By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.9
Given these tough economic times, the Camaro is a car that shouldn't exist. Economic crises have a way of killing off muscle cars (think of the 1970s oil embargo or the recession of the late 1980s), so maybe the fact that the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro is flourishing is a sign that better times are not far off. Of course, when it comes to things like safety and fuel economy, today's Camaro is light years ahead of it ancestors, yet it is equally as powerful as the most legendary Camaros of yore. Heck, the base Camaro V6 car has more horsepower than some of the late 70s and early 80s V8 Camaros! Yet for all its improvements, the Camaro continues to annoy environmentalists and government regulators alike, which is probably why so many people love this car. Also appealing is the long-held friendly rivalry with fellow domestics the 2012 Ford Mustang and 2012 Dodge Challenger. It's a flashback moment to a time when names like Toyota and Honda were barely known, and cruising the boulevard in a big, loud American muscle car was a Saturday night ritual. Be it the 323-horsepower LS, the 426-horsepower SS or the 550-horsepower ZL1 (reviewed separately), in Coupe or Convertible, there is a Camaro to fit just about every need and budget.
If you're looking for a high-performance machine that offers the best dollar-to-horsepower ratio in the business, check out the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro. In SS form, it outmuscles most exotics costing twice as much.
If there is a sacrifice to be made for the Camaro's modest sticker price, it resides in the car's cockpit. If hard surfaces and cheap plastics are a deal breaker, you might want to check out the Ford Mustang instead. Those hoping to find the light, agile handling of a BMW at a Chevy price will be sorely disappointed.
For 2012, the V6 Camaro gains an additional 11 horsepower, bringing its total output to 323. Also new this year is a 45th Anniversary package that adds specific hood and deck stripes, 20-inch wheels and special interior trim. Other changes include a new steering wheel design, a power lift feature for the passenger seat, and the addition of a rearview camera to the Rear Vision Package. The high-performance ZL1 is set to debut early in 2012 with a 550-horsepower supercharged V8 engine.
Driving Impressions We were given the opportunity to spend equal time in every Camaro trim, from the V6-powered LS to the 426-horsepower SS with the 6-speed manual transmission (our preferred choice as,...due to the Active Fuel Management system, the automatic SS has 26 less horsepower). Admittedly, we enjoyed all the cars, but spent the lion's share of our time testing the SS. With its ever-present torque and seemingly endless horsepower reserves it's easy to make the SS go fast. Aided by GM's electronic launch control our Camaro SS was able to tackle the 0-60-mph run in 4.4 seconds, and thanks to the Camaro's multi-link rear suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, and substantial tires our Camaro SS was able to perform as well in the curves as at the track. You still have to use plenty of finesse to get this car around turns, but the enhanced traction provided by the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system (incorporates anti-lock braking, traction control and an active braking system to control wheel slip) is a great ally. Old-school drivers might object, but electronic launch control reduces the level of skill required to get off the line quickly, while "Competitive/Sport" modes for the stability system allow turning off many of the electronic aids, for doing your own thing.
Great Exterior Styling
Certainly beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we are of the opinion that the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro looks like a car that could command a much higher price tag. The details like the grille, rear roof pillars and taillights are simply gorgeous.
Camaros of old were great in a straight line, but a lot less great around corners, especially if the road surface was uneven. With its multi-link rear suspension instead of a live axle, the new Camaro is much more at home in those challenging situations.
Standing in sharp contrast to the brilliant execution of the Camaro's exterior is its rather lackluster interior. Large expanses of hard plastics on the doors and center console look and feel cheap, and will likely scratch easily over time. But, what the Camaro's interior lacks in execution it more than makes up for in design, with two large hooded binnacles housing the speedometer and tachometer, and an available gauge package for oil temp, oil pressure, volts and transmission fluid temp placed at the end of the center console. The thick-grip steering wheel feels welcome, but its position relative to the driver seems a bit high. Thankfully, the positioning and action of the manual transmission shifter is just right, as are the Camaro's supportive front seats. Some drivers did complain, however, about the absence of any form of adjustable lumbar support and everyone agreed the ridiculously tiny sun visors were all but useless when positioned to block the sun at the driver's side window. As for the Camaro's backseat, let's just say it is as small and confining as you would expect.
Some cars attempt a retro feel that just looks odd or over the top, but the Camaro's design team nailed the spirit of the original without insulting it. A stunning looker at every angle, the 2012 Camaro's visual appeal is striking. Nowhere is this more evident than the intersection between the massive rear fenders and the crisp-edged roof pillar, a joining that makes a bold statement as well as a massive blind spot for the driver. Of course, the aggressive recessed grille and headlamp treatment add an air of wickedness, as does the SS model's massive five-spoke wheel and tire package. Rounding out the look are classic hooded Camaro taillights and a subtle rear deck spoiler.
Perhaps the most notable standard item is the Camaro's good looks, accompanied by a supple and responsive suspension that makes this the best handling, most comfortable Camaro of all time. Cloth-upholstered, 6-way manually-adjusted driver and passenger seat are standard. The 11.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity can be increased with the standard fold-down rear seat. All models include a three-spoke steering wheel with manual tilt/telescope adjustment, plus cruise control and rear defogger. The Camaro's standard entertainment system is a single-CD radio with six speakers, and it offers XM Satellite Radio. All models also include power door locks and express up-and-down windows. Standard safety technologies include front dual-stage airbags, front seat-mounted thorax side-impact airbags, head-curtain side-impact airbags for front- and rear-seat occupants, front-seat safety-belt load limiters and pretensioners and a front-passenger detection system that senses children and small-stature adults and suppresses airbag deployment when appropriate.
While the base Camaro with V6 engine is reasonably well-equipped, some judicious checking of option boxes can add up to a more comfortable while still reasonably priced car. We liked the optional heated, leather-trimmed seats with driver 6-way power adjustment. On SS models, the seats feature a distinctive SS logo on the headrests with contrasting stitching, and an "Inferno Orange" interior trim package is also available with leather interiors. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, redundant steering-wheel controls, Bluetooth and USB port are part of the available "Driver Convenience and Connectivity" package, which also includes remote start on automatic transmission-equipped vehicles, as well as an interface module for iPods and the like. The available premium audio system is by Boston Acoustics, with nine speakers and 245 booming watts. An optional short-throw Hurst shifter provides quick, concise shifting, and there are a variety of available wheel-tire packages, including 21-inch machined aluminum wheels. Specific to 2012 is the 45th Anniversary Package which can be ordered on Camaro 2LT and Camaro SS. The package includes Carbon Flash Metallic black paint with red and silver striping, unique 20-inch wheels, HID headlamps, unique interior trim and 45th Anniversary badges.
The Camaro offers three engine choices - 323-horsepower 3.6-liter direct-injected LFX V6, 400-horsepower 6.2-liter L99 V8 with Active Fuel Management or 426-horsepower 6.2-liter LS3 V8. The V6 can be backed by either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. The L99 is accompanied by a 6-speed automatic with paddle-activated driver shift control, while the LS3 has a 6-speed manual.
323 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
278 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/29 (automatic), 19/30 (automatic 2LS), 17/28 (manual)
6.2-liter V8 (L99)
400 horsepower @ 5,900 rpm
410 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/24
6.2-liter V8 (LS3)
426 horsepower @ 5,900 rpm
420 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24
By Seth on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Exterior Styling, awesome base package features."
Cons: "Plastic Dash, blind spots,small windows throughout"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love the car. Even being 4 years old, it still turns heads and compliments on a daily basis. Besides tires & brakes, I have not had to replace anything on the vehicle. The tires, 20 inches; are very expensive to replace if you go OEM. There are some weird blind spots in the rear quarters that drivers will notice immediately, but you adapt quickly. The V6 is plenty powerful and I never noticed lag or sluggishness. Manufacture recommends regular fuel, but I have noticed a smoother engine, more MPG, and additional pep if you use a mid-grade fuel 88-90 octane. Overall, I don't regret my purchase at all. I would however opted for the 19 inch wheel and tire package instead of the 20. The 19 inch wheels also provide better feel economy, more affordable to replace, and offer a smoother ride."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Crazytony on Sunday, August 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Bang for your buck, quick, great gas mileage"
Cons: "Wish ls model came with sun roof option"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Underrated car, definitely get the stick shift, 7000rpm shifts make for lots of fun! 323hp in the base model, 30mpg highway, and a faster quarter mile than the 69 camaro big block. I've seen tests anywhere from 13.8 1/4mile to 14.3 1/4mile. Handles great, no complaints at all! Even driving the snow was no problem with the stock tires. I get compliments and thumbs up everywhere I go. I have a 2013 black on black ls manual trans v6."
By Boomer on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fair price, good value and SO COOL!"
Cons: "Could use more storage space inside."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Hugh clutch difference from my last car (2013 Mustang GT premium). I'm told it can't be adjusted because the clutch is hydraulic. Friction point is right off the floor! That aside, it's pretty cool' This car turns heads weather I'm moving or standing still, and it's loud! My neighbor says he can hear it from inside his house. I've got the much coveted 1LE pkg, so it's extra cool looking but I can't ever go through a car wash, and I can't use soap on certain places (carbon fiber hood and spoiler. The bluetooth works much better than the Mustang's Sync. Not as many options offered as the Mustang. More room inside and in trunk. Traded in the progressive turn signals for halo headlights (neither of witch can be seen while driving). You can't not feel good while driving this car. Thumbs up!"
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By camaro on Saturday, August 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "handles like a dream with many extras"
Cons: "can get you a speeding ticket if not careful"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car in 2/14. it has many extra options like tires for life on 20" nitro air tires. Paint job for life incase of any dents scratches etc. It also has state inspection for life in VA. Also has oil change for Life. Fully covered warranty bumper to bumper up to 70,000 miles. The warranty can be extended but have been advised to wait closer to 70,000. Its black and corners like its on rails. It is my primary car so I have put some miles on it. This is the best vehicle I have owned and is very theraputic. I am going thru a divorce and lawyers are draining me. looking for someone to love this car as much as I do"
24 people out of 48 found this review helpful
By Gearz00 on Friday, August 08, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Manual Transmission Grinding 2nd
Pros: "Power & Handling"
Cons: "Transmission problems, burning oil smell,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The transmission was rebuilt twice and 3rd gear was still not right. The car developed a burning oil smell like oil hitting an exhaust manifold but there were not visible leaks so I researched it and there was a bulletin for this condition to replace the rear main seal. After numerous visits to the dealer I gave up and traded the car in. The power and handling of the car were great but the rear tires needed to be replaced with only 11K. I hated that the fog lights were the DRL lights so they couldn't be used at night. The car was a poor choice and a waist of money."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Bob on Thursday, July 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "A ball to drive and attracks a pile of attention."
Cons: "Summer only vehicle, but that's why I bought it."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I'm a bit disappointed with the the construction of this vehicle. A $40,000.00+ vehicle and it has more plastic than metal. The plastic inner rear fenders hold the rear fenders together. That's GM. My other car is a 2013 Ford Taurus SHO. Much better quality contruction."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful