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Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Camaro

2012 Camaro SS Convertible

After spending some time with the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible, I found that I agree with many of Jamie’s observations when she had the 2011 model over the summer. The first thing that hits you about this muscle car is its looks. It’s hot enough to make an HR department nervous. And despite my fear of sticking out like Guy Fieri, I liked my test Camaro’s Inferno Orange paint.

The interior is attractive, but there's a lot of plastic.

Inside, however, I thought the Camaro SS was a mixed bag. I liked the roomy front seats and user-friendly electronics, but my test car’s interior had more exposed plastic than Heidi Montag. At roughly $43,000, the red door accents should be soft-touch rather than hollow panels, and although the instrument panel was nicely finished, the lower dash and console were also molded from hard, textured plastic.

The Camaro even looks good from the back, thanks to its wide stance and dual exhaust.

Then there’s the visibility. Auto writers haven’t kvetched about something so passionately since the Acura TL got a beak. I would’ve been terrified to back this thing up without its optional rear parking sensors, and the Camaro’s long hood makes it tough to judge the distance out front when you’re maneuvering into a tight parking spot. Still, the Camaro SS would be a great sports car for cruising vast expanses of open highway; it just wasn’t the best for driving on crowded city streets.

The Camaro looks sharp with the top up, but visibility suffers.

Assuming you don’t need an urban assault vehicle, I’m sure the Camaro SS will put a smile on your face, one quarter-mile at a time. Its 426-horsepower V8 and six-speed manual transmission made the Camaro a lot of fun behind the wheel. Whether you prefer Bon Jovi or Springsteen, it would be a hoot to drive up the New Jersey Turnpike with the stereo blasting over that V8 burble, but no matter which exit I take, I think I’d still rather have the Ford Mustang GT. Not only is the Mustang smaller, lighter and nimbler than the Camaro, but it also has a nicer interior and gets better fuel economy.

What would you pick if you were shopping for a rear-wheel drive convertible with V8 muscle?

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