The Chevrolet Camaro 2.0T Is the Perfect SoCal Car
A flashy-but-frugal pony car is just what you need on a freeway littered with movie stars.
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The Los Angeles area is a funny place. Visitors will notice immediately that you have to drive practically everywhere, and that many motorists tend to choose flashy cars to carry them through their daily submission to mind-numbing traffic jams. In a city where you're likely to rub elbows with movie stars and other celebrities on the freeway and where the area code on your phone can carry more weight than the list of books you've read, the car you drive says a lot about you as a person.
Personally—and I'm sure there are plenty of Angelenos like me—I don't really go for flashy cars. That said, it's easy to find yourself feeling a little self conscious in a beater when the people around you are driving glittering E-Class Benzes and Rolls-Royce convertibles. But I think I may have found the perfect compromise: a bright yellow Chevrolet Camaro 2.0T.
Along with the heavy traffic and image-heavy car culture, the Los Angeles metro also suffers from high fuel prices relative to the rest of the country. A muscle car that gets 13 miles per gallon (under realistic, heavy-right-foot driving conditions, mind you) can be great in Michigan, where fuel prices often drop below two bucks per gallon. In some places around the LA metro, the price of a gallon of fuel can surpass $4, which really hurts when it comes time to fill up.
So this bright yellow, 4-cylinder Camaro checks a lot of boxes. It's fuel efficient, flashy, and, with a decent sized trunk and a back seat that can fit a half-sized adult or two if somebody's too drunk to drive their own car home from a bar that's 45 minutes from their house (all too common in this locale), it's practical, too. Pulling up to a country club valet, the rich people in their S-Class sedans ignored me. But the valet guys were interested in the car, and that's good enough flash cred for me.
On top of that, it's fun to drive. There was a time when 4-cylinder Camaros were the bane of human existence. As our own Lawrence Ulrich pointed out, those days are over. When traffic loosened up enough to allow a California-style traffic slalom, the Camaro had enough power to scoot itself into and out of gaps in viscous traffic. The car was as happy on open stretches of the Pacific Coast Highway as it was in the twisties on Topanga Canyon Road.
But there's a yardstick by which all cars in Southern California should be measured, one that increases salability in a place lined with miles and miles of beaches. And that's the length of the car's roof. Sounds strange to landlubbers, but it's true. Can you strap a surfboard up there? If not, I'm not so sure it's the right car for this sunny, beach-fringed region. As luck would have it, the Camaro is surfboard compatible.
2016 CHEVROLET CAMARO 2.0T
POWERTRAIN: Turbocharged inline four-cylinder, 275 hp / 295 lb-ft; rear-wheel drive; 8-speed automatic transmission
MPG (CITY/HIGHWAY): 21/30
TOP SPEED: 130 mph
WHAT THE CAR WOULD SAY IF IT COULD TALK: "Bro, sig alert on the 405 for real."