2012 Chevrolet Camaro Review and Prices

Last Updated: Oct 25, 2010

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2012 Chevrolet Camaro Buying Advice

The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro is the best car you if you want a sporty ride that looks like the cars your mother warned you about.

The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro will gain an ultra-mean high-performance flagship called the ZL1, adding to its ever-expanding lineup of coupes and convertibles. The core models – V-6 LS and LT trims levels and the V-8 SS – will return for model-year 2012 with no significant cosmetic or mechanical changes. Chevy, however, has promised a new Camaro variant every six months or so, leaving open chances that the 2012 lineup could hold a surprise or two. In any event, the sinister styling of the 2012 Camaro will keep it the nastiest-looking member of an American pony-car trio that also includes the 2012 Ford Mustang and 2012 Dodge Challenger.

Should you wait for the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro or buy a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro? Despite its arguably narrower appeal, Camaro outsold archrivals Mustang and Challenger for 2010 and began 2011 in the lead, too. Most Camaro buyers are quite happy with an LT or SS, and those won’t change enough for model-year 2012 to compel you to wait. If you’re among the muscle mavens or collectors itching for the 550-horsepower 2012 Camaro ZL1, the answer is obvious. And if you’re curious about additional Camaro flavors Chevy has in store (Z28, anyone?), you’ll need to wait, too. Otherwise, buy a 2011 Camaro and live it up before Chevy raises prices on the 2012s.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro Changes back to top

Styling: The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro will continue as a two-door coupe and convertible, both of which seat four passengers. With styling that channels the spirit of the classic 1969 Camaros, these are chiseled shapes with low-slung profiles that enhance their character but restricts interior roominess and outward visibility. Overall, the 2012 Camaro will remain smaller inside and out than the 2012 Challenger and marginally larger outside than the 2012 Mustang, though no more spacious inside.  

Expect the 2012 Camaro to return a core lineup that consists of coupes in base LS trim and coupes and convertibles in better-equipped LT and SS form. SS models come with more aggressive exterior trim details and larger wheels and tires, but at a glance aren’t visually dissimilar to the other models – part of a strategy to make every Camaro look tough, no matter its price. Camaro convertibles have a power-operated canvass top that includes a glass rear window with defroster. The retracted roof occupies a well behind the rear seat and also takes up some room otherwise devoted to the trunk, reducing Camaro’s already precious cargo volume to just 7.9 cubic feet. 

Variations on the core lineup will include the 2012 Camaro ZL1, which will be offered only as a coupe. Named for a limited-edition race-ready 1969 Camaro, the 2012 ZL1 is billed as the fastest production Camaro ever. Its mechanical highlights are covered below, but the ZL1 will have unique styling touches intended to enhance performance. These include a front fascia shaped to provide aerodynamic downforce and a hood vented to improve airflow and infused with a contrasting-color carbon-fiber panel to reduce weight. Also joining the 2012 Camaro cast will be a Transformers edition costumed to mimic the car’s big-screen role in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” Chevy also will make V-6 2012 Camaros available with the special Synergy cosmetic dress-ups offered for a time during the 2011 model year.

Among returning styling alternatives will be the RS appearance package for LT and SS models. It adds an SS-type spoiler to LTs and gives both cars xenon headlamps with integrated LED halos, specific taillamps, and special-finish 20-inch wheels. Expect all 2012 Camaros to again have alloy wheels, with 18s standard on the LS and LT lines, 19s available for LTs, and 20s standard on SS models. Among appearance accessories available through Chevy dealers are 21-inch wheels and additional aero-inspired body add-ons.

Mechanical: The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro will continue with rear-wheel drive, the classic performance-car layout preferred for its weight balance and handling characteristics – though not necessarily for traction in snowy weather. Every 2012 Camaro will again come with traction and antiskid control to improve grip away from stops and in turns, but if you live in the snowbelt, be aware that a front-wheel-drive car is probably the better bet for fuss-free year-round mobility.    

All 2012 Camaro LS, LT, and SS models will again be available with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. The automatic includes steering-wheel-mounted paddles for manual-type gear changes.

The 2012 Camaro LS and LT models will continue with a 3.6-liter V-6 that should remain at 312 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque (envision torque as acceleration’s secret ingredient, horsepower as the headline-grabber).

The 2012 Camaro SS models will return with a 6.2-liter V-8 that’s likely to retain two power ratings, depending on transmission. With manual transmission it’ll probably again be rated at 426 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. With automatic, it’ll probably return at 400 horsepower and 410 pound-feet. Automatic-transmission SSs employ GM’s Active Fuel Management System, which saves gas by shutting off four cylinders in low-demand driving, such as highway cruising. 

The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will have a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 preliminarily rated at 550 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. It’ll come only with a fortified six-speed manual transmission and be equipped with beefed-up drivetrain components, electric power steering, performance exhaust, six-piston-caliper Brembo brakes, and special 20-inch wheels wearing high-performance-tread tires.

A word about the Camaro’s chassis. It’s arguably the most sophisticated in its competitive set, with an all-independent suspension versus Mustang’s solid rear axle and a ride/handling balance superior to that of the Challenger. In addition, the 2012 Camaro ZL1 will get a reworked setup with segment-exclusive Magnetic Ride Control that adjusts suspension stiffness automatically to suit road conditions and can be driver-customized for handling or comfort. This GM-developed magneto-rheological suspension technology is also used by Ferrari.

Features: The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro will likely continue to parse LT models into 1LT and richer 2LT trim levels and SS models into 1SS and 2SS subdivisions. The base LS trim probably will remain exclusive to coupes. Again standard on every 2012 Camaro will be cruise control, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, power locks and mirrors, and power windows with express up and down for driver and front passenger.

Critics dislike Camaro’s three-spoke steering wheel because of its awkward integration of audio and cruise buttons. Chevy says the 2012 ZL1 will have its own, redesigned wheel, but the little-loved version will probably be held over for mainstream 2012 Camaros. Any version will include manual tilt/telescope adjustment, and the ZL1 will additionally feature alloy brake, throttle, and clutch pedals.

Expect cloth upholstery to remain standard on 2012 Camaro LS, 1LT, and 1SS models. Leather should again be standard on the 2LT and 2SS, along with heated power front seats. The ZL1 will build on the 2SS’s standard equipment and add microfiber-suede front-seat inserts to help hold occupants in place during high-g cornering; the inserts will repeat on the dashboard. The ZL1, 2LT, and 2SS models should continue with an auxiliary console-mounted instrument cluster displaying such data as oil pressure and temperature and transmission-fluid temperature; the ZL1’s will also include a supercharger-boost gauge.

Among key convenience features, expect Bluetooth cell-phone linking, a USB iPod interface,
and a head-up instrument display to be standard on ZL1, 2LT, and 2SS models and available at extra cost on selected other 2012 Camaros. Automatic transmission-equipped Camaros will again be available with remote engine start. Also continuing will be an available ambient light package that employs LED “light pipe” technology to give the cabin a nighttime glow.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro Prices back to top

Prices for the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro were not released in time for this review but core models should not be significantly costlier than their 2011 counterparts. Estimated base-price range for the 2012 Camaro is $24,000-$41,000, with the 2012 ZL1 coupe coming in at an anticipated $47,000 or so. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Chevrolet’s fee for the 2011 Camaro was $850.).

Expect the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro LS coupe to start around $24,000. That’s with the six-speed manual transmission that’ll be standard on 2012 Camaros. Adding the six-speed automatic to a 2012 LS, LT, or SS should again cost around $995.

Estimated base price of the 2012 Camaro 1LT coupe is $25,200 and it should again add to the LS coupe such standard features as alloy wheels, upgraded cloth upholstery, a power driver’s seat, and fog lamps. Expect the 2012 Camaro 1LT convertible to be priced from $35,000; it should again reflect 1LT coupe equipment. 

Estimated base price is $28,600 for the 2012 Camaro 2LT coupe and $34,000 for the 2012 Camaro 2LT convertible. As in model-year 2011, the 2LTs should again build on 1LTs by adding 19-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery and power heated front seats, heated power mirrors, the head-up instrument display, Bluetooth, and a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system with a USB iPod interface.

The 2012 1SS Camaro models will start at an estimated $33,300 for the coupe and an estimated $38,000 for the convertible. In addition to the V-8, expect 2012 Camaro1SS standard features to again include four-piston Brembo-brand vented disc brakes, a limited-slip differential, 20-inch alloy wheel, and SS-specific nose and tail trim and seat embroidery.

Estimated base price for the 2012 Camaro 2SS coupe is $35,600. Figure the 2012 Camaro 2SS convertible to start around $41,000. The 2SS coupe and convertible will continue to augment the 1SS models with luxury and feature upgrades that mirror those the 2LTs provide over the 1LT models.

High-profile Camaro options expected to return for model-year 2012 include the RS package (around $1,600), a power sunroof for coupes (about $900), contrasting-color racing stripes (about $470) and 21-inch alloy wheels (from $4,680).

2012 Chevrolet Camaro Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro were not released in time for this review, but V-6 versions and the SS models likely won’t stray far from their model-year 2011 ratings.

That suggests 2012 Camaro LS coupes and LT coupes and convertibles will rate 17/29 mpg city/highway with manual transmission and 18/29 with automatic.

Expect the 2012 Camaro SS coupe and convertible with the manual transmission and 426-horsepower-V-8 to rate 16/24 mpg. Those with the automatic transmission and 400-horsepower-V-8 should again rate 16/25 mpg. An educated guess would put the six-speed-manual-only 2012 Camaro ZL1 at something like 14/23 mpg.

Chevy will likely to continue to recommend regular-grade 87 octane gas for V-6 Camaros and premium-grade 91-octane for SS models; it’s apt to require premium for the ZL1.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro Release Date back to top

The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is due in showrooms in early 2012. The 2012 Camaro LS, LT, and SS models should go on sale in late summer or early autumn 2011. Other 2012 Camaro variants could be released from late 2011 through 2012.

What's next for the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro back to top

Chevy’s jazzed about the prospect of keeping this generation Camaro fresh by adding trim and performance variations every six months or so. And it acknowledges a deep pool of historic badges upon which to draw. It’s already tapped SS, RS, and ZL1. There’s always Berlinetta and IROC-Z of course, but Z28 is by far the most prominent card in the retro deck.

A resurrected Z28 could take several forms, perhaps the most predictable being a V-8 model slotting in performance and price between the SS and ZL1. A more adventurous approach might be as a weight-conscious curve-hugger with, say, a turbocharged or supercharged version of the 3.6-liter V-6. The original Z28s of the late 1960s were after all born to compete in the Trans American road-racing series and they used V-8s of small displacement and light weight. A blown V-6 could provide their modern-day successor with plenty of power but without the nose-heavy mass that’s counterproductive to sharp handling.

The 2012 Camaro traces its design lineage to the model-year 2010 introduction of a Camaro coupe built on a rear-drive platform developed by GM’s Australian Holden arm. The platform also underpinned the short-lived Pontiac G8 sedan and was in use for several years before the Camaro and G8 adapted it. Its replacement is on the drawing boards.

Due for model year 2014 or 2015, the future Camaro will likely employ a new rear-drive architecture being developed for the next-generation Cadillac CTS, which GM reportedly is repositioning as a smaller, BMW 3-Series fighter.

The new platform will make possible improved fuel economy and better handling, and the next Camaro could well have tighter dimensions than today’s model. It’ll almost certainly carry less weight. Chevy’s likely to capitalize on the reduced bulk by offering the sportiest versions with a turbocharged or supercharged, direct-injection V-6 designed to furnish V-8-like thrust but with better mileage. Don’t, however, rule out a V-8 for the top-dog performance models.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro Competition back to top

Ford Mustang: The rivalry dates to the 1960s and is strong as ever in the 2010s. The 2012 Mustang will return in coupe and convertible form, each seating four and offering V-6s and V-8s mirroring those of the Camaro. Expect the V-6 to return with 305 horsepower, the Mustang GT’s V-8 with 412, and the supercharged-V-8 Shelby GT500 with 550. Sound familiar? Six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions will return. Compared to the Camaro, Mustang comes across as a less severe execution of the pony car formula, a little easier to get into and see out of and not as intimidating styling-wise. Expect a 2012 Mustang base-price range of roughly $23,500-$36,000 for V-6 and GT models, with the Shelby starting around $50,000.

Dodge Challenger: Available only as a coupe, Challenger is the only one of these pony cars large enough to seat five, and it has a 16.2-cubic-foot trunk, dwarfing the 11.3 and 13.4 cubic-foot volume of the Camaro and Mustang coupes, respectively. Challenger’s size is an asset if you’re looking for a degree of practicality, not so hot if your aim is nimble handling and lightening acceleration. Still, Challenger’s in the game with base V-6 SE models that’ll probably return with 305 horsepower, Hemi-V-8 R/Ts likely to be back with 383, and the flagship SRT8 returning with a 470-horse Hemi. Expect the V-8s to again be available with a six-speed manual, but Challenger’s been behind the times with a five-speed as its only automatic. Estimated 2012 Challenger base prices are $26,000 for the SE, $31,000 for the R/T, and $44,900 for the SRT8.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro Next Steps