2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 2SS

Matt Tierney
2011-chevrolet-camaro-convertible-2ss

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

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samtodez
Were you guys able to heel-toe easily? I drove an SS a couple of months ago and thought that the pedals were too far apart. Probably another reason for buying an auto?

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