Wednesday, June 7, 2017


The Camaro is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the 2017 model, though Chevy folks got the jump on the occasion by giving it a full redesign for 2016 that included a new turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine that probably caused conniption fits among Muscle Car purists.

Now, as it moves into the second year of its sixth generation, the Camaro features special “Fifty” badging on the steering wheel of all trims, a teen driving package that allows parents to set limits and review driving habits of the new drivers in the family, and a new exterior color, Arctic Blue Metallic.

Also available for an extra $2,695 is a 50th Anniversary package that adds, among other things, special “Fifty” exterior markings, hood stripes and illuminated sill plates, unique 20-inch 50th wheels, special front grille, and orange front brake calipers to give the car a special look.

Like its No. 1 rival the Ford Mustang — the Camaro was introduced three years after the Mustang debuted, the Camaro is available as a coupe or convertible, each in several different trims and with three engine choices.

The base trim, designated 1LS, and the next two up the ladder, the 1LT and 2LT trims, get the 4-banger as standard with a 6-speed manual transmission with a V6 and 8-speed automatic transmission as an option. The upper three trims get V8 power with the 1SS and 2SS getting a 6.2-liter, 455 horsepower version and the ZL1 getting a supercharged, 6.2-liter V8 rated at 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.

My vehicle for the week was the 2LT convertible with the available V6 engine and 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. With 335 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque, the engine provides plenty of power for daily drives and with three driving modes — Tour, Sport, and Snow/Ice — to choose from, you can enhance performance to your liking. (A fourth mode, Track, is offered on V8 Camaros.)

Fuel mileage is decent enough. The V6 Camaro earns ratings of 19 miles-per-gallon city, 28 highway, and 22 combined drinking regular 87 octane fuel. (Premium is recommended for best performance with the turbo 4 or V8.)

Like the coupe, the convertible seats four passengers, though those in the back don’t get a heckuva lot of room (less than 30 inches of legroom) and the driver’s rear visibility is restricted with the roof raised. Thank goodness for the standard rearview camera! Blind spot warning, available in the Convenience and Lighting Package, is a nice feature to have, though setting the side mirrors properly can alleviate the situation.

Other than that, the Camaro is comfortable enough for a Muscle Car. There’s a bit more refinement than in the earlier models, of course, but you’re not going to confuse it with the interior of a German luxury car. A lot of hard surfaces abound in the interior.

Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system with a 8-inch diagonal screen is not as complicated to operate as some other manufacturers have made their systems, and response to voice commands is accurate and quick. MyLink Audio is standard while MyLink with Navigation and the 8-inch touchscreen adds another $495 to the $35,605 MSRP.

The convertible top operates with the push of a button at the top of the windshield and can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 30 mph, which is nice if you get caught in an unexpected shower. Lowering the roof cuts an already tight trunk space to less than half the available 7.3 cubic feet. You’ll likely going to have to place a second golf bag in the back seat.

Standard equipment includes a couple of service visits, capless refueling, the usual safety features as regards to seat belts and air bags, halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights, dual exhaust tips, rear spoiler, push-button start, 8-way driver and 6-way passenger power adjustable front seats, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, Bose premium sound system, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

With the options, my test vehicle came to a total of $45,480 including the $995 destination and delivery charge.

What I liked about the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro convertible: The retro styling, introduced when Chevy resurrected the Camaro in 2010 after an eight-year production hiatus, is eye-catching. Adjusting the temperature for the A/C and heater is accomplished by turning large rings around the large blower outlets on the center stack, kind of a neat touch.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro convertible: Getting in the backseat is a chore with the roof raised. But you can say that about just about any convertible (or coupe, for that matter). Visibility also is restricted with the roof raised as well, not just out the back but on the sides as well because of the shallow side windows.

Would I buy the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro convertible: Sure would. I’d get the manual transmission, though. Paddle shifters just aren’t the same.

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