Buy a 2019 Chevy Camaro 2SS Convertible, and you won't care about that grille everybody was so upset about. You know, the one that Chevy performed an emergency redesign on? You might even start to like it. And you’re not going to care that, with its top up, the gun slit of a rear window makes its rear camera a life or death requirement.
You won't mind that the greenhouse is short, the roofline is low and the driver's door is level with your shoulder. If you enjoy cruising on a warm summer day with your elbow resting on an open window frame, it'll be awkward in this car. But you won't mind giving that up.
You’ll note with disinterest that the front seat back is in full contact with the rear seats. Backseats in these cars are a joke anyway. Who needs passengers?
You’re wonder briefly whether the person who designed the squarish double instrument binnacle and the person who designed the creases on the hood ever compared notes. From behind the wheel it all looks like a small disaster at sea, an overturned catamaran hull that's about to drift into a beam wave. Though this bit of design discord on an otherwise beautiful car is right in front of you, you'll soon quit noticing it.
You’re not going to care about the premium Bose sound system. You’ll never turn it on.
You're not going to worry about the environment. Well, OK, that you might feel a little guilty about. On the window sticker's 1-through-10 EPA smog rating scale, with 10 being the best, this car rates a big fat 1. And 18 mpg was about the best I could do.
You’ll not care about most of those things, nor any other nit you might pick regarding the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS convertible. Because if you own this car, you’re going to put the top down. And once that top comes down, nothing else matters.
Open-air driving, unless maybe it’s raining or snowing, is why anyone buys a convertible. The air, the light, even the smells make driving just a little more special. Hot day? Soak up that sun. Cold day – winter, even? That's why they make sweaters and jackets. Plus the Camaro has huge vents the size of softballs that pump out the heat. As I drove along on a cold, clear November day in Seattle, I got a "you're nuts" glance from a guy in an Audi convertible whose top was up. Hey, if he's too delicate a flower to drive his convertible with the top down on a beautiful day like this, why’d he even buy it?
But the Camaro 2SS has an even greater incentive to drop the top: its 6.2-liter V8 with 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. You want the top down because you want to hear that engine, to experience it. At times the V8 purrs; mostly, its optional dual-mode performance exhaust sounds feral. Startup (video below) is sharp and raucous, and hard downshifts bring all kinds of burbles and pops. Now, to get a hard downshift, you have to paddle through, oh, three of four gears of the 10-speed automatic. Chevy says you can hold the paddle down to downshift through several gears at once, but the technique can quickly take you farther than you wanted to go. And besides, if it's braking you want, the car has four-piston Brembos.
It is a performance car that is, incongruously, a convertible – a car equipped with track mode that might not be allowed on your local track. And short of tracking it, you don’t need an engine this powerful to simply cruise around with the top down. But it sure sounds good. Which is why you’ll never listen to that sound system.
Silver and gray cars are usually boring, but something about this Camaro in Satin Steel Gray was extra dressy – and the black grille everyone was so riled up about sets the color off nicely, all finished off with a "Flow-tie." The interior is pretty nice for a GM product, with two-tone leather seats, LED piping on the dash and doors, and a set of huge illuminated CAMARO sill plates.
The Camaro had almost none of the usual convertible shimmies and shakes. The 2SS performance suspension helped, along with whatever else they did to gain rigidity. You'd have to drive it back-to-back with a Camaro coupe for a true sense of how they differ, but as convertibles go, this has a solid feel.
A ball cap, helpful in any convertible, is a must in this one. The windshield visor is so low as to be useful only during the last five minutes of a sunset. And a tall driver's head pokes up into the slipstream, so stock up on caps, because you may lose a few along the way.
All told, as tested, this Camaro carried an MSRP of $48,000, with destination fee and a handful of options taking it up to $53,670. But, as much fun as it is, you don't need that big engine in 2SS trim to enjoy a Camaro convertible. And as you know, Camaro is third in the three-way pony car sales race. And we're at the end of a model year. And the snow is already flying. Which all sounds like a great time to get a screaming deal on a convertible.