2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition Review: Introduction
To commemorate the first four and a half decades of the Chevrolet Camaro, Chevy is offering its celebrated muscle car with a unique 45th Anniversary Special Edition package for 2012. Available on both coupe and convertible models with either V-6 and V-8 engines, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro 45th Anniversary Special Edition might be a mouthful to say, but it is an eye-catching way to pay tribute to the last 45 years. Ok, technically it has only been 37 years for the Camaro thanks to an eight-year hiatus from 2002 through 2010, but we're just glad to see this car, and legendary name, back and doing well. Since its introduction just a couple years ago, the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro has been a popular model for Chevrolet, and this anniversary package, highlighted by its blacked-out appearance and unique body stripes, is a great way to celebrate the early success of the new Camaro as well all of the Camaros that came before it.
2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition Review: Pricing and Trim Levels
The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro is assembled in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada with a starting MSRP of $23,200, but the 45th Anniversary Special Edition package is only available on coupe and convertible models in the 2LT and 2SS trim levels. As a $1,375 option on the Camaro Coupe 2SS, the model used for this review had an as-tested price of $37,805 including the $900 destination charge; pricing for the 45th Anniversary Special Edition on the V-6 models is slightly higher at $1,625. Regardless of which model you choose to add this package onto, options are severely limited meaning that the 45th Anniversary Special Edition models should all look about the same. A Camaro Convertible with this 2SS will sit at the top of this commemorative quartet of trim levels with a starting price of $42,955.
2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition Review: Competition
Competition for the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS is primarily focused on the Ford Mustang GT and Dodge Challenger SRT8, but smaller, lighter sports cars like the Nissan 370Z and Hyundai Genesis Coupe could also be included in the mix. Since its triumphant return in 2010, the Camaro has dominated the reborn muscle car market with impressive sales, and the 88,249 Camaro models sold last year handily beat out the Mustang's 73,716 sales (including Boss and GT500 models) and more than doubled sales of the Challenger (39,534). Overall, Chevy Camaro sales have increased by sales were up 8.5 percent over 2010 while the Mustang sales dropped 4.4 percent; Challenger also saw a strong year with sales up 7 percent. With Camaro ZL1 headed to Chevy dealerships later this year, the muscle car wars have never been hotter or more potent!
2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition Review: Exterior
All 2012 Chevrolet Camaro 45th Anniversary Special Edition models look identical with a Carbon Flash Metallic black paint scheme finished off with asymmetrical rally stripes on the hood and decklid. These stripes are a major highlight and defining characteristic of this Camaro with the charcoal grey stripes getting a bright red accent on the driver's side of the car with a subtle "45" hood. Unique staggered-width 20-inch wheels and "45th" fender badges finish off the key package attributes. Not stopping there, Chevy also included the stylish RS Package on this special-edition car which includes one of the new Camaro's top visual features: the HID headlights with LED halo lights. Not only does the 45th Anniversary Edition include the popular RS add-ons, it only costs an extra $75 than the standalone package.
While all of the 45th Anniversary Special Edition cars look identical, Chevy's retail site lists an optional ($2,500) dealer-installed Ground Effects Package for those wishing to stand out a little (our car did not have this option). Of course, the only ways to tell the difference between the Camaro V-6 and SS model are the small badges on the grille and decklid as well as a narrow slit above the grille on the SS to feed additional air to the V-8.
2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition Review: Interior
For 2012, all Chevrolet Camaro models received a much-needed improvement to the cabin design, but the 45th Anniversary Special Edition added a more unique touch including an all-black leather interior accented with red, white and blue stitching throughout the cabin (such as the seats, steering wheel and shift lever). Other finishing touches for this package include the white trim on the instrument panel and door panels and the 45th Anniversary logo found on the instrument panel, door sills, steering wheel and embroidered into the driver and front passenger seat backs.
As far as styling changes go, the 2012 Camaro has a cleaner cabin design thanks to a new steering wheel, revised gauge cluster with less retro numbers and a slightly updated instrument panel with a leather stitched insert and reshaped center HVAC vents. Drivers should really appreciate the 2012 Camaro's steering wheel which is borrowed from other GM vehicles and provided a sportier feel rather than the previous steering wheel (used in 2010 and 2011) which seemed to be going for more of a retro feel. Another cool touch are the quartet of instrument gauges ahead of the shifter, but it still doesn't make sense that the Camaro does not offer a conventional touch-screen navigation system (turn-by-turn directions are available through OnStar). These directions, as well as vehicle speed and other pertinent information, can all be displayed on the heads-up display unit which was included in this packaging.
2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition Review: Interior Packages and Options
When equipped with the 45th Anniversary Special Edition package, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS is basically fully loaded and offers no additional interior options.
2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition Review: Powertrain and Fuel Economy
The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS is powered by a 6.2-liter V-8, but the exact output of said engine depends on the transmission. Drivers willing to shift their own gears will be rewarded with additional horsepower and torque from the LS3 V-8 to the tune of 426 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, while the cars equipped with the six-speed automatic make do with the L99 V-8 that puts out 400 hp and 410 lb-ft. Whether or not you can actually feel the difference between the two engines is irrelevant because it looks better on paper and sounds awesome coming from the tailpipe! One advantage that the L99 holds over the more powerful LS3 engine is that it offers GM's Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation system which helps improve highway fuel economy by 1 mpg. With the manual transmission, the 2012 Camaro SS has EPA-rated estimates of 16 miles per gallon in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in combined driving. Those looking for a little bit better fuel economy can still choose the 3.6-liter V-6 - on the LS and LT trim levels - which has seen its output go up from 312 horsepower last year to 323 horsepower without losing its fuel economy (up to 30 mpg highway).
2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition Review: Driving Impressions
Aside from the added styling this package brings, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition rides the same as any other Camaro. While this anniversary package doesn't come with any performance add-ons, all 2012 Camaro SS models do benefit from an updated suspension system. The new FE4 suspension brings new dampers and larger stabilizer bars to both the front and rear, and the mounting of the stabilizers have been repositioned in an attempt to reduce body roll and improve responsiveness in cornering. While the 2012 Camaro does feel better in the turns, it still doesn't feel as nimble as a Mustang, but that could be due to the fact that the Camaro SS coupe weighs about 250 pounds more than a comparable 2012 Mustang GT. When all is said and done, though, the new Camaro is probably one of the most noticeable cars on the road under $30,000, and it's hard not to have fun driving a car when you get plenty of looks and thumbs up in your direction.
2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition Review: Safety
The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro has yet to be tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the hardtop version of this muscle car was given a five-star rating in all four categories by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Standard safety features in all 2012 Chevrolet Camaro models include six airbags, daytime running lights, electronic brake-force distribution with brake assist, four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system, StabiliTrak stability control system, traction control and tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). All 2LT and 2SS Camaro trim levels also come standard with the new Rear Vision Package which adds a backup camera display to the rearview mirror in addition to the rear park assist sensors.
2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition Review: Final Thoughts
Not to imply that a standard 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS doesn't stand out enough as it is, but if you really want to get looks when you're out and about (whether pulling into a grocery store parking or your local car show), the 45th Anniversary Special Edition is the way to go. The best part of this commemorative package is that it adds a truly sinister look while sticking to the Camaro's low-cost credo; you really don't have to break the bank for this model. If we had to find anything wrong with the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition, it might be the fact that it isn't a limited-production model, but that just means that the majority of these cars [hopefully] won't end up locked away in someone's garage. So congratulations Camaro on your first 45 years of existence, and here's to a great-looking future... hopefully this time with no more "vacations."
2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS 45th Anniversary Special Edition Review: Pros and Cons
- low price for this attractive package
- unique paint color and striping scheme
- improved interior
- Camaro still doesn't offer in-dash navigation
- 45th Anniversary package is not limited in production
- even with updated suspension Camaro still feels less agile than Mustang
Chevrolet provided the vehicle for this review
Photos by Jeffrey N. Ross