two big gauges is a driver information center controlled via a stalk on the steering column.
The climate control buttons on the center stack appear to have been designed for looks, and thus aren't as functional as they could or should be. An optional console-mounted gauge package includes oil pressure, oil temperature, volts and transmission fluid temperature. The information is good, although the location down by the driver's knee makes it difficult to see while driving.
The windows are small and the A-pillars are wide, so it makes the cabin feel a bit cave-like. Visibility through the windshield is compromised by the long hood and raked windshield, although careful location of the driver's seat helps. Rear visibility over the driver's shoulder isn't very good, but then it's impossible to make it good with a roofline this sporty.
The trunk is deep but the opening isn't large and it's almost flat. This compromise is worth it for the handsome rear deck. There's a pass-through to the trunk behind the rear seat, which isn't easy to crawl into, and feels like a pit.
Rear-seat legroom measures 29.9 inches, a distinction, as few cars today break below that 30-inch mark. You'll want to avoid riding in the back seat.
The convertible top is made of thick, durable canvas. An acoustical headliner material is designed to provide a quiet, coupe-like ride when the top is up, and the soft top incorporates a glass rear window and rear window defogger. The power folding convertible top retracts in about 20 seconds. It folds in a simple Z-pattern and latches with a single handle located at the center of the windshield header. The transmission doesn't have to be in Park for the top to be activated, allowing fast lowering while stopped at a red light, or when it starts raining in a dead-stop traffic jam.
The Camaro chassis is engineered well. The rigid structure makes the turn-in precise for a car this size; the grip is secure, and the damping is solid and supple, with both the V6 (FE2 suspension) and firmer V8 (FE3). The front suspension uses struts, and the rear is an independent multi-link that's rubber isolated.
The Camaro is a hefty car, 3860 pounds for the V8 and 3800 for the V6, so the handling couldn't be called nimble, just secure and satisfying. The new Mustang is nearly 300 pounds lighter, and feels it.
We never encountered a harsh moment with the ride, in either the LT or the SS. We spent week in a 426-hp SS in the Pacific Northwest, and before that one day driving east of San Diego, where we had the chief designer, Canadian Gene Stafanyshyn, riding shotgun and giving us the backstory. He's the guy you can thank for the true programming of the TAPshift manual automatic transmission. It does what you tell it to do, nothing more. We love that. Stafanyshyn said he too hates manual automatic transmissions that shift on their own.
One especially nice thing about the transmission is that when you're in sixth gear on the freeway and lightly accelerate, it won't kick down when it doesn't need to. It uses its sufficient torque.
The Camaro LT with its 3.6-liter V6 shines. We said it was the future in 2010, and we must have been right because now, two years later, other manufacturers (most notably Ford) have powerful and efficient new V6 engines. The Chevy V6 sounds sweet and gets 30 miles per gallon highway with the 6-speed automatic and optional 2.92 rear axle ratio. With the standard 3.27 gear, it accelerates from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds, and will do the quarter mile in 14.4 seconds, which is quick in anyone's book.
The LT will also stop from 60 mph in a superb 106 feet, as measured by Motor Trend magazine, or 128 feet according to GM. Surprisingly, the SS with its four-piston Brembo brakes doesn't do much better, but the Brembos can be used harder without fade. And the vented rotors are huge, 14 inches front and 14.4 inches rear on the SS, compared to the LT's matching fronts and 11.8-inch rears.
The V6 LT with a 6-speed manual gearbox is the most versatile sporty engine-transmission matchup. The gearbox is smooth if not buttery, and easily shifts down into first gear for hairpin turns. Chevrolet says the throws are short, yet there's a Hurst short-throw shifter available as a dealer option. We'll take it. We tested it in the Shelby Mustang, and it made a world of difference.
Two 6.2-liter V8 engines are offered in Camaro SS models: the 426-horsepower LS3 is paired with manual gearboxes, while the 400-horsepower L99 comes in cars with automatics. Both engines are derived from the engine that debuted on the 2008 Corvette, with an aluminum block with cast iron cylinder liners, and aluminum heads. The L99 features the Active Fuel Management System, which saves fuel by shutting down half of the engine's cylinders during certain light-load driving conditions, such as highway cruising.
The Camaro SS is humongous fast, so if you're driving it hard, you're deep into the danger zone with the law or you're on a race track. Its throaty exhaust turns heads. The SS with the manual transmission and 426-horsepower engine revs to 6600 rpm, while the automatic with its 400 horsepower only revs to an underachieving 6000.
It's hard to say who wins the perennial muscle-car battle between the Camaro, Mustang GT, and Dodge Challenger; those with a favorite aren't likely to change their minds. But a battle of the stats gives the Mustang the edge, with its beautiful new 32-valve 5.0-liter engine. We think it's more enjoyable to drive, too. The Mustang wins the pounds-per-horsepower battle, 8.7 to 9.1 (412/3580 vs. 426/3860), but the Camaro SS still wins in the quarter-mile, 13.0 to 13.2. Not that two tenths of a second makes any difference in how much you enjoy your car.
The Chevrolet Camaro offers all the classic benefits of a Camaro: striking lines, powerful engines, great transmissions, superb handling and ride, good V6 gas mileage, great prices. Interior visibility is limited, pinched because of the car's shape. And the back seats are not for adults. The front seats are good, but the retro-wannabe instrumentation will leave you flat if you're looking for function. In short, drivers who have wanted a Camaro will not be disappointed.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Sam Moses drove the Camaro coupe and convertible models near San Diego and in the Pacific Northwest.
|Model Line Overview|
|Model lineup:||Chevrolet Camaro LS ($23,200); LT Coupe (425,200), LT Convertible ($30,100); SS Coupe ($31,850), SS Convertible ($37,900); ZL1|
|Engines:||3.6-liter V6; 6.2-liter V8; supercharged 6.2-liter V8|
|Transmissions:||6-speed manual; 6-speed automatic with manual shifting|
|Safety equipment (standard):||dual-stage frontal airbags, side-impact airbags in front, airbag curtains, tire pressure monitor, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control with traction control|
|Safety equipment (optional):||rearview camera|
|Basic warranty:||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Assembled in:||Oshawa, Ontario|
|Specifications As Tested|
|Model tested (MSPR):||Chevrolet Camaro 2SS Coupe ($35,450)|
|Standard equipment:||heated leather seats, heated mirrors, Boston Acoustics 9-speaker 245-watt audio system, Bluetooth and USB port, remote starting, console mounted gauges, Head-Up display, rearview camera, OnStar Directions and Connections for 6 months, foglamps, halogen headlamps|
|Options as tested (MSPR):||45th Anniversary package including stripes, HID headlamps with LED halo rings, 20-inch aluminum wheels painted Midnight Silver, interior with accent stitching ($1375)|
|Gas guzzler tax:||N/A|
|Price as tested (MSPR):||$37725|
|Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):||426 @ 5900|
|Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):||420 @ 4600|
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:||16/24 mpg|
|Track, f/r:||63.7/63.7 in.|
|Turning circle:||37.7 ft.|
|Head/hip/leg room, f:||37.4/na/42.4 in.|
|Head/hip/leg room, m:||N/A|
|Head/hip/leg room, r:||35.3/na/29.9 in.|
|Cargo volume:||11.3 cu. ft.|
|Suspension, f:||independent, strut|
|Suspension, r:||independent, multi-link|
|Curb weigth:||3860 lbs.|
|Tires:||245/45ZR20 front, 275/40ZR20 rear|
|Brakes, f/r:||Brembo disc/disc w ABS, Brake Assist|
|Fuel capacity:||19.0 gal.|
|Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of January 20, 2012.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 800-862-4369 - www.chevrolet.com|
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National Motorists Association Blog
By Eric Peters, Automotive Columnist
Back in 1987, I was very happy with my 1980 Z28 — which had less than half the horsepower of the 2012 Camaro SS I just spent a week with. Ye gods, the base 2012 V-6 Camaro puts out 133 more horsepower than my old 350 V-8 Z28. And despite having twice the power of my old Z, the ’12 SS also gets twice the MPGs — probably more, if you’re gentle — than my poor old Disco Machine Z28 ever managed.
So, what’s not to like?
Well, not much. But there are a few bugs. Some are subjective — my personal issues, maybe having to do with being an over-the-hill Gen X’er. But the others are pretty objective.
I’ll tell you — then you tell me.
WHAT IT IS
Camaro is a two-door, four-seat revisitation of the ’60s-’70s muscle car concept: Big car, big V-8 (in the SS). Truckloads of ‘tude.
Base price is $23,200 for the V-6 LS coupe. An SS starts at $31,850. Both are available as convertibles, too — with base prices for those versions starting at $30,100 for the V-6 and $37,900 for the SS.
Main competitors are the Ford Mustang ($22,310-$40,310) and the Dodge Challenger ($24,915-$43,995).
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2012
The base V-6 now produces 323 hp (vs. 312 in 2011) and the SS gets a revised Sport suspension. All versions get interior tweaks, including a new-design steering wheel and trim bits. The formerly optional RS taillights with darker lenses and chrome trim are now standard on all versions.
There’s also a 45th Anniversary Edition of the SS (tested model) and — later in 2012 — Chevy will resurrect a legendary ultra-performance Camaro nameplate — ZL1 — to compete against the ultra-ultra performance versions of the Mustang (Boss 302) and Challenger (SRT-8).
Base V-6 puts our more power than most classic-era V-8s – and can deliver 30 MPG on the highway.
SS Camaro (426 hp) has more power than Mustang GT (412 hp) and much more power than Challenger R/T (375 hp).
Drive an icon. Get lots of attention.
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD
Mustang is much lighter — and so, significantly quicker.
Challenger’s about $2k cheaper — and has usable back seats. Plus a trunk, too.
Bouncy ride (SS) on super tall wheels/tires.
Maybe 25 percent too big — definitely 25 percent too heavy.
UNDER THE HOOD
The standard Camaro engine is a 3.6 liter V-6, now rated at 323 hp. It is the most powerful of the three latter-day muscle cars’ standard engines — and also more powerful than most of the V-8s used in the original-era muscle cars. Just for perspective, the 1969 Camaro Z28’s 302 V-8 was rated at 290 SAE gross hp (today we use a less optimistic SAE net standard that measures engine power in factory tune with full exhaust and accessories installed). My 1980 Z28’s larger 350 cubic inch (5.7 liter) V-8 was rated 190 hp, SAE net. Even as recently as 2000 — just before the last generation Camaro was retired — a Z28’s 5.7 liter V-8 produced only 305 hp (320 if you ordered the SS on top of that).
The V-6 comes with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. It’ll get you to 60 in the six second range (that’s quicker than a stock ’69 Z28 and much, much quicker than my ’80 Z28) and still manages to deliver fuel economy no old-school V-8 could ever dream of: 19 city, 30 highway. Again, for some context, my 8.5 second to 60 MPH 1980 Z28 was rated 14 MPG… on the highway.
Not enough? Choose the SS, which packs a 6.2 liter, 426 hp V-8 and a 5 second 0-60 timeslip. It’s not quite as quick as the slightly less powerful (but several hundred pounds lighter) Mustang GT, which does the deed in about 4.8 seconds — but it’s quicker than the less powerful (and even heavier) Challenger R/T, which gets there in 5.5 seconds.
As with the V-6, you can go manual (six speed) or automatic (ditto). Gas mileage with the 6.2 V-8 is 16 city, 24 highway but unlike the V-6, which is slightly more efficient when teamed with the optional automatic, the big V-8 loses a few MPGs (14 city, 22 highway) when you pair it with the six-speed automatic. That’s also slightly worse than the automatic-equipped Mustang GT (18 city, 25 highway) and the manual-equipped Challenger R/T (15 city, 24 highway).
In spring — a few months from now — Chevy will resurrect the ZL1, a Camaro that will make the SS seem toothless, or at least loose-toothed.
Back in the late ’60s, the ZL1 was a special-order Camaro with a Corvette 427 cubic inch big-block V-8 under the hood. For 2012, the concept will be similar: Under the hood will be a version of the current Corvette ZR1’s supercharged 6.2 liter V-8 with output expected to be 570 hp. This would be the most powerful factory-built Camaro ever.
And most importantly, stronger — by far — than the current SRT8 version of the Challenger (470 hp) and also the Boss 302 version of the Mustang GT (444 hp).
ON THE ROAD
It’s a mixed bag.
Camaro — especially the SS, with the new sport suspension — has very high levels of grip, like all modern high-performance coupes. But few high-performance coupes are this big — or this heavy.
Camaro is an enormous car, by any measure — and not just relative to other coupes. It rides on a 112.3 inch wheelbase, is 190.4 inches long, 75.5 inches wide, 54.2 inches tall and weighs a ponderous 3,860 pounds empty. This is only two inches shorter, nose to tail, than a current Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan — which only has about an inch more wheelbase (113.2) and weighs just slightly more (4,084 lbs.). My 1980 Camaro’s wheelbase was only 108 inches — and it weighed about 200 pounds less than the current model. I parked the SS next to my ’76 Trans-Am (same basic car as a mid ’70s’ Camaro) and the TA, a big car in its day, looked almost dainty in comparison.
A more direct comparison is to compare the Camaro to its most obvious rival, the current Ford Mustang. The Ford’s wheelbase is much shorter — 107.1 inches – and the car is about three inches less, end to end (188.1 inches). It also weighs almost 300 pounds less — which explains why the GT is quicker than the SS, even though the 5.0 liter V-8 is a bit less powerful than the SS’s larger, 6.2 liter V-8.
All that weight — and all that wheelbase — combined with those mongo 20 inch wheels (SS 45th anniversary) wrapped with super low-aspect ratio (very short sidewall) ultra-performance tires results in a car that’s quite a handful. Also on the bouncy side if the road is less than perfectly smooth.
This isn’t to say Camaro’s not a tenacious cornering fiend — it absolutely is. But it takes a meaty hand on the wheel to keep it all on track. Mustang handles extremely well, too. It’s probably a draw — or a question of fractions of a second — as to which goes around a road course the fastest and even that will come down to who’s behind the wheel more than any other single factor.
But on the street, I have to say I’d rather be behind the wheel of the Mustang. You don’t feel like you’re constantly running out of road on either side; you’ve got much better to-the-side (and rearward) visibility because the ‘Stang’s roof is not so cartoonishly low-cut. And it’s not as bouncy on less-than-perfect pavement.
Why does Camaro have to be so huge? You don’t even get a usable back seat in return! (More on this below.)
AT THE CURB
Camaro has curb appeal. Most people — most especially young guys — seem to really like it. I got multiple thumbs-up and waves from the 18-35 set during the week I had the car. On this count, it beats the Mustang — which though an excellent driver and arguably (my opinion) a better car overall, is also everywhere. The roads are saturated with Mustangs, so owning one does not set you apart from the herd. Even a brand-new 5.0 GT draws no eyes, or very few anyhow. But because Camaro had been gone for so long (nearly ten years) and also because the new car is heroically outsized in every respect — everyone looks. They are still enough of a novelty to stand out like Hulk Hogan draped in feather boas at the airport. The styling is like nothing else on the road.
My 45th Anniversary car, painted Carbon Flash charcoal metallic with two asymmetric red stripes on the hood and decklid — stood out from the crowd even more. This special model also gets LED headlight surrounds, special 20 inch wheels and interior trim, most notably matching charcoal leather seats with accent stitching.
The Dodge Challenger also stands out, for exactly the same reasons. There are not many out there — and the styling of this car is equally bold. The Challenger, incidentally, is even bigger (and heavier) than Camaro, weighing in at a truly obnoxious 4,082 lbs. empty. It is also about eight inches longer — and rides on an incredible (for a coupe) 116 inch wheelbase. That is almost four inches more wheelbase than Camaro! But, there is an upside: You get a real trunk: 16.2 cubic feet — which is more trunk than the current Benz E-Class sedan and much more than the Camaro’s ridiculous — for such a big car — 11.3 cubic inch trunk.
You also get usable backs seats in the Dodge, something neither the Camaro nor the Mustang have. Check some stats: The Camaro’s back seats are tighter than the bottom half of a 50 gallon oil drum, with only 29.9 inches of legroom and 35.3 inches of headroom, if you want to call it that. In the Challenger, backseaters get a human-friendly (or at least, human usable) 32.6 inches of legroom and 37.4 inches of headroom.
Now, the Mustang is also cramped in the back — but in its defense, it’s not so huge on the outside, as Camaro is. Probably my biggest criticism of Camaro is its poor use of space — and its out of proportion proportions.
Well, there is one other thing… .
Camaro was originally a fairly inexpensive car. Even my old ’80 Z28 had an MSRP of just $7,120 brand new. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $19k in today’s Fed funny money. Mind, that was for a Z28 — the top-of-the-line Camaro back in 1980. The SS I just tested was $43k-plus and even without the 45th Anniversary package, the base price of a new SS is almost $32k. That is near-BMW (or Lexus or Cadillac) money nowadays.
And the Camaro’s interior does not match that MSRP. The layout is fine but the materials and small details aren’t. Look at the gauges, for example. There’s nothing wrong with them, as far as how they are laid out or how they work. But the faces and detail touches are very plain. There is also too much hard plastic, which even leather girdles here and there (as in the 45th Anniversary model) can’t completely hide. The Mustang’s interior just looks better to me. Maybe you disagree. I expect lots of hate mail from Chevy people, but there you have it.
You look and see for yourself.
I do like that GM has kept the nanny crap to a minimum. Turn the TCS off and it is off. You can do a burnout or slide the ass end through a decreasing radius curve, hollering like a crazed hillbilly as you go.
Sixth gear in the manual is a really steep overdrive gear and the engine is almost dozing off at 80 MPH, barely turning 2,000 RPM. Also excellent. And the GM LS-series V-8 is a magnificent piece of engineering, a two-valve, pushrod unit that spins as high as many three and four-valve/DOHC units, like the Ford 5.0. It is totally unstressed, with massive untapped potential. A few choice mods here and there and this engine can pump out 600-plus hp without a supercharger.
Hands clapping like a seal awaiting a mackerel.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It’s far from perfect, not family-friendly and will probably annoy your wife. But isn’t that part of the charm?
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