The release of the new 2010 Chevy Camaro marks a momentous occasion. Not because it brings back a beloved musclecar, or because it completes the Big Three’s modern muscle car offerings, but because it is the first Chevrolet product that I’ve ever considered buying. This is a big deal!
I’m just gonna put it out there – the 2010 Chevy Camaro is a Rock Star. Nowhere else can you buy a car for under $25K that gets so much attention, so many thumbs-ups, so many people waving and yelling at you. Before Chevy dropped off our Rally Yellow Camaro to review, the rep warned me – “Add 20 minutes to each trip you make, Chris. People will stop you to talk about the car, take pictures, and it will take at least 20 minutes of your time each trip.” “That’s funny,” I thought, not realizing that he wasn’t exaggerating. Within the first hour of having the car, our Photographer Christine got stopped by a police officer just to talk about the Camaro, which took about 10 minutes.
The amazing thing here is that the new Camaro deserves 100% of this attention. Not only is it (in my opinion) the best looking car to sit on Chevy showrooms for at least 30 years, but it’s actually a great car. It’s as if GM officials held a meeting in 2006 in which they said “Alright guys, we had a good run. Now we need to start making good cars again. Let’s start it off with a bang.” And that they did…
Our tester is a Yellow-on-black 1LT RS. The RS appearance package is a must-have, adding 20-inch alloys, HID headlights with BMW-like halo rings, a rear spoiler, and “sinister-looking” tail lights. The LT trim level is middle-of-the-road in the lineup, above the LS (base) and below the SS (V8) models. The 3.6-liter 304 hp V6 is surprisingly peppy. Acceleration is available at any speed, and it seems like the engine just wants to keep going. Even though the Camaro is a muscle car, the V6 engine is a perfectly acceptable choice. I didn’t feel the same way about the Dodge Challenger, which makes sense only with the V8. The 304 horsepower from the Chevy V6 is routed through a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic (with Tapshift) gearbox to the rear wheels. I’m impressed with their decision to go with a 6-speed auto; a good transmission for the engine, but sluggish to downshift when stepping on it. The Tapshift system is just buttons behind the steering wheel, not actual paddles, which was a little disappointing. While the auto did the job fine, I would have preferred the manual transmission. Overall, the powertrain on this car impressed me, especially for a V6. 18 mpg city and 29 mpg hwy fuel economy is also impressive, and I averaged 24 mpg mixed – amazing, considering the way I was driving.
If the V6 isn’t enough for you, step up into the SS model, featuring a 6.2-liter V8 producing 426 hp. Now this is what muscle cars are made of. The SS is offered with the same 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, although if you opt for the automatic (don’t do it,) you’ll only get 400 hp, instead of the manual’s 426. Fuel economy (not that you care) is a respectable 16/24 mpg, or 16/25 with the auto.
The interior is comfortable and holds a nice balance between its retro roots and modern functionality. The gauge cluster and steering wheel design bring you back to the old 70’s Camaro, but provide you with plenty of modern technology. A standard auxiliary jack and two hidden 12V outlets allow you to use your gadgets, and the optional Convenience and Connectivity Package adds Bluetooth, a USB port for portable media, steering wheel mounted audio controls, leather steering wheel and shift knob, remote start, and a cargo net. All the fancy tech stuff is cleverly hidden to hold onto that retro feel, and it works. The 6-speaker audio system is just OK; opt for the stereo upgrade if you really like your music.
I have to admit, I love this car. In fact, I’d take the Camaro over a Corvette any day; even the V6 Camaro. It’s gorgeous styling never gets old, and it’s a blast to drive. The seating position is a great throw-back to muscle cars, and lets you move the driver’s seat so low that even I, your 6’4″ driver had to stretch to see over the steering wheel. Awesome.
That’s not to say it’s without its faults, though. A few plastic parts feel too wobbly and cheap, including the black plastic engine cover, which does little to show off the engine – one of the first things car enthusiasts want to look at. Although the trunk is a decent size, the trunk opening is too small; something that could have easily been fixed by a little bit of engineering. The only other thing I didn’t like about the Camaro is that we had to give it back at the end of the week.
Despite the minor quirks, the 2010 Chevy Camaro is an incredibly good car. Not only that, but it’s a bargain; you can get into a V6 Camaro for around $23,000, reasonably well-equipped, and the V8 for only $31,000, knocking most competitors on their asses. The 2009 Dodge Challenger can only compete if it’s equipped with the V8, but it’s still slower, less refined, and less equipped than the Camaro, and the Ford Mustang’s engines are grossly underpowered. In fact, the Mustang’s V8 is only 11 hp more than the Camaro’s V6 engine. The only other cars in the same class that compete are the excellent 330 hp Nissan 370Z and the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, both only coming with a V6 (albeit very good ones.)