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2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Review By Larry Nutson

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2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Review
by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

In the last week of November, General Motors began production of its 100 millionth small-block V-8 engine, a 638-horsepower LS9 would you believe.

Earlier in November, at the SEMA show Chevrolet introduced the COPO Camaro. A purpose-built drag race Camaro for Pro or semi-Pro drag racers to barrel down the quarter mile in about 9.8 seconds with terminal speeds of about 135 mph.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary  (select to view enlarged photo)

Coming in 2012 is a high-performance Camaro ZL1 with a reported 580 HP. For the moment I’m driving a Camaro SS with JUST! 426 HP, a Tremec 6-speed manual and decked out in special 45th Anniversary trim. The 45th package includes hood and rear deck stripes, badging, new-design 20-inch wheels and a special trimmed interior. All for just a touch under $38k.

Chevrolet is doing its part with the Camaro to keep up with the likes of the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger. Not only do we have a Pony Car War but also The American Horsepower War. I recently wrote a story that focused on the joys of lots of horsepower titled The American Auto Industry Horsepower Wars here on The Auto Channel.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary  (select to view enlarged photo)

A new FE4 suspension for the Camaro SS includes retuned front and rear dampers, new 23mm front and 24mm rear solid stabilizer bars that are reshaped and repositioned for more effective body control and more precise response, and 20-inch aluminum wheels with P245/45R20 front and P275/40R20 rear tires. I would note that these are summer tires and if cold climate winter driving is planned a change to winter-tires is called for. Otherwise, park it until summer!

The get-go is aided by a Performance Launch Control feature together with a Limited Slip Differential. Stopping power comes from four-piston Brembo brakes. EPA Fuel Economy for the 6.2-liter V-8 is, if you care, 16 city and 24 highway. Nice to know is that you can use Regular Unleaded fuel, or for maximum performance Premium is needed. The auto trans model that is rated at 400HP gets 1 mpg better on the highway.

The SS is heavy at 3850 to 3900 lbs. Weight balance puts 52% on the front wheels with 48% on the independent-sprung rear wheels. The trunk is smallish at 11.3 cu.ft. and the fuel tank holds 19 gallons of all-night-fun!

Rear vision is less than ideal on the Camaro, but this has been greatly aided with a new Rear Vision Package which includes Rear Parking Assist and a new Rearview Camera Video Display located in the inside rear view mirror.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary  (select to view enlarged photo)

For 2012 all Camaros have a revised instrument panel with new instrument graphics and trim and a new steering wheel design.
2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary  (select to view enlarged photo)

The SS 45th Anniversary Package comes only in Jet Black and features leather-trimmed seats with the anniversary logo, white instrument panel and door trim inserts with the anniversary logo, red, white and blue stitching on the seats, and the anniversary logo on the steering wheel and sill plates. (IMG_2661)

The Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual trans is a joy to shift. Precise, firm enough but not too heavy, with short throws. A far cry from the sloppy-ness of years gone bye. The final drive ratio is 3.45:1 which is a nice middle-of-the-road choice for good launch balanced with comfortable cruising. While on the subject of shifting, the Head-Up Display nicely shows the tach right in your field of view for eyes-on-the-road shifting.

Milder versions of the Camaro are offered in LS and LT trim, both powered by a new-for-2012 3.6-liter V-6 churning out 323 HP and available with the TR6060 6-speed manual or a Hydra-Matic 6-speed automatic. Now, 323 HP is nothing to sneeze at and will certainly provide loads of fun driving at a slightly more conservative pace.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary  (select to view enlarged photo)

So, if you’ve got a young driver in the family or perhaps want reduced fuel consumption the V-6 might just be the way to go. EPA ratings are 18 city and 29 highway with the automatic and 1 mpg less in both the city and highway with the manual. The LS and LT V-6-powered models still have the look of performance with their standard rear spoiler and dual-outlet exhaust. Gone are the days of one skinny and wimpy-looking exhaust pipe as the tell-tale sign of “no go”.

To quote, “See the USA in a Chevrolet.”

Larry Nutson