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Review – 2020 Camaro LT Convertible

Highs: Driving dynamics, engine refinement, styling, signature DRLs. Lows: Cheap-feeling interior, no place to put your phone.

Once behind the wheel of the Camaro I found myself driving for the sheer joy of it. I had the Camaro for a little more than two weeks, and during that time the car spent more time on the road than parked. I manufactured excuses to go for a ride. Every night of the week I stayed out well past my bedtime looking for new roads to experience. I drove the highways and backroads of the Bay Area, the PCH, the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Sierra Foothills and even throughout Lake Tahoe and Northern Nevada. This is an intoxicating car to drive. The superb driving dynamics rival sports cars costing tens of thousands more.

The chassis is solid to the point that the Camaro feels like it’s machined from one solid block of aluminum. There is no twisting or shaking of the body; even with the top down, cowl shake is nearly nonexistent. The chassis doesn’t upset easily, not even on broken pavement. It’s just as solid as a railroad trestle. That also made the Camaro squeak and rattle free.

Alameda Post - 2020 Chevrolet Camaro LT convertible
2020 Chevrolet Camaro LT Convertible. Photo John Berg.

Top-down is tops

The Camaro Convertible was delivered to me top-down on a warm and sunny day, perfect for topless motoring. I have to admit I had a big goofy grin on my face just looking at the Camaro. It’s a great looking car, even in white, which was the color of my test ragtop.

I should explain that I requested a coupe with the intent of comparing the Chevy to a Dodge Challenger I had just reviewed, but the convertible was the only Camaro available. When the Camaro and the Challenger are parked side-by-side the Camaro is noticeably smaller. The Camaro’s design looks taunt and purposeful and by comparison makes the Challenger look tall and bulky. Of course, looks are subjective so I’ll refrain from making any judgements about which car looks better. Both the Dodge and the Chevy are expressive and dramatically styled cars and I happen to find both very appealing.

The first thing I did was to transfer my duffle bag and wind breaker from the trunk of the Challenger to the trunk of the Camaro. I was shocked to discover the Camaro’s trunk is tiny to the point of being comedic. My small duffel bag nearly filled the trunk.

I will qualify this observation by explaining the Camaro is a convertible and the trunk has a partition to accommodate storage of the convertible top. The partition physically and visually blocks off two thirds of the trunk space. The partition can be removed but doing so prevents you from operating the top. With or without the partition, the Camaro has an oddly shaped trunk that’s half the size of the Challenger’s. I don’t think too many convertible buyers are concerned with trunk space, but the Camaro’s trunk is limited to the point that it may be a dealbreaker for some.

My test Camaro ran 0 to 60 mph in a brisk 5.6 seconds, but it feels even faster.  This might be the most powerful normally aspirated V6 I’ve ever driven. The direct injection engine was smooth and sounded refined. The standard exhaust system emitted a pleasing bark when driven aggressively.

Disappointing interior saved by power roof

If you’re a driving enthusiast like me, you’ll be enamored with the Camaro’s styling, build quality, excellent engine, and superb chassis but many consumers will be disappointed with the interior. The interior of the Camaro was reminiscent of domestic car interiors from the 70s and 80s, right down to undersized cup holders and a complete absence of any place to put your cellphone. I understand that higher trim lines provide a wireless charger for your cellphone but even that is positioned at the aft end of the console, making it nearly inaccessible to front seat occupants.

I had some difficulty adjusting the six-way power seats. You can’t put the seats all the way back without raising them, too. I found this odd and counterintuitive. The center stack display is canted rearward at the top which makes for an awkward look. But, after a while, I realized the angle effectively controls glare and makes the display easy to read, even in direct sunlight.

The HVAC fan and temperature controls are adjusted by turning a large knurled aluminum trim ring surrounding the AC vents. As someone who doesn’t care for passengers manipulating the HVAC vents—which historically have been fragile and easy to break—I find this control arrangement annoying.

I also found the power window switches to be counterintuitive. You have to throw a selector switch to choose between front or rear window operation and use the same two power window switches to control both sets of windows. In other words, it’s impossible to operate all the windows simultaneously. I should note, this is only an issue with the convertible as the coupe’s rear windows are fixed.

The exception to the disappointments of the interior is the power roof. Kudos to GM for the slick power convertible ragtop.  Lowering or raising the roof is done with a single button, there are no levers or latches to manipulate. Top-down driving was thoroughly enjoyable, and airflow was managed well. It’s possible to carry on a normal conversation on the freeway while the top is down. With the top up, the insulated double layer ragtop is nearly as quiet as a hardtop.

2020 Camaro LT convertible by the numbers

Fuel economy was excellent for a powerful V6 convertible. The Camaro’s computer indicated an average of 21.2 miles per gallon over 349 miles of spirited driving. After 450 miles of driving the economy improved to 22.6 miles per gallon. I expect that owners of the 3.6L Camaro will get even better fuel economy. According to the EPA the Camaro V6 gets 18 City, 29 Highway. I drove the Camaro fairly aggressively and the test example had only 5,000 miles clocked on the odometer. Typically fuel economy improves as an engine breaks in.

I only had one problem with the Camaro over my two weeks. I took the car through a touchless car wash and afterwards the rear-view camera had moisture trapped behind the lens rendering the camera useless.

I’m dying to compare the V6 Camaro LT with a 6.2L V8 powered example. I can only speculate the fun factor will be amplified, but the V6 powered Camaro is plenty powerful. It’s a compelling sports car with an excellent power to weight balance.

The 2020 Camaro LT Convertible has a base price of $31,500.

John Berg is the Automotive Editor of the Alameda Post. Contact him via [email protected].

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Alameda Post Inc. applied to the IRS for 501 (c)(3) non-profit status earlier this year. Members will be notified when the IRS sends a positive determination letter, making their membership or donation tax-deductible. Monthly members will receive their benefits after three months of membership. Memberships including tickets to history walking tours will be offered in limited quantities.