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Can a 2016 Chevy Camaro SS Outrun America’s Most Haunted Places?

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 2015-10-21 Elana Scherr, Kale Eickhof
Can a 2016 Chevy Camaro SS Outrun America’s Most Haunted Places?

It’s almost Halloween, and to celebrate we renamed a 2016 Camaro SS the “Super Spooky,” and are testing its road-trip abilities and our nerves by visiting some of the most haunted places from Detroit, Michigan, to Syracuse, New York. So far the scariest thing that’s happened was getting a talking-to from the local police in a small town in Ohio. For the record, we absolutely were not racing (but if we had been, we won).

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We started in the morning with a large group of brand-new Camaros, all taking part in a marketing push by Chevrolet to expand on its #FindNewRoads campaign. While other groups headed south toward Nashville, we braved the potholes of Detroit—the city is gentrifying, but the tarmac has been slow to get the message—and snuck through the rusted gates of the Whitney Mansion. The 1890s home has been a fancy restaurant since the 1980s and is rumored to have numerous ghosts, especially in the elevator. Guess the spirits are too lazy to take the stairs? We didn’t see any specters, but we did see a terrifying, unquestionably evil, all-black squirrel. We made our escape in the nick of time.

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If you were escaping from a tribe of death squirrels, or stair-averse spirits, you couldn’t do much better than the 2016 SS as a getaway vehicle. The new car is nimble and easy to drive. Its 455hp LT1 makes it plenty fast, and the back-up camera and warning-light side mirrors solve all the blind-spot problems. No zombies hiding in your C-pillar shadows. When you hear that the car handles better and feels smaller, that’s absolutely true. The SS weighs more than 200 pounds less than the 2015 model—although our highly optioned 2SS probably put some of that back on, like a dieter after Thanksgiving. We’re not sure if it’s the weight loss we feel, or if what weight there is has been put below the beltline, but the new Camaro turns better, scoots quicker, and stops smoother than its predecessors. We especially liked the well-balanced throttle and brake pedals, none of that heavy throttle and overly touchy stopper mismatch. We’ve been in the three-pedal car, too, and that adds the clutch in with the same attention to pressure. It’s a small thing, but makes the driving experience that much better.

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The upscale interior in the 2SS is the best a Camaro cockpit has looked since the houndstooth seats of the late 1960s. The dash design features a step-down that breaks up the long, dust-collecting expanse of modern safety requirements and the seats are the most comfortable of any new car we’ve been in. As we write this, we’ve just driven 400 miles, and all without the usual road-trip back complaints and numbed-bum.

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That’s not to say everything about the new design is perfect. We wanted a smaller Camaro, and GM gave us one. You can’t lose weight and inches without sacrificing some cabin space, and with two people and three days worth of gear and luggage, the 2016 was packed. Even without the camera bags in the back, the rear seats are about as useful as the hollow benches in a F.A.S.T.-class car. Your author measures out at barely 5 feet, 4 inches, and there isn’t a grown-up on the planet who could fit in the rear seat behind. Even in the passenger seat, space is at a minimum, as the Camaro transmission tunnel placement favors the driver. Behind the wheel, there’s plenty of space, so if you consider it a single-seater, then it’s huge. There’s enough headroom for a tall pilot, although the low roofline can make it difficult to see traffic lights. One last small whinge: the console is a little stingy, with the videographer’s phone plus ours, plus numerous caffeinated beverages to give us ghost-facing bravery, we ran out of room in the cupholders and narrow door storage. Not having a passenger would give you more space for snacks and electronics, so we recommend ditching all your friends now.

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Our road-trip SS is the eight-speed 8L90 automatic. It’s fine, it’s good, it’s faster than the manual, but having driven both, we’d spend our money on the stick. Things just aren’t as exciting when the car makes the gear choices. This isn’t the case for all the new cars we’ve tested, but the automatic Camaro is just too easy. Maybe that’s why we’re trying to scare ourselves with visits to haunted mansions and ghostly train stations? We finished up our first day in Buffalo, New York, where we scouted around the remains of the Buffalo Central Terminal train station. It’s reportedly haunted by a black cat and some phantom train passengers. We only saw some puddles and a kind of freaky light way up at the top of the tower. Our phones did go all funny, though, and we had a heck of a time navigating away from the place. Verdict? Probably haunted.

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