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Old 07-21-2011, 08:55 PM   #1
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Post Automobile Reviews 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 2SS



REVIEWS: 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 2SS

July 21, 2011

Lowering the convertible roof of the Camaro fixes a lot of what I think is wrong with the regular Camaro coupe. First, claustrophobia and poor visibility are major issues in the Camaro hardtop. Let in some sunlight and ditch the big C-pillars, and your mood immediately and literally brightens and your confidence in changing lanes instantly increases. Second, the sleek and sexy Camaro coupe looks like it might handle and corner like a Porsche 911, but the Chevy disappoints with its general feeling of heft. The (heavier) convertible Camaro doesn't handle any better, but its character is less suggestive of a world-class sports car; it's more of a cruiser, and by that measure its handling is quite capable.

Acceleration seems incongruously slow based on all the fantastic noise that the engine makes. Tall gearing is surely partly to blame. Also, I observed a strange delayed throttle response if you jump on the gas in second gear.

The Camaro convertible's trunk is teeny tiny and has a small opening, and the power roof is slow to operate. On the plus side, though, I noticed very little (if any) cowl shake, an ailment that tends to negatively afflict most convertibles with more than two seats.

After a week driving a weak Nissan Leaf, I loved feeling of the entire Camaro shaking from its loping engine torque while I sat idling at traffic lights. While waiting at one of those lights, I got a big thumbs-up from the driver of a nice Fox-body Ford Mustang convertible, out for a cruise on a perfect summer evening, just like me.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

No top-down time for me, as we were in the midst of a rainy spell when I signed out the Camaro convertible. That's too bad, as that pretty much defeats the purpose of this car.

My first impression when sitting in the Camaro is that it's big. It feels heavy and wide, and yet the cabin can be almost claustrophobic with its high beltline and fairly large blind spots at both the A- and C-pillars. For years, GM fell short of its competitors in the fit and finish of its cabins, and I have to say that the Camaro sort of lives up to that reputation. The air vents, particularly those in the center position, are made of a rather flimsy plastic and are consequently hard to adjust. On the other hand, the steering wheel is covered in decent leather that feels pretty good. On the third hand, the sound system and the gauges in front of the driver look retro, but not necessarily in a good way.

Driving the Camaro is about what I expected - there's nothing subtle about this car. The engine makes a very deep, throaty rumble when you goose the accelerator, and once underway it feels big and solid. It simply shrugs off rough pavement, remaining settled except in the most extreme circumstances. The six-speed manual is quite easy to use - the clutch is a little stiff and the gear throws are notchy, but in general it seems as though it would be very forgiving of even the most ham-handed drivers.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

The threat of rain prevented me from enjoying some top-down time in the Camaro convertible but, although I wasn't able to enjoy the sights that come with top down motoring, I was able to experience the sounds. Lots of sounds, from general road noise to the tweets of birds in trees along the side of the road. It's surprising how little insulation the fabric roof provides from the noises of the outside world. This is not uncommon in convertibles with a cloth top, especially those that are covering two rows of seats. The same is true in the Camaro's cross-town rival, the Ford Mustang convertible.

Big convertibles are also particularly susceptible to cowl shake from the loss of structural rigidity due to chopping the top off, but the Camaro felt fairly solid. A patch of rough pavement can get the Camaro hopping a bit though, and the somewhat numb steering doesn't make it easy to keep the car pointed in a straight line down the road. Nor does the fact that this car has such a large diameter steering wheel. The Camaro is a fairly substantial car, but there's no reason the wheel needs to be so big. It looks and feels out of scale.

You can't talk about the Camaro Convertible SS without talking about the powertrain. The engine sounds excellent and the shifter has just the right amount of resistance and notchiness. I'd prefer a smaller shift knob though.

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms

I was fortunate enough to have the Camaro Convertible over a weekend and was blessed with plenty of top-down weather. This was the first Camaro of any stripe to come through the office during my tenure, so I was excited to check it out and spend some time driving and shooting it.

The Great: The exhaust note. This car just sounded as bad-ass as it gets. My wife was completely intimidated riding shotgun, and I was hardly jumping on the throttle with her and the kids along. Also filed under "great" is the car's decapitated look -- both from inside and out. I can only imagine the closed in feeling of driving a coupe, but the view from behind the wheel, looking over that big, red hood on a country road with the top down and a canopy of trees flying over your head was just tremendous. And, of course, visibility all around was fine despite the high beltline. From outside, the bright red Camaro was a head-turner and had just the right amount of menace in its personality. Big five spoke alloys and wide rubber gave it a look of a car ready to pounce.

The Good: I thought the manual 6-speed was fine -- nothing fantastic, but no glaring flaws. This car, with its natural inclination for cruising is one where I might consider an automatic -- something I rarely would do -- but it somehow feels like that's the more natural fit for this car. The Camaro felt big and heavy -- like a muscle car of yore--and not as sharp and crisp as a new Mustang. It feels planted to the pavement (unlike a Challenger) over dips and hillcrests and around curves, and the body remains tight and rattle-free with the roof removed despite the washboard condition of some of the Michigan backroads I drove it on. This is a car made for the type of aimless country driving I did or boulevard cruising, not so much for the track.

Interior space and layout was fine, the backseat accommodated a couple of carseat-bound kids with ease, and would probably have been fine for an average adult. The overall look and style of the interior is nice, with the sweeping dash and door panel inserts and classic instrument cluster, but it falls apart under closer inspection...

The Bad: The instruments and controls in this car are just abysmal. I can appreciate the goal of the retro styling, but the execution is poor. The gauges look like a mechanized version of a toy car's decal dashboard. The overabundance of colors and clumsy, plasticky needles were a constant irritation to me, because they seem so inexcusably bad, and easily remedied. The Mustang excels in this exact scenario, with retro-styled gauges that look solid and convincingly "old" yet remain highly readable and somehow modern. The HVAC controls are also style-first, function-last with their low placement and illegible symbols on tiny buttons. And, again, despite the goal of a retro look, the Camaro again misses the mark with a cheesy silver plastic for the fixtures.

In summary, I had a great time with this car, and I think it's a well done cruiser that puts a smile on the face of anyone in it or watching it drive by, but Chevy has some homework to do on the details.

Matt Tierney, Art Director

Asking the Camaro Convertible to move with agility and grace is like expecting your 300-pound uncle to be the best dancer at your wedding. Then again, I don't really subscribe to the convertibles-as-sports-cars thought school, so this drop-top muscle car is all right by me and I can see why open-air drivers would choose the louder, bad-ass looks of the Camaro over the better-driving Ford Mustang.

It's definitely cool, but the Camaro could easily be a whole lot cooler. The manual roof release latch is awkward to use and the power softtop is unusually slow, discouraging you from lowering the roof at a red light that could turn green at the wrong time. When raising the top, the motors keep on humming as long as you're holding the "close" button, with no clear indication of when the top is fully up. And then there are the same flaws that plague the fixed-roof Camaro. Lazy gearing makes this car feel much more tame than the 6.2-liter V-8 should be and who could argue against a smaller, more nimble car?

Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor

There are few cars that I find myself wanting an automatic transmission when there is a manual option; this, sadly, is one of them. The blame goes to the springy and vague clutch pedal.

Chopping the top off of the Camaro added so much weight (more than 250 pounds) to an already portly coupe that it drives more like a grand tourer than a sports car. But then again, isn't that what the Camaro is for -- cruising? In that case, the Camaro convertible has accomplished its mission. With the big, burbling 6.2L V-8 and look-at-me design inside and out, the car is a visual and aural treat for both passengers and bystanders. Our test car was dressed in a Red Jewel Tricoat that grabbed the attention of anyone with eyes, and the black leather and black cloth top added a sinister element to the package. It may not be the most fun to drive, but it sure is fun to look at.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

I'll concede that empirically the Camaro convertible may be inferior to its coupe progenitor. Yet the two serve different purposes, and there is no denying that this is subjectively one of the coolest cars in which to spend a sunny summer evening.

Sure, the gearbox is notchy and heavy, the clutch spring too aggressive, and the interior a bit cheap. So what? Muscle cars were never about sophistication. The goal of a convertible muscle car is to mix big-block grunt with top-down cruising. Removing the roof makes for a Camaro that jiggles and shakes over rough roads, but it also allows you to fully revel in the exhaust note of the 6.2-liter V-8 while cruising around town. Nobody buys a Camaro SS convertible for full-on track attacks -- they buy one because it looks, sounds, and feels fun.

In that respect, this Camaro succeeds. It got enthusiastic stares, smiles, and comments from friends and family -- and strangers. I woke up early so I'd have more time to drive the car on a beautiful 65-degree morning before work. And I blipped the throttle for every single downshift, so as to better enjoy the grumbles and pops from the exhaust.

Back in the winter I confidently told a friend that the Camaro convertible would be The Hot Car to have in summer 2011. So far I haven't seen many around, and Chevrolet confirms that convertibles account for just 20 percent of Camaro sales. That's too bad -- I might be tempted to buy a gently used SS convertible in a few years' time, so I want lots of people to buy them now and keep resale prices low.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

It's easy to pick on the Camaro. It left the market for a long time and returned to the game with some pretty serious issues: The platform it rides on wasn't really intended for the U.S. market, so the interior isn't as useable as we'd like -- there's no way to put in a navigation unit without spending a lot of development dollars and OnStar isn't an acceptable substitute. It's very heavy. There were far too many compromises made for the design than hinder day-to-day use in terms of visibility and a functional trunk. But it's selling incredibly well.

The type of people buying Camaros and Camaro convertibles aren't looking for lap times, Lotus-like steering feel, or even a practical trunk. They value design, a killer exhaust note, and maybe a connection to the Transformers movies. I'm not willing to say these folks aren't car guys and girls, but the Camaro easily appeals to more of the non-enthusiast population than a more track-oriented toy.

I find it funny that so many of the people who demand GM and Ford bring more of their rear-wheel drive vehicles that are currently sold in Australia to the U.S. don't particularly care for the Camaro. Perhaps those vehicles are designed too specifically for the Australian market and can't be converted to please the consumers in this country at a reasonable cost.

I don't want to own a Camaro, but I do see the appeal in the car for people who love to cruise. There's a strong V-8, solid design, and now the ability to drop the top and bask in the sun.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
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Old 07-21-2011, 09:11 PM   #2
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Tran, thanks for posting this. Interesting to see what those who are not Camaro fans think.

Nope, it ain't no Mercedes or Lexus - and I wouldn't want it to be. Leave it refined yet rough around the edges, just like me.
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Old 07-21-2011, 10:21 PM   #3
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Eveyone has an opinion...even though theirs is wrong!

Well, interesting article. Everytime I get in my '11 IOM Camaro Vert I smile, people give me thumbs up and heads turn. Who cares what these guys think! This car is awesome!

By the way guys...it is a Chevy not a Ferrari and there are some of us who prefer a Chevy!
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Old 07-21-2011, 11:23 PM   #4
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I agree with those above me, these guys seem to bash on the Camaro as if it should be living up to the build quality of a Porsche. Otherwise these were decent reviews!
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Old 07-22-2011, 01:33 AM   #5
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I don't contend that the car is without flaw - there are a lot of flaws in the Camaro. Writers seem to forget a few critical things. In the world of sports cars, it's cheap, but many cars that cost ten times as much have just as many flaws. What makes the Camaro special is its roughness - the character that it exhibits. The lack of refinement combined with livability for the streets really gives it a personality, and that is the difference between a good car and a great one. Its got to have a soul!!!
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:08 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by B1G-AL View Post
I agree with those above me, these guys seem to bash on the Camaro as if it should be living up to the build quality of a Porsche. Otherwise these were decent reviews!
Agreed, car reviews do tend to lean that way. If it's not a Lexus it's somehow inadequate, never mind that to get that kind of quality you have to pay extra which most people can't afford and a lot of people don't want to even if they can. Some of those reviews are insightful enough to point out it's a muscle car - why not just stop there?

It's like the movie reviews I've been reading for Captain America - for some critics, if it's not "Gone With The Wind" it deserves a bad review. On the road or in the theater, the idea that some people value pure fun over fun diluted for the sake of pampering and deep thoughts just escapes some people.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:40 AM   #7
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Ah well, critics. I love my car and no one can change that regardless of what magazine writes what. I, like many here feel in love with the orange & black prototype. I knew then, that's the car I wanted to own. It's like looking at a piece of art. Everyone sees something differently. Some may love it, some may not care for it. It's all about what you like as an individual. Maybe they were just pissed they could only have a vert for a few days.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:42 AM   #8
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ya can't buy a better all-around car for the money,i have owned mine for 2 years as of July 2,and i still love it,and eventhough there IS alot of plastic in the car,i have yet to hear a rattle.these folks that do the reviews tend to overlook the fact of the market the car is intended for,sure the camaro could have had a better interior soft to the touch,but if a person wants that then they are gonna buy a Cadillac or something else that is at least $20,000 more,
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:45 AM   #9
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Can't keep the car pointed in a straight line???

Amy Skagstrom says, "somewhat numb steering doesn't make it easy to keep the car pointed in a straight line down the road"!

Now, I don't own a convertible, but this comment is one that seems totally inaccurate unless you're driving down bomb crater roads! I can't imagine the National Traffic Safety Association or GM would have allowed this to happen. Has anyone else with a convertible had trouble keeping their cars pointed in a straight line?

I guess you can make "off the wall" comments like this if you don't like the car, but I would bet the Camaro is a way better car than most of these people drive (probably a Hundai or Daewoo)!
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Old 07-22-2011, 09:06 AM   #10
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one of the review commenters, if im not mistaken says something to the tune of the camaro not being a car for some people,this is a true commment,cause the camaro is'nt a car for some,......just like the vega or ford pinto was not a car for some,beauty is in the eye of the beholder,just like it is with a person's spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend,but i gotta tell ya the CAMARO is a great looking all around car!
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:09 AM   #11
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I agree with those above me, these guys seem to bash on the Camaro as if it should be living up to the build quality of a Porsche. Otherwise these were decent reviews!

But why not? Porsche is the epitome of automotive excellence. You revel in owning a cafr that is inferior in engineering and design to the Porsche? Why? You should demand that GM gets it's act together and start building the world's best cars. Don't we as Americans demand the best? I guess not. This is why our products and second best to the rest of the world. This attitude that it's OK to be second best. It's a Camaro so it's OK that it's not as good as a Porsche, Audi, Hyundai or Honda. The Camaro should absolutely be held to the standards of the best automobiles, if not then GM should pack it in and go out of business.
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:10 AM   #12
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one of the review commenters, if im not mistaken says something to the tune of the camaro not being a car for some people,this is a true commment,cause the camaro is'nt a car for some,......just like the vega or ford pinto was not a car for some,beauty is in the eye of the beholder,just like it is with a person's spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend,but i gotta tell ya the CAMARO is a great looking all around car!
This I agree with.
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:28 AM   #13
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But why not? Porsche is the epitome of automotive excellence. You revel in owning a cafr that is inferior in engineering and design to the Porsche? Why? You should demand that GM gets it's act together and start building the world's best cars. Don't we as Americans demand the best? I guess not. This is why our products and second best to the rest of the world. This attitude that it's OK to be second best. It's a Camaro so it's OK that it's not as good as a Porsche, Audi, Hyundai or Honda. The Camaro should absolutely be held to the standards of the best automobiles, if not then GM should pack it in and go out of business.
Well said.
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:30 AM   #14
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But why not? Porsche is the epitome of automotive excellence. You revel in owning a cafr that is inferior in engineering and design to the Porsche? Why? You should demand that GM gets it's act together and start building the world's best cars. Don't we as Americans demand the best? I guess not. This is why our products and second best to the rest of the world. This attitude that it's OK to be second best. It's a Camaro so it's OK that it's not as good as a Porsche, Audi, Hyundai or Honda. The Camaro should absolutely be held to the standards of the best automobiles, if not then GM should pack it in and go out of business.
I hope they start doing Lamborghini/Camaro comparisons. Detroit should be able to build a 35K car that measures up to anything despite price and segment. That's fair.

IMHO, GM is certainly competing and arguably winning against the Camaro's direct competition.
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Old 07-22-2011, 11:10 AM   #15
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I agree with the interior criticisms, its growing on me, but every time I get in my buddy's SRT8 Challenger I grumble about my interior.
If GM radically changes the interior, Ill be pissed and happy at the same time!

Ive driven lots of different kinds of cars and trucks, and its hard to give an objective review of each one. Each car I have driven had really cool, and really bad aspects about them, the best, in my opinion was a 911 GTRS2. The Porsche costs over twice what the camaro, but I liked everything about the car except for its exterior looks. The camaro looks 100 times better...but its like comparing apples to grapefruit...there just isn't a comparison. So taking it down a notch, my friends SRT8 challenger...I liked everything about the challenger, but it wasn't a drop top. My other friends Saleen Mustang....I didn't like it at all. The interior was a little better, but just didn't care for it.

Im a Camaro guy, Ive had 6 different Camaros in my life, now I have 2...Im slightly biased when it comes to the name, but I still call a spade a spade when it comes to design, and engineering. I hold GM to the fire on crappy designs!!
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:03 PM   #16
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Obviously any Camaro owner is biased. We all bought our cars because of some attraction whether it was the looks, the power, or the speed or any combination. To each his own. Auto reviews, especially bad ones are nothing but fodder for competitors. The critics are enitled to their opinions, that is what they get paid for. GM will continue to sell these cars despite these reviews and they will outsell Mustang and Challenger too. Maybe they take heed and make some changes based on these reviews.
Comparing Camaro/GM quality to Porsche? That's just silly.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:09 PM   #17
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I don't think the reviews were bad at all. The people doing them seemed to enjoy the cars and I agree with many of their complaints. I especially feel like the reviewers who felt the SS convertible was more of a cruiser and less of a track car were right on the money. I also feel like the reviwers who preferred the automatic in the convertible were correct because of the "cruiser" feel to the car. The reviews seemed reasonable to me.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:29 PM   #18
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Everyone has their viw of a particular vehicle and what they like and dislike about it.

There is no such thing as a mass produced perfect automobile. (Actualy, I doubt there ever will be one of any stripe (i.e. exotic).

Is the Camaro Perfect. No. Do I like my Camaro, HELL YES! and that is what is important to me.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:40 PM   #19
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Pretty much what I expected.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:46 PM   #20
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I wonder what Jake bases this statement on.

"I find it funny that so many of the people who demand GM and Ford bring more of their rear-wheel drive vehicles that are currently sold in Australia to the U.S. don't particularly care for the Camaro."

It can't be sales, cuz the Camaro is kicking butt!

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Old 07-22-2011, 02:05 PM   #21
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If I wanted a car that had 40, 50, 100k levels of performance and options...I would go buy a car that cost that much.

About the only criticism I think is fair is in comparing to other vehicles in the same price range...and there wasn't much in there other than comparing to the Mustang as being more sprightly.

The rest is just kinda .
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Old 07-23-2011, 02:27 AM   #22
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thats why i hate reading magazines like car and driver,automobile,motor trend etc. i dont bother buying them,and i dont really pick them up unless its something about a GM product,these magazines cater to foreign car companies too much the Camaro is a great car,but it gets less attention because its american,i bet if it was designed the same way,but with names like toyota,honda,subaru or some other foreign garbage it would be getting unbelievable praise from these magazines,but they honor cars like the pruis,juke and civic all ugly horrible cars,i for one dont look for these magazines to give a good rating on an american car,because they will find something wrong with it,they did it with the Corvette ZR1 and that car is awesome! i betcha when the Camaro ZL1 hits the street they have something negative to say about that car too.but i dont care how they feel i love the 2010-11 Camaros
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Old 07-23-2011, 01:38 PM   #23
OrangeVert
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackiea View Post
Well, interesting article. Everytime I get in my '11 IOM Camaro Vert I smile, people give me thumbs up and heads turn. Who cares what these guys think! This car is awesome!

By the way guys...it is a Chevy not a Ferrari and there are some of us who prefer a Chevy!
jackiea, so true! I had to give a "tour" of my IOM vert to six guys who stopped to admire it outside of Harbor Freight Tools last night. So there has to be something there in its looks, design, reputation, nostalgia, etc. I think flopjack says it best too about its "soul".

Quote:
Originally Posted by flopjack View Post
I don't contend that the car is without flaw - there are a lot of flaws in the Camaro. Writers seem to forget a few critical things. In the world of sports cars, it's cheap, but many cars that cost ten times as much have just as many flaws. What makes the Camaro special is its roughness - the character that it exhibits. The lack of refinement combined with livability for the streets really gives it a personality, and that is the difference between a good car and a great one. Its got to have a soul!!!
Great observation, flopjack! It's got it, and that's what most reviewers just don't seem to get.

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodj View Post
I don't think the reviews were bad at all. The people doing them seemed to enjoy the cars and I agree with many of their complaints. I especially feel like the reviewers who felt the SS convertible was more of a cruiser and less of a track car were right on the money. I also feel like the reviwers who preferred the automatic in the convertible were correct because of the "cruiser" feel to the car. The reviews seemed reasonable to me.
woodj, that's why this car was perfect for me. I wanted a cruiser, but with the feel of a manual trans. Oh, and my wife will only drive an automatic.
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:17 AM   #24
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I would love for these reviewers to post what kind of vehicle THEY own and drive! Wouldnt that be fun to know!!!!
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:30 AM   #25
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I think the overall view of the critics was quite favorable and on the money.

Some folks may feel that they are harsh as the critics point out some flaws to the cars that we chose to purchase, but that truly is their job. The job of the critic is to look at the product that they are reviewing with a critical eye and give their opinion on the product, the good, the bad, and the in-between.

Comparing the product to other products of similar nature, price point, performance expectations is all a part of the critique, and I see the comparison to performance vehicles outside of the category on the upper end (Porsche, et al) as being a favorable point that they were making ... that they saw and had comparable expectations. That the expectations were not quite met should not be all that surprising, but that they even had them at all says something about the vehicle, IMO.
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