Friday, February 10, 2017

Review: 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Price as Tested: $43,900
Rental Rating: 8/10
Purchase Rating: 3/10

On a business trip to Arizona, I selected "midsize" as my car rental option. For whatever reason, the rental car company assigned me a Camaro. I did not object.

This does not make sense in Minnesota

This car fits Arizona like a husky fits Alaska. Straight, flat roads with lots of sun are perfect for a open top muscle car.

The model I rented has a 6.2L V8 engine. The power is wonderful - no matter how fast you're driving, the slightest pressure on the gas pedal sends you rocketing ahead of everyone else around. In a week of driving, I never found an opportunity to get the petal even close to the floor.

Despite being a 2017 model with less than three thousand miles, the car sounded clunky. Driving mountain roads often gave me the opportunity to hear the car's jittery machinations as they echoed off of the mountainside.

The Camaro turns like a truck. Sharp mountain curves required close attention to manage the Camaro's sizable frame. The driver sits low in the vehicle and the doors are substantial, so curbs are nearly impossible to see.


The reverse camera turns on automatically and is easy to see on the large center-dash screen. I found the digitally added "turn path" guides to be surprisingly helpful in a car that's easily described as "one big blind spot". With the top up, seeing anything other than what's directly in front of you is a challenge.

To lower the top, a divider has to be in place blocking off the section of the trunk reserved for the top. This divider was broken in the model I tried - I could position it properly in the trunk, but the sensor that allowed the top to open did not detect it. I spent days staring at this message:

I ran back and forth to the trunk so many times trying to get this message to disappear

Finally, I stopped by a dealer who showed me how to trick the sensor with a magnet.

Fixed with magnets!

I was never able to successfully pair my phone with the car - it crashed the Bluetooth process on my phone every time I tried to connect.


The paddle shifters were essentially useless. The delay after pressing the upshift or downshift button is so long it's easier (and less stressful) to simply wait for the automatic transmission to change gear for you.

That being said, when left to its own devices the automatic transmission performed admirably, and I never felt like I had to wait for power when passing someone on the freeway.


Technically this car has seating for five, but the back seats are barely big enough for a backpack, much less a human. The front seats were comfortably spacious.


For a car marketed to people who like their sound booming, I was disappointed by the sound in the Camaro. Music was muddy at best, and even at high volume I was underwhelmed.


Clever gas cap
Driving on speed-limited highways, I never felt even remotely limited for power. This engine sounds wonderful and is always ready when you need it.

The Small Stuff

I was pleasantly surprised by the clever "gas cap", or lack thereof. Instead of taking the cap off, you simply push the nozzle in. 

The steering wheel isn't perfectly round - it has a couple of straight sections, giving it the feel of a blend of a conventional steering wheel and a formula one configuration.

After tricking the trunk sensor, I found the motion of the roof closing and opening to be quiet, quick, and oddly elegant.

The parking break isn't a level or a pedal, it's just a tiny button on the center console. 

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