Somewhere along my trip through Death Valley in the Camaro Convertible, a simple thought occurred to me: “How bad can this be?”
Engine: 2.0L turbo-Four making 275-hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, 3.6-liter V6 making 335 hp and 284 lb-ft for torque, 6.2-liter V8 making 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 2.0T: 25 MPG combined, 3.6L: 23 MPG Combined, 6.2L: 20 MPG combined
US Price: Starts at $33,695
CAN Price: Starts at $36,500
Here I was, driving through a relatively empty stretch of highway, the sun slowly scorching my exposed skin, while a potent V8 sits just ahead of me and beautiful mountainous landscapes surround me from all sides. Add in the rare wildflower “Super Bloom” occurring in the region, and it was hard to not smile.
But, of course, it could all go wrong, especially if the car isn’t up to snuff. Luckily, this Camaro is not only up to snuff, but it is nearly perfect for this occasion.
For starters, it looks downright badass, with its headlight design mimicking an angry scowl and grille shaped like a frown. The whole car looks like it’s growling at you. Accented by the sixth-generation’s leaner body and smaller size, this new Convertible is more than just a mode of transportation, it’s a statement.
Under the Hood
If that statement had a thesis, it would start with the engine under the hood of the Chevy. While my tester sported a 6.2-liter V8, base models can be had with a new 275-hp, 295 lb-ft 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. If that boosted four doesn’t do it for you and a V8 is too much to handle, then you can split the difference and get a droptop Camaro with a 335-hp V6.
ALSO SEE: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro 2.0T Review
But for the most authentic Camaro experience, the V8 can’t be beat. With 455 horsepower on tap, the Camaro shares its beating heart with the other sports car in Chevy’s stable: the Corvette. With the top down, the Camaro sounds great, as you can hear all that power and fury from its powerplant up close and personal.
All engines are offered with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. Our tester featured the auto and played the part of a cross-state cruising machine very nicely. While the manual may be more engaging for the enthusiast, I was quite happy with the eight-gear ratios, and the paddle shifters behind the wheel allowed me to change gears as I saw fit. The eight-speed makes sense for this kind of trip, as it cuts down on fuel usage, though in the V8 that means 20 mpg combined, or 28 mpg on the highway and 17 mpg in the city. If fuel friendly droptop road trips are what you’re after, the automatic 2.0T will be the best bet, as it earns five more mpg combined.
The interior of the Camaro is unchanged for the convertible, although there is one great new feature the convertible has that the coupe doesn’t: you can actually see out of it. At least when the top is down, the visibility is much improved over the coupe and it’s not crippled by terrible sightlines or enormous blind spots.
Compared to last year’s model, the interior materials are higher-end and more refined and it looks arguably better than what you would find in the Mustang. One quick complaint, however, is with the infotainment screen, which is awkwardly angled downwards and can catch some glare in the sun. In contrast, the HVAC controls for the temperature are cleverly integrated into two vents on the lower part of the dash, which is a clean and functional design.
That infotainment system is equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, and there are a number of other great interior features available on the Camaro convertible. Vented seats helped keep things cool in the heat of the desert, while a head-up display showed vital information like the posted speed limits to help us stay out of trouble. Eight-cylinder and six-cylinder models can be had with a two-stage exhaust system that lets everyone hear the Camaro clear its throat on wide-open throttle passes.
The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is on Fire
But the most important part of any convertible is the roof. The Camaro was designed from the get-go to be a convertible, meaning even if a customer gets a convertible instead of a coupe, they can expect the same rigid chassis no matter what. Cowl shake is pretty much eliminated and the convertible feels just as stiff and responsive as the coupe.
While the roof mechanism seems slightly slower than the Mustang’s, the Camaro has an added benefit of including a hard tonneau cover that hides the top and gives off a finished look with the roof down. The roof is fully automatic, and can be operated at speeds up to 30 MPH. The top can also be activated remotely using the key fob.
The Camaro Convertible starts at $33,695 for a 1LT model with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Upgrading to a V6 is an extra $1,495, while V8 equipped SS models will set you back at least $44,295.
The Verdict: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible Review
There’s hardly a better way to experience the roads of America than in a droptop pony car. My time spent driving across Death Valley helped showcase the Camaro’s strengths. The muscle car is available with a number of different engine options and features, all while looking and driving great. And the biggest advantage the convertible Camaro has over the coupe version is that you can actually see out of it, which it worth the price of entry alone.
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