Mustang versus Camaro: it’s a story as old as, well, 1967, when the Chevrolet Camaro was introduced as an answer to Ford’s muscle car. Countless comparisons have pitted the Ford and Chevy pony cars against each other, in countless iterations and machinations. But if you swear by the measure of the bottom line — sales over more than four decades — the ‘Stang’s the top dog. Still, a cheer of sorts must have emerged from the Chevy camp recently.
In the sports car division, Chevrolet Camaro is outselling the Ford Mustang. This is the first time in the long history of these cars that this has happened. According to Automotive News, this 5th generation Chevy moved 40,275 Camaros during January to May 2011. During the same period, Ford sold 30,206 Mustangs.
Penske Chevrolet supposes this increased performance is due to the Camaro’s new fresh shape. In the world of sport coupes, new designs always garner more buyers than do the familiar. Not only will the speed meter be bouncing off the charts but so will the style meter. The 2011 Camaro makes its sister car the 1969 Camaro – which at the time was deemed modern – looks dainty by comparison.
The droptop Camaro comes in two flavors: LT and SS. The former uses GM’s ubiquitous 3.6-liter double-overhead-cam V6 rated at 304 horsepower. The latter has GM’s legendary 6.2-liter V8 rated at 400-hp with a six-speed automatic transmission, 426-hp with the six-speed manual. Six-cylinder buyers get the same transmission choices.
Among the options on the LT test car was a $1,500 RS Package with 20-inch aluminum wheels, rear spoiler, unique tail lamps and high-intensity discharge headlamps.
Like the coupe, the V6 can reach 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. OK, it’s not the V8’s 4.7 seconds, but fast enough if you’re cruising with the top down. Besides, giving up 1.4 seconds allows you to enjoy this car’s style while yielding 18 mpg city, 29 mpg highway.
When you come to Penske Chevrolet try both models before you buy. The Camaro can be called a driving machine- within minutes of pulling out of your driveway you will be aware that the steering is a willing partner in crime, telegraphing what’s going on. Like the steering, the suspension muffles road imperfections without filtering out their presence. Road and wind noise are nicely muffled.
The front seat is spacious, although it feels as if you’re sitting very low thanks to this car’s small windows. Unlike the coupe, which can be hard to see out of, the convertible’s top goes down, eliminating that problem.
High-quality materials line the cabin; it’s nicely assembled. The gauges and switches are distinctively styled, especially the audio system. It has eight buttons, six for station presets. But each button is, in reality, a toggle switch. Hitting the top of the button offers up your favorite station, while hitting the bottom activates a different function. Each button has a backlit label, and the primary function of each shines brighter. It’s a small thing, but it indicates that GM sweats the design details.
If you’ve waited to buy one, think of the money you’ll save. Someone bought one of the first convertibles recently at a Barrett-Jackson charity auction for $205,000. One hundred others bought the 2011 Neiman Marcus Edition Camaro convertible for $75,000 each. They sold out in three minutes.
But you visit your local Penske Chevy store and grab this year’s hottest muscle car for half of that price.
|1310 West Showroom Drive
Fayetteville, AR 72704
|3400-F Route 42
Turnersville, NJ 08012
|19236 I-30; PO Box 1649
Benton, AR 72018
|3210 E. 96th Street, P.O. Box 40319
Indianapolis, IN 46240
Engine 3.6-liter DOHC V6
Wheelbase 112.8 inches
Length 190.4 inches
Weight 3,986 pounds
Cargo space 7.85-10.24 cubic feet
EPA rating (city/highway) 18/29 mpg
Fuel consumption 23.5 mpg
Fuel type Regular
Base price, base model $30,000
Base price, test model $32,650
As tested $36,185.
2011’s hottest muscle car
Pro V8 power, alluring droptop looks and top goes down in less than 20 seconds
Con V6 feels strangely lethargic, small trunk
The New York Times
“The V6 feels, and is, lighter and more lithe on the road. The roguish V8 seems as if it’s always primed for a stoplight throwdown, and that might become a little wearying if you drove it every day. Everything — from the steering to the handling — feels heavier.”