The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro convertible is a car built for the American man. From its throaty exhaust to its aggressive muscle-car styling, the Camaro convertible lacks the sophistication of a European sports car, but it proved during my weeklong test car to be extremely popular with American men. But what about American women?
The 2011 Camaro convertible reminded me to let my hair down, put the top down, color outside the lines and just have some fun, but it was so loud that I avoided spending too many consecutive hours in it.
With the soft-top up or down, this four-seater is loud, and the ride quality is exactly what you'd expect it to be: a little rough around the edges, like your college boyfriend who gained fame by throwing a sofa through a second-story window and onto a professor's car.
While that muscly V-6 rumble may appeal to many (as a matter of fact, my husband tried to coerce me into revving the engine whenever we parked in a busy lot, just to get a few heads to turn), I found the noise and harsh ride quality overstimulating. Maybe it's because I've long since traded in my Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots for skinny jeans and flats. Or maybe it's my experience as a mom in a busy household with three children. Either way, I found myself desiring a more peaceful driving environment.
The Camaro convertible has a starting MSRP of $29,275, and my 2LT test car had a price tag of $36,185.
The Victory Red Camaro convertible that I drove definitely turned heads. Muscle cars seem to elicit an emotional response and the Camaro is no different. There's something innocent and simply American about the Camaro. As a matter of fact, I felt an urge to drive it to a picnic, where I could eat some fried chicken and potato salad, and toss around a greased watermelon.
Instead I drove to Starbucks and saw a black Ford Mustang parked all alone in a corner of the lot. I just had to park right next to it, grab a coffee and pull up a chair to gawk at the gawkers gawking. The owner of the Mustang and his girlfriend spent a solid hour talking about which car looks better and why (of course, they favored the Mustang). I'm just glad I could help facilitate the morning's coffee klatch.
The Camaro convertible isn't only just looks. It does have some function to it, as well. I was quite surprised that I was able to squeeze two sets of golf clubs into the trunk. Granted, they were both child-sized; I stashed my full-sized clubs in the front seat.
Converting the Camaro from top up to top down was surprisingly primitive. I had to manually unlatch the roof, then press and hold the button and wait for the car to do the rest. I expected this all-new model to do more of the work for me. Chevy says the cloth-top folds in 20 seconds.
The Camaro convertible has a 312-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine that's paired with a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is optional. With the manual transmission, the Camaro convertible gets an EPA-estimated 17/28 mpg city/highway. The automatic transmission ups its fuel-economy numbers to 18/29 mpg. If you're looking for more horsepower, the Camaro convertible can be had with an optional V-8.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not Really
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
The Camaro convertible's interior is best viewed through the lens of a singleton rather than that of a family. While the basics were all there for a trip to or from work, they didn't go above and beyond to make this car functional for longer stints.
The storage options prove my point. There were two cupholders up front, two small in-door pockets plus a small center console big enough to stash a few CDs. That's it. There wasn't a place to store a cellphone or any other of the daily stuff we use in our cars.
While my girls' two high-back boosters did fit into the back bucket seats, legroom was a challenge. One daughter who sat behind me had plenty of legroom, but the other always complained about getting stuck behind my husband's seat and not having enough space for her feet.
A lever on the back of the front two seats folded the seats forward a bit and allowed access to the backseat. It was a tight squeeze for my kids, but they're small and nimble. I wouldn't want to attempt that as a full-grown adult.
The black interior of my test car looked sharp in stark contrast to its red-colored exterior, but it felt a little too dark and cave-like with the black fabric top up. The head-up display was a great feature that I acclimated to quickly. This is an image that's projected onto the windshield and shows some basic information, like speed, without requiring me to take my eyes away from the road.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Between the Camaro convertible's coupe design and tight backseat, I wouldn't want to try and wrestle kids into rear- or forward-facing child-safety seats. It'd be difficult to wedge back there to buckle and unbuckle the car seat's five-point harness all the time.
The two sets of lower Latch anchors in the soft-top were extremely easy to access, so installing the car seat would be a breeze (as long as you did it with the top down). Find out how the 2011 Camaro convertible did in MotherProof.com's Car Seat Check here.
While the second row's two bucket seats cradled my daughters' high-back Britax booster seats, the fit was on the snug side. This made it difficult for my 8-year-old to buckle up independently. Luckily, she was able to enlist the help and goodwill of her big sister for assistance with every trip.
With the top up, visibility is limited in the traditional blind spots as well as at the A-pillars. My test car had standard rear parking sensors, which were a huge help. It also had standard rear-wheel drive, all-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system, traction control and frontal-impact airbags. There are no side-impact or side curtain airbags.
Because it's a GM car, the Camaro convertible comes with a free six-month subscription to OnStar including Automatic Crash Response, Turn-by-Turn Navigation and a slew of other great features.
Get more safety information about the 2011 Chevy Camaro convertible here.
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