This week was my first chance to sample the 2012 Chevy Camaro, which received several updates — mostly to its interior. These updates addressed most of the dissatisfaction and discontent with the Camaro’s cabin since the pony car’s relaunch in 2010, and even though the revised interior isn’t as good as a drop in weight (or an increase in power), it’s a start to perfecting one of the most lust-worthy vehicles on the planet.
As far as the interior is concerned, the 2012 Camaro gets a new steering wheel and revisions to the driver’s instrument panel, the occupant-facing cutaway of the dashboard (yes, that part is soft-touch but the rest of the dash ins’t), and a back-up camera system (that’s standard on the Convertible variant and optional on the Coupe). All these features unequivocally make the Camaro’s cabin either more attractive, as is the case with the new trim line on the dash, or more useful, such as with the back-up Camera system.
But the most controversial aspect of the updated cabin is most likely the steering wheel, which is the standard-issue Chevy wheel seen on the Cruze, Volt, Equinox, Sonic, and next-generation Malibu. While the wheel of the 2010 and 2011 models was unique to the Camaro, the 2012 doughnut takes that “solidarity” factor away. And while that may be an issue for some, it wasn’t for me: the new wheel is smaller, more comfortable, and a lot more grippy — placing a sports-car steering wheel to, well, a sports car. And while I didn’t get a chance to take the 2012 Camaro around a track, I could just imagine how much more useful the new wheel would be in such an environment — since it was very functional in the twisties where I was driving.
All in all, the new wheel is a welcome adjustment to the Camaro cabin: it may not have that retro look, but it certainly is a lot more functional. And as far as aesthetics are concerned, you can’t beat the look of the new wheel in my opinion, especially given the addition of a high-contrast stitching pattern or the “SS” badging seen at the 6-o’clock position. For those left scratching their heads about the Camaro sharing its steering wheel with an econo-box such as the Cruze (or even the Sonic/Aveo), it’s not about that. To the contrary, the wheel is really that good — so Cruze owners should feel lucky to have it.
Not to be forgotten, however, is the addition of the seat height adjustment for the passenger seat, ending a long list of complaints from passengers who weren’t able to see the road in their 2010 and 2011 model-year Camaros. What’s more, the rear seats have been fitten with tiny floor mats — which may have been included in pre-2012 model-year Camaros. If they were, we’ve never come across them.
Rounding out the changes to the cabin is the addition of door lock/unlock buttons to both doors, making for a total of three different places where one could lock or unlock the vehicle: the center stack (yes, the button is still present here), the driver-side door, or the passenger-side door. At this point, the buttons on the door make the switch on the center stack rather redundant and unnecessary.
Unfortunately, the 2SS Camaro Convertible we drove didn’t have the vaunted performance suspension (RPO FE4) that’s only present on SS coupe models… but we did notice that the convertible cover (the piece that one put on manually after the Camaro drops its top) had a few differences over the 2011 model. Gone are the plastic clamping hooks that were more difficult to hook down than Moby Dick; taking their place is a pair of soft loops that are much easier to use and that also bend down when folding up the top for storage. The convertible cover also sees the addition of shock-absorbing cushions that prevent the convertible top from rubbing on the convertible roof, something that we imagine could result in quicker-than-expected deterioration of the soft top.
All around, the changes to the 2012 Camaro are very welcomed. But until the cabin of the Chevy pony car gets the MyLink infotainment system, a touchscreen nav (at least as an option), as well as some other features, I’ll hold off on buying mine. Now, where’s that ZL1?