2011 Chevrolet Camaro RS Road Test Review

Jason McLoughlin - CAP staff
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Owning a fast car is one thing, but owning a muscle car like the new 2011 Camaro from Chevrolet brings a whole new "cool" factor to any average Joe.

Whenever anyone my age that I know looks back at our old photographs from the seventies and eighties and see the hairstyles and goofy looking clothes we wore, we can't help but say, "What the heck were we thinking?" But whenever we see the muscle cars from that era we still drop our jaws and begin to drool. There's something to be said for the styling of these timely old classics that can still motivate the heartbeat today. But owning a classic muscle car, whether an original or a modern-day version, is more than just ownership. It's a lifestyle.

Stepping into the new 2011 Camaro RS, there really isn't much to it as far as luxuries go. Actually it's downright plain inside, by the standards of most manufacturers these days. But looks can be deceiving. General Motors has done a great job in maintaining the original look and styling of the old classic, and has obviously made some upgrades since then, which I'll share with you shortly.

In the old days, muscle cars were basically a body on a frame with a large engine sending tons of power down to big fat tires needed to keep it stuck to the road. Now if you keep that same mindset and add in some of the latest technological advances, such as traction and stability control (Stabilitrak), anti-lock brakes (ABS), direct-injection, variable valve timing, and an independent rear suspension for far superior handling, you've got yourself a Camaro RS. It's a modern-day classic that looks as cool as anything from Chevy's past, but drives like a thoroughly updated road car.

The new Camaro RS comes with a 3.6-litre V6 VVT (Variable Valve Timing), Direct Injection engine that creates 312 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque, maintaining the same torque figure from last year but now up an extra 8 horsepower. That's quite a bit more than what than the original Camaro had under the hood, even with the optional V8. The Camaro is also available as an SS with a 6.2-litre V8 that pushes out more than 400 horsepower. After driving both versions of the Camaro, you can definitely feel the power difference between the two, but that doesn't mean the lighter RS isn't fun to drive.

Earlier generation muscle cars were known for their performance in a straight line, much to do with solid rear axles and much less weight than anything produced these days. For these reason you'll probably see a few originals at your local drag strip any given Sunday. Due to previous experience with older Camaros I was pleasantly surprised at the way the new one handled when pushed into some tight corners. The car felt as well balanced through the curves as it did when stretching its legs on long straight-ways.

During the summer of 2010 I had the opportunity to show off a 2010 Camaro SS at an exotic car rally in Chicago. Honestly, I was questioning what the heck I was doing at an exotic car event with a classic muscle car wannabe, but when lined up beside all the fancy European metal it stole the show. I was even fortunate enough to take a few celebrities out for a drive, like Chicago native Scotty Pippen and actress Bai Ling.

Without going too far off topic, I was really trying to explain that the new Camaro, SS or RS since the body styling is the same, really commands attention. With large 20-inch polished aluminum wheels and high rear "body builder" shoulders, it gives the impressions of a fierce beast ready to pounce on its prey.

As mentioned, Chevy kept the interior styling similar to its classic low-key predecessors, but gave it some of today's features to accommodate market expectations for luxury and convenience. Such upgrades include a leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a leather-wrapped shift knob, Bluetooth connectivity, a high-end sound system from Boston Acoustics, and XM satellite radio.

The Camaro RS version that I drove also came with the Hydramatic 6T70 six-speed automatic transmission, making for effortless shifting during city driving and lots of gears to choose from out on the highway, which improves fuel economy for those longer trips by keeping the engine revs to a minimum.

The new 3.6-litre doles out gobs of power from it's direct injection technology while delivering excellent fuel economy compared to V6 models of GM's past. The Canadian rating is estimated at 12.4 L/100km in the city and 7.1 on the highway with the manual gearbox and 11.4 / 6.9 with the automatic. Even better, it only needs cheaper regular fuel.

Pricing for the Camaro RS version as tested in 2LT trim with metallic paint and 20-inch rims is $36,710 including destination, which is more than reasonable for a modern-day classic that can be driven all year round.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Chevrolet, 2011, Camaro, $30,000 - $39,999,

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