The Camaro was introduced in 1967 to compete with the Ford Mustang, and it ran for 35 years in four generations before being discontinued in 2002. After a 7-year hiatus, Chevrolet reintroduced its iconic coupe. As with the 2010 model, the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro advanced muscle-car standards with stability control, overhead and side airbags, a choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission and independent rear suspension that doesn't sacrifice ride quality for good handling. Thick roof pillars and a high beltline hurt outward visibility, but precise steering, a solid structure and well-sorted shock damping help the driver maintain control. A convertible version joined the lineup for 2011 and has additional underbody bracing to compensate for the lack of a steel roof. The 3.6-liter V6 is surprisingly lively and fuel efficient, but many buyers will be drawn to the SS model with the storied small-block V8. Be advised that all V8 cars with automatic transmissions have Active Fuel Management (AFM) cylinder deactivation that drops four cylinders under light throttle, which takes some getting used to. The Camaro is a good used-car choice because parts and service are readily available, and evergreen popularity means good resale value down the road.
What We Like
Updated 1969 Camaro styling; choice of coupe or convertible body styles; independent rear suspension; selection of powerful V8s
What We Don't
Poor outward visibility; rear seat unsuitable for adults; tiny trunk opening; lack of navigation system
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
A large part of the Camaro's personality is derived from its engine performance. The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro has three available engines, all of them more powerful than the legendary 302 cubic inch (5.0-liter) Z28 V8 of the late 1960s. The base engine in LS and LT models is an all-aluminum 3.6-liter DOHC V6 with direct injection. Delivering 312 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque (up 8 hp and 5 lb-ft from 2010), it burns regular unleaded and has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 17 miles per gallon city/29 mpg highway with the standard 6-speed manual transmission and 18 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with the optional 6-speed automatic.
Standard in the Camaro SS is an aluminum-block 6.2-liter OHV small-block Chevy V8. SS models with the standard 6-speed manual gearbox come with the LS3 version of the 6.2-liter V8, which produces 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The engine is EPA-rated at 16 mpg city/24 mpg hwy. SS Camaros running the optional 6-speed automatic transmission have the L99 6.2-liter V8, producing 400 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque, and EPA-rated at 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy. The L99 has a cylinder deactivation system, AFM, that idles four cylinders under low-load conditions. Premium fuel is recommended for both V8s.
Standard Features & Options
The Camaro is available in base LS, uplevel LT and performance-upgrade SS trims.
Typical LS equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, XM satellite radio, OnStar communication system, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, auto headlamps, 18-inch steel wheels, stability and traction control, ABS brakes, V6 engine with 6-speed manual transmission and power doors, windows and mirrors. Convertibles feature a power-operated soft-top, acoustic headliner and a glass back window with defogger.
Moving up to LT typically adds front fog lamps, steering wheel audio controls, a power driver's seat, upgraded 245-watt 9-speaker Boston Acoustics stereo, 19-in alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel and a reverse-sensing system. More important, it can be optioned with heated leather front seats and a power moonroof.
Opting for SS trim upgrades the engine to a 6.2-liter V8 and adds Brembo brakes, FE3 suspension with bigger anti-roll bars, adjustable traction- and stability-control settings and 20-in alloy wheels.
The available RS package adds a rear spoiler, 20-in alloy wheels, unique paint, HID headlamps with halo rings and special taillamps.
Popular is an optional console-mounted rally pack with gauges for oil temperature and pressure, transmission temperature and battery charge.
Also popular is the optional Driver Convenience and Connectivity package, which adds Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, an iPod interface, redundant steering-wheel controls and, on automatic transmission cars, remote start.
A dealer-accessory windscreen installs behind the front seats for less buffeting with the top down.
Camaros are usually front-row items on used-car lots, and expect to pay higher prices when the weather is warm and the urge to cruise is strong. Purists may prefer manual transmissions, but most of the higher-priced cars you'll see are well-optioned automatics. Because Camaros have limited backseat and trunk space, they don't see a lot of long-distance driving, so odometer readings should be low.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not announced any safety recalls for the 2011 Camaro.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
NHTSA didn't rate the 2011 Camaro for frontal or side impacts but did give it a 5-star rating for rollover performance.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did not evaluate the 2011 Camaro for crash performance.
General Motors covered the 2011 Camaro with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance and a 6-year/100,000-mile corrosion perforation warranty.
Chevrolet certified pre-owned (CPO) cars cannot have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be five years old or less. Every CPO Camaro undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty plus whatever remains on the transferable original 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. Also included is a 2-year/30,000-mile maintenance plan with roadside assistance.
Other Cars to Consider
2011 Ford Mustang -- It's smaller, lighter, nimbler, has higher EPA ratings, is easier to see out of than the Camaro and offers a nav system and rear camera the Camaro doesn't. But it's also noisier, less stable and doesn't handle as well.
2011 Dodge Challenger -- The Challenger is more of a coupe version of the Dodge Charger, so it offers a decent-size rear seat and trunk, and it's an exciting muscle car with HEMI V8 power. Although V6 versions have increased power for 2011, handling doesn't come close to matching the precision of the Camaro.
If this Camaro will see everyday use, consider one with the 3.6-liter V6. The V6 gets decent gas mileage, has plenty of power, is easier to insure and has better-balanced handling than the V8s. However, if this is a long-term investment, don't consider anything less than a SS with the small-block V8. The V8 cars will always be in demand due to their unique heritage -- especially years from now, when we're all driving around in microcars. Go for a Chevrolet certified pre-owned car, when available.