2012 Chevrolet Camaro

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2010 Chevrolet Camaro: Review

This 2010 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2015.
By Tom Wilson of MSN Autos
Rating: 9.0

Bottom Line:

Style throttles practicality in the new, eagerly awaited Camaro. That’s not to ignore exceptional performance, excellent fuel economy and great value.
Pros:
  • Thrilling base V6 and optional V8 engines
  • Solid chassis, great handling
  • Rock-star crowd appeal
Cons:
  • Cartoon styling gets in the way
  • Built-to-a-price detailing
  • Feels big, is heavy

There isn't much good news coming from General Motors these days. So the introduction of the all-new 2010 Chevy Camaro is something for the embattled company to celebrate.

More importantly, it's also a happening that should give muscle-car enthusiasts — who have been eagerly waiting the new Camaro's arrival for nearly three years and who were teased mercilessly by its appearance on the silver screen in the 2007 movie "Transformers" — a reason to rejoice. Why, you ask? Because Chevy did it right.

The 2010 Camaro is a thrill ride. The reborn sportster's power, grippy handling and over-the-top street presence will excite buffs and neophytes alike. And even the most hard-core enthusiast will be impressed by the value-to-performance ratio this car brings to the street.

Model Lineup
To attract younger, style-conscious buyers, Chevrolet made the Camaro flashy above all. An aggressive front face, radically chopped top, wide fenders and tall side sheet metal make it look like a cage fighter ready to do battle. Inside, the occupants sit low, surrounded by early-Camaro styling cues. The driver has an outward view to which the crew of an Abrams tank can relate.

All of the basics are shared throughout the Camaro lineup, starting with the two V6s: the base LS and the upgraded LT. All V8 Camaros are SS versions. Both the LT and SS can add the Rally Sport appearance package to include HID headlamps with glowing halo rings, a rear spoiler on LT cars, unique taillights and darkened silver 20-inch wheels.

Interior trim is cloth with leather optional. Special Inferno Orange leather seat inserts are also available. So far the Camaro is available only as a coupe, but a convertible should be forthcoming.

Under the Hood
One of the new Camaro's greatest strengths is its exceptional pair of engines. Both the V6 and V8 are all-aluminum, thoroughly modern barn burners. The 60-degree V6 breaks the magic 300 barrier, developing 304 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque at 5200 rpm. It's a techno tour de force with double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, continuously variable valve timing, individual cylinder knock sensors and direct cylinder fuel injection. Compression is lofty for regular fuel at 11.3:1.

Knockout power comes from two versions of Chevy's 6.2-liter push-rod V8. Mated to the 6-speed manual transmission, it boasts a thumping 426 horses at 5900 rpm and 400 lb-ft of torque at 4600 rpm; the automatic version trades a little horsepower for torque, producing 400 ponies and 410 lb-ft at nearly equivalent rpm levels.

Thanks to 6-speed transmissions, inherent efficiencies and a bit of high-tech — direct fuel injection for the V6 and cylinder deactivation with the V8 — these Chevys don't come with a gas-guzzler tax. In fact, they return great fuel economy for their class. The V6 automatic is EPA-rated at 18 mpg city/29 mpg highway; the V8 posts 16/25 numbers. Manual transmission versions fall short by 1 mpg each.

Wanting sophisticated handling and a good ride, Chevy's worldwide team (the Camaro was engineered mainly in Australia, managed by Detroit and is built in Canada off of the Holden Commodore/Pontiac G8 rear drive platform) focused on a rigid chassis and a newly designed independent rear suspension. These add weight but lay the foundation for a quiet cabin and poised cornering.

Inner Space
Chevrolet didn't back off the aggressive styling when it came to the interior. An exuberant collection of organic curves and hard-edged highlights, the cabin is built around time-honored Camaro cues such as rectangular instrument hoods and an optional gauge pod on the center console. All versions employ power windows and door locks, and the rear seat folds for pass-through cargo. A sunroof is available.

Black, gray and beige are the available colors for both the standard cloth and optional leather upholstery, with those colors carrying through a unique swath of fabric running from the door panels across the dash. Numerous details set off the snazzier SS interior, including SS logos stitched in the upholstery and molded into the steering-wheel spokes.

Electronics are central to the Camaro's new Generation Y customers, so a Connectivity package is available to support iPods and other MP3 devices. It also has USB connectivity for portable flash drives and Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free cell phone operation. Curiously, although OnStar is available there is no navigation system. Standard sound is a single CD/radio with six speakers. A top-of-the-line 245-watt Boston Acoustics 9-speaker system is also available as an option on upgraded LT and SS iterations. All Camaros are equipped with XM Radio.

Comfort is also a priority. The steering column tilts and telescopes, and the seat travel is generous at well over 8 inches. Still, the overt styling demands accommodation from the occupants, especially the window sills, which are too tall to hang an elbow on during a Friday night cruise. Passengers may also search in vain for a grab handle, and we found the seats stylishly but curiously padded in spots. Overall, the presentation ranges from nice double-stitched leather to a few cost-cutting touches in the sun visors and other secondary items.

We were pleased to find the narrow windshield and low side glass less of a hindrance than they might be, but they won't help wherever traffic lights are hung at mid-intersection, requiring a neck-contorting duck to see past the low roof and feature-laden rearview mirror. Rear vision is poor at best through the tiny quarter windows, and the rear seat extremely tight for anyone past junior high. That said, the rear seat is slightly elevated, making it a better car-seat perch; seemingly the best use for the two rear buckets.

Behind the scenes, the Camaro passenger compartment is protected by a cage of high-strength steel and six airbags.

On the Road
Sampling a variety of V6 and V8 Camaros showed the car's wide range. Obviously, core fans will go straight for the V8, and they'll be pleased. Power is tremendous with either transmission, backed by waves of torque for relaxed cruising. Running as hard as the meanest big-block muscle cars of yore, the Camaro SS is and feels faster than the Dodge Challenger or Ford Mustang, its main competition. Choosing between the quick-reacting paddle-shifting automatic and manual transmissions is purely personal.

In V6 mode, the LS and LT are something new. They zip like a V8 when kept revving, but require downshifting for a burst of power because peak torque is so high. But the silky engine sings sweetly, comparing favorably to the industrial V8 soundtrack. A more audible V8 rumble would help the SS.

Handling is a grippy highlight, and the independent rear suspension helps smooth out rough pavement. We thought the spring and shock tuning surprisingly firm, and were impressed how well the softly sprung LS managed the handling/ride compromise. In fact, the base suspension V6 combination seemed the best daily-driver choice for both practicality and performance.

All told, the superb chassis and engines expertly mask a longish wheelbase, a couple hundred extra pounds of weight and sometimes difficult sightlines for the driver. Extremely capable, the Camaro is a touch muscular to be labeled a sports car by purists.

Right for You?
It's important to stress what a performance bargain the 2010 Camaro appears to be (option pricing has not been released). The base LS V6 starts at $22,995 and the SS at $30,995 (including a $750 destination charge). Considering the hardware sophistication and ample performance, the Camaro competes strongly on price, especially in V6 form. Perhaps more realistically, it appeals primarily because of its style and newness. It's brash and has the performance to match. If the swagger fits, wear it, baby!

Longtime Road & Track contributor Tom Wilson's credits include local racing championships, three technicalengine books and hundreds of freelance articles.

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BB03 - 9/1/2014 6:53:17 AM