2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

Breaking traction in first gear requires abuse because the overall ratio is longer than the second gear in both of my personal cars. Speeding up on the highway requires a three-gear downshift. C'mon Chevy, if someone's ponying up the extra money for the V-8, they're obviously okay with the fuel economy penalty -- there's no need to ruin the fun to gain what, 1 mpg? (And what, another 0.003 real-world miles per gallon thanks to the first-to-fourth skip-shift feature that, happily, is only rarely invoked?) I got 14.7 indicated mpg over 175 miles of mixed driving, but I would have been happier with 13 mpg and appropriate gearing.

On the good side, the Boston-branded stereo kicks hard. Every display in the car is low-res and monochrome, including the head-up display -- but I'll take an HUD any day, in any color and at any resolution. The chassis is commendably stiff with only the slightest hint of cowl shake over horrible pavement. It rides well despite having a twenty-inch wheel at each corner (credit a suspension design that might as well be an exact copy of the E39-chassis BMW 5-series).

And then the back seat is half the size it should be. Ditto the trunk. I don't care though -- both of those sacrifices are well worth it. If women can tolerate stilettos for fashion, the Camaro gets a bad-packaging pass from me because of its looks. And even if I swear I can't get past the laughably long gear ratios and slow steering, the fact is all I have to do is look at the Camaro and I forgive it. Judging by the thumbs-up, hollers, and waves I got driving it, I'm not the only superficial one.

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