The Chevy Camaro first came on to the scene back in 1966 as GM's long-awaited answer to the terribly popular Ford Mustang. In true muscle car fashion, it featured a long hood, coupe design and all the power you could want. While the newer versions of the Camaro look like a different car, its soul is still very much the same as the original.
Driving down the freeway in Southern California, it's hard not to notice the myriad of Camaros on the road. Some are convertible while others feature the hardtop, but each boasts the modern, muscular chassis Chevrolet has incorporated into the latest generation of its classic muscle car.
Even now, there's still a mythical lore about the Camaro. Like the only person allowed to drive one is Dominic Toretto from Fast and Furious. Luckily, you don't have to be a fictional movie star to drive one. Chevy saw an uptick in sales this past May of 34.6-percent of the Camaro, meaning many people are getting behind its wheel and zipping around in it. Coincidentally, there is a 1969 Chevy Yenko Camaro in 2 Fast 2 Furious.
With the 2017 Convertible Camaro 2LT, Chevy is at it again with a fantastically gorgeous car that will capture your heart and if you get behind its wheel. It definitely captured mine.
If looks could kill
When you come upon the Camaro, there's no getting around it. It is one damn sexy car. It still features the familiar long hood, two-door design that made it a classic, but in a much more modern body. Slick lines adorn the sides that connect the aggressive front grill emblazed with mean-looking daylight-running lights and the rear boasting a wide spoiler and LED tail lamps.
Being a sports car, Chevy included an exhaust system that roars to life when you turn it on, but also serves as eye candy when you notice the aluminum metal tips when coming up on the Camaro from behind. The Hyper Blue Metallic color, which is the option we had in our test model, stunningly pops when the sun sprinkles it with its rays and it's a sight to behold. The photos we took of it do it no justice.
This particular Convertible version sports a black soft top that when put down, hides into the the trunk. It completes the entire procedure in under fifteen seconds, an impressive feat if you're in a hurry. With the top down, it's a fantastic cruising vehicle. There's also the standard hardtop in case you want something less conspicuous.
The gorgeous 20-inch gunmetal aluminum wheels it rides on look fantastic. It gives the car a much stealthier look than the standard 18-inch silver wheels. I would highly recommend going with bigger wheels.
Inside it is all luxury. The model we got to test out came with the RS package, meaning it had all the gorgeous aesthetic you could desire. Starting with the perfectly stitched leather steering wheel with the perfect 10 and 2 notches, down to the ultra comfortable leather seats, you get all the luxury you want from this car.
There's an available Convenience and Lighting Package that includes rear park assist, side blind zone alert, heated steering wheel and wireless charging, among other things. The number of features is impressive, but it'll cost an additional $2,800.
In what's becoming standard with Chevy cars, the Camaro came equipped with a LTE hotspot. It's available with the OnStar feature that requires a monthly plan. You can connect up to seven devices.
The instrument cluster is all-digital with the ability to toggle between different settings like performance or pertinent information when driving. Right above it is a virtual heads up display that shows the revolutions, gear and speed. This is the perfect compliment to the 8-inch center display; you interact with it through touch. It runs Chevrolet's MyLink system with built in navigation system and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
My biggest gripe with the Camaro was this 8-inch display, or better yet, the placement of it. The display is perfectly suitable with the right amount of information, resolution and functionality, but the odd placement of it make it difficult to see from any normal angle. Most cars manufacturers lay the front display down at an angle, but the one in the Camaro tilts forward. Not sure why Chevrolet's designers opted the placement, but it's one change I would want to see in future Camaros.
Power to spare
Underneath the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder dual-clutch engine. You can use it normally in automatic or shift the gear stick to manual mode and take full advantage of the paddle shifter to move through the gears with purpose. It will get you 275 horsepower and 295-foot pound of torque. There is some turbo lag when getting gearing up from a stand-still position, but once up to speed, you feel all 275 horsepower easily overtake the road.
When in manual, using the paddle shifter, the gears aren't as responsive as other cars, but it's still a very good dual-clutch system. If you want to experience the full extent of the Camaro's engine prowess, putting it in manual mode is a first-row seat. Surpassing 50 miles per hour is when the car feels like a rocket ship blazing through the highway, and that's with the "least" powerful engine you can get with the Camaro.
The turbo model we drove is one of four available engine options you can get with the Camaro. The other three engine models available are the 6.2-liter V8 DI engine, 6.2-liter supercharged V8 DI engine and 3.6-liter V6 DI engine. Each of those models produces more horsepower and torque than the turbo engine, but take it from me, the turbo Camaro has plenty of power. But those options are available in case you want more sheer power.
A worthy car for a few select
So who exactly is the Camaro for? That depends on your needs. If you want a solid car that's fun to drive and has a slew of available features that will make your commute much more bearable—the Camaro is up for the task. If you want some a little more reserved with better fuel efficiency and more internal space, then this is probably not your car.
I drove the Camaro for a few days around Southern California. For my commute, which is an 11-mile drive down the 405 South and then some side streets, it handled it perfectly. Even more so when I left work a little late and the traffic had cleared up. I took full advantage of the turbo.
The Bluetooth system also works seamlessly after I connected my iPhone. As soon as I got into the car, my iPhone was connected and I could listen to music or podcasts right away.
Coming from a four-door hatch, my short fling with the Camaro was jolting, to say the least. Going grocery shopping with the top down wasn't the most ideal situation. When it goes down, it goes straight into the trunk eliminating nearly all the room. I had to place some groceries into the rear seats.
This isn't a deal breaker by any means, but it put into context just how use I am to my spacious hatch. But that's just my personal experience.
The Camaro is a great car, but for my specific needs, it fell somewhat short. That's no knock on it. I'd imagine the people that will consider buying it, it's for the power and sleek looks, not the impracticality of a convertible coupe. And those people will have damn great time with the Camaro.
The Camaro comes from a long lineage of muscle cars, and the latest incarnation in 2017 carries on that legacy proudly.
Disclosure: We got to drive a Chevy Camaro for an entire week. It was a fully-loaded version with every spec imaginable, including 20-inch aluminum wheels, 8-inch center display, LTE connectivity and heads up display on the turbo model.
Photography by Mark Linsangan.