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THE SMILE MAGNET

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Jul 25, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro RS convertible

Words and pictures by Roy Nakano We’re in the Chevrolet Camaro convertible, traffic is backed up, and trying to get into the next lane. The driver in the lane waves us in to cut in front of him. Again. We are convinced that there’s something about this car that brings out the best in commuters. They used to call Camaros chick magnets. We think this is a smile magnet.

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We’ve seen the opposite happen with some other cars. The Hummer H2 was the worst. It produced more middle-finger salutes that any vehicle we’ve ever tested. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Prius got its fair or unfair share. Jealousy, Prius drivers will say. Smug alert, others will contend. With the Camaro, however, it’s a totally different sentiment. Strangers approach, compliment the car, and talk about how far American cars have come. Everyone we meet seems to be rooting for the car, and the car company.

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We love the Camaro coupe, but the convertible is the Pièce de résistance. Unlike some of its competitors, the convertible with the top up looks almost identical to its coupe counterpart. And believe it or not, the convertible with the top up actually has better visibility than the coupe. That’s because the thick B-pillar is eliminated in the convertible. Of course, with the top down, it’s even better looking—particularly since the top folds down completely, leaving no bulging canvas to interrupt the clean lines of the Camaro fuselage. You can tell that Chevy spent a lot of time getting this convertible right. Taking the top down takes less than 20 seconds, while putting it back up take around 25. Wind buffeting is remarkably minimal. With the top down and the windows up, we were able to take to the freeways without having our baseball caps flying away—a terrific feat for a topless car. To keep things from wiggling too much, the convertible is fitted with V-braces under the front and rear of the vehicle. While it’s not as rigid as the coupe, Chevy claims that the body of the Camaro convertible is more rigid than the BMW 3-Series convertible.

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Our Camaro RS 2LT convertible came fitted with the 3.6 liter, all-aluminum, DOHC, VVT Direct Injection V6 and the 6-Speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. With the V6 cranking out 312 horses and 278 pound-feet at 5,100 rpm this year, this base-engined ponycar is quicker than some V8 Camaro Z28s of a few years ago. We do miss the V8 rumble, but we’re reminded that our car delivers an EPA-rated 29 miles per gallon on the highway. No Camaro V8, old or new, can match that. The new Camaro has received from flak for feeling too heavy around corners. To put it in the proper perspective, however, the new Camaro will out maneuver just about any Camaro from the past. Ultimately, that’s how this car should be evaluated. You really do feel like you’re driving a piece of rolling nostalga, but without the usual vices associated with old cars. This is every bit a modern sporty car, with four-wheel independent suspension, rear-wheel drive, plenty of power and great gas mileage. What differentiates this car, however, is its smile factor. The Camaro convertible is the ticket to diplomacy on wheels.

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SUMMARY JUDGMENT It’s the anti-road rage mobile. For more information about Chevrolet products, go to chevrolet.com

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SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Chevy Camaro RS 2LT Convertible Price: $30,100 $36,185, as tested (includes RS Package and 6-Speed automatic transmission with tap shift and remote start) EPA fuel economy rating: 18mpg/city, 29mpg/highway Engine: 3.6 liter, all-aluminum, DOHC, VVT Direct Injection V6 Horsepower: 312 at 6,500 rpm Torque: 278 pound-feet at 5,100 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel-drive Transmission: 6-Speed automatic transmission with tap shift Front suspension: Independent, double ball-joint struts, multi-links, direct-acting stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Independent, 4.5 links, progressive-rate coil springs over monotube shocks; 3 lateral ball joints per side, de-coupled hallow stabilizer bar, double-isolated subframe Wheels/tires: 19X8 painted aluminum alloy wheels and 245/50ZR19 all-season tires Brakes: Front: 12.64-inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers Rear: 12.4-inch vented discs clamped with single-piston calipers Anti-lock braking system (ABS) Dimensions Length: 190.4 inches Width: 75.5 inches Height: 54.7 inches Curb weight: 3,995 pounds

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