First Drive: Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Edition

Story and photographs by Benjamin Greene

Originally published by Dupont Registry: http://www.dupontregistry.com/autos/NewsCenter/NewsCenterDetails.aspx?mmysid=4140

2012 Camaro SS 45th Anniversary

We could understand why some people would want the Transformers Special Edition Camaro (it turns into a robot, right?), but the appeal of the 45th Anniversary package for the 2012 Camaro evaded us. After all, the Camaro has only been available for 38 years if you take into account the long hiatus between the years of 2002 and 2010. But that all changed when we noticed the red and blue stitching running down the center of the transmission shift lever of our 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Edition test car. Sitting in a car that embodies the American spirit in its heritage and trim package resonated within. The fact that it is produced in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, did not dissuade us.

For $1,375, the 45th Anniversary package comprises an exclusive Carbon Flash Metallic paint; red and charcoal hood stripe; 20-inch silver-painted aluminum wheels; jet-black interior with large white inserts for the doors and dash unit; red, white, and blue accent stitching for the leather; and 45th logos for both the exterior and interior.

Beyond these modifications, it is the same Camaro that we spoke have spoken highly of in the past. The only difference between this test car and other Camaro test cars was the automatic transmission, so we focused on getting to know it a little better to see how it compares to the manual.

Our biggest gripe with the manual transmission would be its tall gearing, especially for its first gear. The manual Camaro SS Convertible we tested was good for 50 mph in first gear, so we had to rely on its fat low-end torque in first and second gear for most of our around-town motivation. This is fine. But sometimes we just wanted to plant the pedal and row some gears, an act that would have put us at some very illegal speeds.

We aren’t huge fans of the manual mode in most automatic transmission, but the Camaro’s was pleasant enough; it snapped off relatively quick shifts and would blip the throttle when executing downshifts. The two shift paddles are behind and rotate with the steering wheel; the right paddle is for upshifts, and the left paddle is for downshifts. Unlike the manual, the automatic transmission’s higher gear ratios require more involvement from the driver, adding to the excitement when hustling around town. Unfortunately, we still can’t say we would prefer the automatic transmission over the connection offered by the manual. To top things off, the LS3 engine creates 26 less horsepower and has to move an additional 50 pounds when connected to the automatic transmission. This results in slightly slower acceleration numbers.

2012 Camaro 45th Auto Peelout
Another stint in the Camaro did make us appreciate the car’s connection to the road even more. The steering featured good heft and feedback, a precise nature, and solid grip. It stayed composed no matter how hard we flung it into sharp turns and corners.

Our only gripes would be the same gripes we have had in the past. The Camaro feels big, but the inside isn’t spacious. Headroom is limited both front and rear, but the rear occupants will be more focused on the scarce legroom. Some argued that the blind spots were rather large, but a new backup camera that displays an image on the left side of the rear-view mirror and warning beeps from the parking assist system should help qualm those concerns.

The 45th Anniversary package is available on the top trim levels for both V-8 and V-6-equipped coupes and convertibles. While not for everyone, its unique paint, patriotic interior, and low price should help make it a standout option for 2012.

Vehicle Specs

Base Price
$36,825

Engine
6.2-liter V-8

Horsepower
400 hp @ 5,900 rpm

Torque
410 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm

Transmission
6-speed automatic

0–60 mph
4.8 seconds (estimated)

Top Speed
159 mph (limited)

Weight
3,902 lb

Length
190 inches

Tires
Front: 245/45ZR-20, Rear: 275/40ZR-20

FOR
Patriotic package

AGAINST
Automatic and manual transmissions each have their own bonuses
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