In this car, the sun is always shining

All week long I felt like Guy Fieri cruising around the country in a red Chevy Camaro SS convertible in search of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Only instead of Guy’s vintage ‘67 model, I was cruising around in the current model Camaro, SS convertible, which I predict will also be a classic.

And yes, I have uttered the phrase “winner, winner chicken dinner” more than a few times this week and Camaro fans literally followed me into the parking lot to check out the car.

And yes, it drives as well as it looks.

The only accessory you need to add is a pair of sunglasses (and in my case a hat) and you have the ultimate car of coolness.

Before I get into waxing prose, I probably should take care of a little nuts and bolts for this week’s review.

For the 2011 model year, the four-passenger, rear-wheel drive Camaro is available again in coupe and convertible body styles. Consumers have their choice of three trim levels — LS, LT and the Super Sport (SS) high-performance model.

A 3.6-liter V-6 engine that has been enhanced for the 2011 model year, now generating 312 horsepower, powers the Camaro LS and LT models. Mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 18 mpg city, 29 mpg highway using regular unleaded gasoline.

For those wanting more power, the Camaro SS is powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 generating 426 horsepower and 420 lbs.-ft. torque. Mated to a Tremec six-speed manual (six-speed auto optional), it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 16 mpg city, 25 mpg highway using premium unleaded gasoline (recommended but not required).

For the sake of comparison with Guy’s ‘67 model, the new Camaro SS delivers about twice the fuel economy — and with 130 extra horses.

It also comes with all the modern safety features and creature comforts, like a kick butt and take names audio system with XM Satellite Radio and a Head-Up Display unit that’s now standard on all SS models.

If you haven’t driven a vehicle with Head-Up Display, it’s a feature that really makes driving safer. As we all know, the key to safe driving is being alert and keeping your eyes on the road. The Head-Up Display projects information (vehicle speed, radio information) on the windshield just below the driver’s line of sight with the horizon, allowing constant flow of relevant information without the driver ever having to take their eyes off the road. The new Camaro models also come with a six-month OnStar subscription, which includes the program’s Connections and Directions plan. If you’re lost or need directions, just push the OnStar button and receive turn-by-turn directions to your location.

If you haven’t guessed, I’m a big fan. If you’re looking for the ultimate car in cool, take the Camaro for a test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

MODEL:

2011 Chevy Camaro

4-seat coupe or convertible 

Rear-wheel drive

Trim packages:

LS, LT, SS

PRICE RANGE:

$23,000-$45,000

ENGINE:

3.6-L V6 (312 hp/278 torque)

6.2-L V8 (426 hp/420 torque)

TRANSMISSION:

6-speed manual

6-speed auto

6-speed Tremec manual

EPA: 18/16 mpg city, 29/25 mpg highway (V6/V8 auto)

FUEL: Regular unleaded (premium recommended but not required for V8).

TRACTION CONTROL:

StabiliTrak electronic stability control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 190.4 inches

WHEELBASE: 112.3 inches

WIDTH: 75.5 inches

HEIGHT: 54.2 inches

WEIGHT: 3769-3902 lbs.

TRACK: 63.7/64.1

(front/rear)

TIRES: 18-, 19- or 20-inch

COMPETITION: Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang, Nissan 370Z