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Back for its third model year since introduction in 2009, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro retains its retro-themed yet modern take on the Camaro's heritage, with the addition of a hyper-powerful ZL1 variant in addition to the standard V-6 and SS models. Whether you choose the coupe or the convertible, the 2012 Camaro makes a strong style statement.
When the muscle car revival first struck with the return of the Camaro and Challenger, sales lit up like a wildfire--and haven't slowed much since. This year, the 3.6-liter V-6 variant once again gets a power increase from 312 to 323 horsepower, while the V-8 SS model holds steady at 426 horsepower. All new for 2012 is the Camaro ZL1, which adds a supercharger, more dramatic styling, more aggressive handling, and a total of 580 horsepower.
The aggressive, pure muscle-car look of the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro doesn't come without its downsides, however. The low, sleek roofline means a shortage of headroom for taller drivers, and the high beltline makes it hard to see out of the car for shorter ones. The back seat is suitable only for children, and the trunk, despite the car's overall size, is diminutive. Ride quality, however, is very good overall despite the sporting overtones, and the cabin is quiet.
Beyond the look and the shortfalls in functionality and comfort, however, the 2012 Camaro is great at its main focus: performance. The base model, powered by the up-rated V-6, is pretty peppy, but the 6.2-liter V-8-powered SS model really brings the chassis to life, particularly when paired with the six-speed manual transmission. The automatic is no slouch, however, offering slick shifts and solid acceleration as well--all models of the 2012 Camaro SS hit 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds. The real star performer for 2012 is the ZL1, with 580 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, magnetic ride suspension, and even more fearsome looks. Steering is direct, and the handling is crisp for a car of this weight class.
Even though performance is clearly given top billing with the 2012 Chevy Camaro, the common threads of all modern cars are still strong here: safety and convenience features abound. Six standard airbags, including side-curtain airbags that extend to the back seat, anti-lock brakes, dynamic stability control, and traction control are found in every new Camaro. Crash test ratings are solid, though perhaps not segment-leading: the NHTSA rates the Camaro at five stars for rollover protection, but due to changes in the way it tests front and side impact ratings, hasn't yet scored the 2012 model on other measures. The IIHS hasn't tested the Camaro.
Features are also ample, with OnStar navigation available; Bluetooth, USB, and iPod connectivity as options, and a new head-up display like the one found in the Corvette that debuted last year.
- Contemporary-but-classic muscle-car look
- Punchy, economical standard V-6
- Tenacious yet balanced handling
- Ride quality
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Impossible visibility
- Lack of headroom
- Driving position
- Dull interior materials