Over the weekend, I was supposed to test drive the latest edition of the Chevy Volt.
But last week, a manager of GM’s press car fleet called to cancel the reservation, and offered me a few other options.
So we set up a loan for a manual Camaro SS convertible instead.
After I hung up the phone, I started to think through the practical aspects of my weekend, which I would spend driving to Boston, with three other people, in late October.
The 2014 Camaro SS convertible is not a luxury car built for long trips with four people. It’s loud. It’s devoid of fancy features (where are the neck warmers?).
It needs 5.3 gallons of premium gasoline to go 100 miles (EPA-estimated annual fuel cost: $US2,750). The rear legroom (29.9 inches) is worse that what you get on a Ryanair economy seat (30 inches).
We were cramped. We never put the top down. Between Friday-night-leaving-New-York traffic and driving in Boston (a city apparently designed to make Americans regret the invention of the car) I quickly got sick of shifting from neutral to first gear to second gear to neutral.
But I still had a blast.
The 2SS trim level I had comes with most things you want standard, including a rear view camera, 20-inch wheels, and leather on the steering wheel and shifter knob.
A few options, including a near-worthless navigation system and the $US470 “black stripe package,” take this car from its $US41,855 base price to a total of $US46,360.
The interior is simple, free of the ubiquitous buttons and controls that clog so many modern cars. For the 2014 revamp, Chevy made few changes to the exterior, but it did stick an air extractor on the hood that drives home the muscle message a bit more.
Most important is what’s under the hood: a 6.2-liter V8 engine that generates 426 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. Frustrated in traffic, my stress relief was revving the engine just to hear it. When the road did open up, I could hear every mile being piled on, then the lovely burble of the exhaust as the car came off the throttle. So could everyone in the vicinity.
And that’s what the Camaro is all about. It’s the modern incarnation of the American muscle car. The teenage boys who cheered me on are proof that this car meets its mission: to make driving an exhilarating, if not totally refined, experience.
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