This morning, we woke up to a normal day. It was a bit cold, being that it’s September in Northern Ohio, but all in all a good day in the year 2010. At least, we thought it was 2010 because when we looked outside it seemed to be 1969. In the driveway was a Dodge Challenger SRT-8 , a Chevrolet Camaro , and the Ford Mustang GT. Three cars that might have our current year before their names, but look like their older generations.
The new Chevrolet Camaro has just about the same overall look of the older versions from the late 1960s. Except, of course, in a few interesting areas. The tires are much larger, the back end looks like it’s had too much cake, and the beltline is hiked up like a nerd’s trouser line. Not to mention the squished roof that makes the car appear fatter than it actually is.
Our SS version had a smattering of SS badges, massive 20-inch wheels, a hood scoop, and a rear spoiler. The front slot – located on the front fascia – doesn’t actually do anything, as it’s just for show. All these vulgar additions help the car stand out like a man wearing an orange suit in a Ritz-Carlton hotel ballroom.
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Sitting inside the Camaro is like a being in a coffin. The high shoulders and thick windshield pillars with a roof that curls over the whole car makes it a tad claustrophobic. The interior layout is fairly good looking, but it’s more form over function. Some of buttons are very hard to reach and it will take a few days to figure out how everything works.
The textures are fairly decent, but still not on par with the Ford. There are tastefully painted panels and chrome handles that add a bit of flavor, but overall the look just doesn’t do anything for us. The gauges that are mounted on the counsel are a bit silly and the square tachometer and speedometer are functional, but they sure aren’t visually pleasing.
Even more irritating than the over designed dashboard are the two front bucket seats. The seats lack lateral and lumber support and the tilt and telescoping steering wheel uses a very crude lever. Tall folks will feel the headliner rub against their heads and it can be difficult at times to see the instrument panel over the wheel.
The rear seats just might be worse, if you can manage to get back there. The front buckets don’t enjoy sliding forward and you’re going to need some strength to get them to move. The headroom is minimal and the view out is restricted to the tiny side portholes. Yet, this isn’t a machine for hauling around people, it’s about speed.
The cargo room should be enough for a few trips to the shops, but be careful opening the lid in parking lots, as it opens up surprisingly high. There is a backseat opening that can stretch out the cargo room, but we’ve seen more room on other machines.
If GM and OnStar were people, they would be super lovers. In fact, GM loves the system so much that they didn’t feel the need to offer a navigation system. The top of the line Camaro offers one-year Directions and Connection plan and both offer turn-by-turn navigation, but we really would have liked a navigation system as an option.
All models come with CD, MP3 sound system with XM Satellite radio and an auxiliary jack. The SS adds Bluetooth, a USB port and a 245-watt amplifier. On top of that, buyers will get nine speakers to listen to their jams, if they can figure out how to work it.
All of the previous stuff mentioned matter as much as a large tummy on a billionaire. It might not look very good, but with all that money, who the hell cares. No matter how terrible the Camaro’s interior is and how bad the seats are, what really matters is the V8 that lives under the bulging hood. Finally, some good news for the machine, as the only complaints we have about the powertrain is a lazy electronic throttle.
The 6.2-liter V8 under the hood puts out around 426 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. That power is truly outstanding and drivers should be able to hit 60 miles per hour in just 4.6 seconds
Our SS model came with the Tremac manual transmission that requires drivers to have a very strong arm in order to change from one year to the next. First and second gears are fun to use around town and the high sixth gear is perfect for highway driving. To keep the car in line, the Camaro comes standard with a limited-slip differential and stability control.
Going around corners, despite what GM likes to think, isn’t the Camaro’s strong suit. The Australians developed the chassis and they did a fairly decent job. Up front, the car uses a strut-type front suspension and a rubber-isolated multi-link rear suspension. The car has plenty of grip like the Mustang GT, but once that grip runs out, you will surely crash.
Turn ins are sharp and drifting is fairly simple. Feedback through the road is just average, but the steering is fairly responsive. Compared to the GT, the Chevrolet just isn’t a nimble, but when put up against the Dodge Challenger, it’s a perfect handling machine.
The Brembo 4-piston rigidly mounted brake calipers provide decent feedback and they don’t fade after many uses. The wonderful brakes and lubricant coolers help keep the transmission and the motor cool, allowing the car to run around the track lap after lap.
The Camaro SS isn’t a car for everybody. We don’t really like the way it looks on the inside and the outside, but some might absolutely love it. There are plenty of vehicles to choose from, including the SRT 8 Challenger and the Mustang GT, so it’s basically whichever model tickles your fancy. Chevrolet lovers will jump on this car like a cop on a donut, but we don’t think it will convince Ford and Chrysler fans to make the switch.
Disclaimer: Test car provided by VanDevere Chevrolet.