Global warming is a myth.
At least when it's the end of April in Michigan and I'm holding the keys to a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible. The only day it didn't pour frigid rain was the day I gave this gorgeous convertible back. Spring comes late in Michigan.
Mother Nature's cruel sense of humor, however, should not ever deter any convertible driver. These cars were meant to be driven with the top down, even if it means swerving between raindrops. One of my unconfirmed convertible theories is if you drive fast enough, the raindrops won't hit you.
Really, the Camaro Convertible seems the ideal vehicle for the end of the Ice Age. It's beautiful, especially with the added RS package, which gives it an even more aggressive look that might cause pretentious environmental protesters to back off.
Seriously, they should. Sports cars are anything but evil, and the Camaro Convertible, with its 3.6-liter, direct-injection V-6, is more reliable than mass transportation and still gets 18 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. That is better highway mileage than 13 2011 hybrid vehicles. That's right, a baker's dozen. (It's fuzzy math for sure, as those hybrids are SUVs, and few hybrid vehicles perform better on the highway than in the city. But when it comes to global warming, there's been lots of fuzzy math and modeling from both sides.)
Believe what you will, but there's a difference between beliefs and facts. The drop-top Camaro includes some incontrovertible facts.
No. 1: This is the coolest looking affordable sports convertible around.
Don't get me wrong, the Ford Mustang Convertible has a classic exterior and should remain near the top of any list, but the exterior of the Camaro is so clean and crisp. Perhaps its newness gives it an edge. Plus, this Chevy just has a more modern sharp-edged look that will hold its own for a generation of new pony car drivers.
There are few exterior differences between the convertible and the hard-top. This Camaro keeps its big, beefy fenders and steep windshield. It has that lusciously long hood and tiny deck lid in the back. Then, when you take the top down — the worst part of the regular Camaro — the flat roof and a beltline higher than Ed Grimley's is gone.
The face of the Camaro seethes with just the right amount of anger. The grille hides behind a big, gold bow tie, and the body-colored bumper and large air intake below that add to the look. Even the V-8-powered SS model has a tastefully done air intake that is more of a crease added to a bulging hood, instead of something that looks out of place.
The side profile is nearly as pretty with its big side panels and forward-placed wheels. The back end sits up pretty high, especially when the driver sits pretty low inside the cabin, creating another truth and a potential problem.
No. 2: Visibility in the Camaro is awful.
One complaint I've had with the hard-top Camaro is how difficult it is to see out of it. The blind spots are so big a Navy SEAL team could land four helicopters in it. It's difficult to see much of anything on the right side of the Camaro, and backing up is more of a guessing game than precision sport.
I had hoped that when the Camaro Convertible arrived, it would offer greater visibility because the coupe felt like a bunker.
In 20 seconds — the amount of time it takes for the roof to open — I thought the Camaro would transform itself and allow me to live out Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze." I could certainly kiss the sky, but I still couldn't see much of anything else (except traffic lights, of which I now had an unobstructed view). I couldn't see much when backing up because of the high back end, and the sight lines were not much better on the passenger's side of the car. Parallel parking remains the scariest maneuver to attempt in a Camaro.
No. 3: This car is a blast to drive.
From the beginning, the Camaro was designed to become a convertible. (It was delayed for about a year because of that whole bankruptcy thing.) Including the convertible version meant designers and engineers could work in details and create a car with more torsional strength.
Now a word from today's sponsor: science.
Roofs are critical to a car's performance because they hold all of a car's pieces together. Build a house without a roof and see how well it can stand up against wind. Cars follow a similar principle. If you take a car and add a strut tower brace under the hood, a V-shaped front and rear brace, a transmission brace and under-tower tunnel brace, it will almost act as if it has a roof.
The Camaro does just that.
No. 4: The Camaro interior looks better in sunlight.
There's sparseness to the interior that I like. But when there's a roof overhead, the interior looks dark with lots of plastic. But let some sunshine in and it actually looks better. I tested this hypothesis, and it proved true 80 percent of the time. The blue lighting, the deep-set gauges, even the easy-to-use controls all have a better look when the roof is down.
The front bucket seats provide lots of room for both passengers with 42.4 inches of leg room. The back seats, which allegedly can hold two people, have 30 inches of leg room. After adjusting my seat, I was able to squeeze an ice scraper between the back of the front seat and the cushion of the back seat.
There are also all of the cool features that come with the Camaro, including my first testing of the OnStar app. The Camaro was connected to my phone, and it was incredible. I could check my mileage, see how much gas was in the tank, lock or start the car — all from my iPhone. It takes about 30 seconds for the car to respond to your phone, but still, it's very cool to do. OnStar plans to add more features to this app, and it's going to be even better. It will be able to text you at work if your child is speeding.
But speeding should be expected in the Camaro. The wind in your hair just feels right, even when it's 40 degrees outside. And I can certainly vouch for the one thing I tested through the end of April and into the beginning of May in Michigan: The heated seats and heaters in the Camaro Convertible are excellent.
Global warming or not, this car was created to drive with the top down. And that's how I drove it — weaving through raindrops.
firstname.lastname@example.org (313) 223-3217
Overall: *** 1/2
Exterior: Excellent. A great modern interpretation of the Camaro, and without the roof, it looks even better.
Interior: Good. Driver-focused interior with comfortable front seats. Second row is good for carrying stuff, but not people.
Performance: Excellent. Nice ride, and the V-6 provides lots of power.
Pros: Beautiful, fun to drive and starts under $30,000.
Cons: Realistically, it only carries two people, but you can try to cram some more in the back.
**** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor
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