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First Drive: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro


2010 Chevrolet Camaro

2010 Chevrolet Camaro

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Chevrolet first showed its Chevrolet Camaro concept in January 2006, and this reporter was one of a few to drive the show car in April 2006. Since then, thousands of stories, articles and photos have appeared, working the hype into a frenzy and making Chevy's new pony car one of the most-exposed new cars ever.

Was it worth the wait? You bet. After a full day of driving the 2010 Chevy Camaro on some of the best and worst roads in Michigan, this car was everything TheCarConnection.com had hoped for and then some.

The highlights are this: the Camaro SS is the Camaro on everybody's mind, as a performance icon with tire-shredding power. The examples we drove are much better than any production Camaro that's ever turned a wheel. Beyond feeling rock-solid in terms of build quality, the new chassis is buttoned up. While Ford has elevated the 2010 Mustang's ride using a live rear axle, the Camaro's independent rear suspension simply drives better, smoother, and with less twitchiness.

The above should not lead you to believe that the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS has been neutered. Powering through corners, the suspension responds immediately with little roll; there is none of the waiting-for-things-to-happen (like springs and dampers compressing) before the car responds. It's instant. Steering is communicative and responsive, plus cornering attitude can be modulated with the throttle. In nearly all circumstances, we'd describe the Camaro's handling attitude as completely neutral, a characteristic that gives the car an exceptionally agile feel.

The Camaro's power doesn't hurt the car's responsiveness either. The base 2010 Chevrolet Camaro LS and LT editions use the 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 from the Cadillac CTS. It's a fine motor producing a V-8-like 304 horsepower with EPA highway fuel economy numbers that rival some four-cylinder cars; 29 mpg. City mileage for the V-6 six-speed manual is 17 mpg, and 18 mpg for the six-speed automatic.

2010 Chevrolet Camaro

2010 Chevrolet Camaro

Enlarge Photo

When I drove a 2009 Cadillac CTS with the V-6/six-speed manual transmission last month, I didn't like the Caddy's shift linkage at all. The 2010 Camaro's linkage is different, and feels direct and precise.

Moving up from the V-6, the V-8 powered Camaro SS is offered with two distinct engines, depending on the driver's transmission choice. Both are 6.2-liter V-8s sourced from the Corvette. If you choose the six-speed automatic, you get the L99, an engine that makes use of variable valve timing and active fuel management (that enables the engine to run in V-8 and V-4 modes). Horsepower and torque are 400/410. If you row your own gears, the six-speed Tremec TR6060 is fronted by the more powerful and higher-revving LS3 6.2-liter V-8, with 426 horsepower and 420 lb-ft torque. Mileage is a respectable 16 mpg city and 24 or 25 highway with the SS engines.

While all of the above numbers are important and tell part of the new Camaro's story, they can't fully describe the differing personalities available within the line. Camaros running the V-6 and automatic come close to being the ultimate everyman's sports car. It's stylish and drives with sporty verve that's accessible to all those people who think a clutch is a small purse.

V-6 Camaros equipped with the six-speed manual drive very differently, and should be considered by those shopping sports cars like the 2009 Nissan 370 Z or Hyundai Genesis Coupe. The V-6 revs willingly to its 6400 rpm horsepower peak, and the lightweight engine helps the car feel smaller than it is. Do not make the mistake of comparing a thusly equipped Camaro with a V-6 Dodge Challenger or Ford Mustang. Those are compromise cars. This Chevy is no compromise, and according to Chevy, will bump into its electronic speed limiter at 155 mph.


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Comments (12)
  1. "The new Camaro...."

    is still a car for adolescents. I understand it has "iconic styling" (?) and we're trying to recover our automotive glory days, but it's time to grow up.
     
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  2. "One Is Enough"

    Sounds like a pretty decent if not formidable car. Now please don't muck it up by making a Pontiac version, then a Saturn version, then a Buick version etc. GM is the worst when it comes to diluting product with too many spinoffs. Enclave, Outlook, Acadia, Traverse-why?
     
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  3. "16 mpg? "

    "Mileage is a respectable 16 mpg city..."
    C'mon, really? That mileage would "respectable" for a full size truck, not a car. The new Camaro looks great but the world has changed.
     
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  4. "16 mpg city is good"

    CJV - What kind of mileage to you believe that passenger cars are getting now days? A 2009 V6 Honda Accord gets 17mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
    This article states that the Camaro SS gets 16mpg city and 24-25mpg on the highway. Chevy is essentially getting the same fuel economy from their 426hp 6.2 liter V8 as Honda is getting with their V6...
     
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  5. "grow up to what Joe?"

    What do you want to grow up to Joe? If you are at an age where you want to recline in a Prius, good for you. Some of us still enjoy our cars, want to have fun with our cars. There is a fun factor that you obviously are oblivious to. And it has nothing to do with age, I am old enough to remember the first camaros. Congrats to GM for making a great looking, fun car that is thoroughly modern in handling and mileage, yet remembers the looks and the fun from the past.
     
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  6. "Avg Joe"

    Joe...get off the site....CJV.....get off the site. Stick to Consumer Reports. This is an enthusiast website and apparently you aren't enthusiasts. Anyone with a heartbeat should get excited about a new rear wheel drive V8 sports car. If this thing was called the Nissan 370Z I bet you would not have made that comment. And as far as a full size truck getting 16 mpg what world are you living in? My parents have a V8 Mountaineer and it gets 12-13...COMBINED and thats from the on board computer. . . We don't stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing
    -Ben Franklin
    And no I am not even a Camaro fan I actually love Mustangs but even I can admit a great car when I see one.
     
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  7. "real"

    nice n manly
     
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  8. "Mileage"

    A 2009 V6 Honda Accord gets 17mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
    The V6 ratings were announced last week and Camaro beats it with 18/29..... Which one would you rather drive?
    It's about time we give some credit to the new products of the D3 instead of just bashing.
     
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  9. "Mileage "

    According to honda.com an Accord V6 gets 19 City/ 25 Highway. Get your facts correct if you're gonna trash each other.
     
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  10. "Mileage (Revised)"

    Typo - Accord V6 = 19 City/29 Highway.
    Sorry
     
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  11. "canaro24"

    That's OK. Joe and CJV are probably the 4 dr sedan drivers, gripping the wheel with 2 hands, slow driving in the passing lane. I'll toot when I pass them on the right in my new 2010 2LT RS.
     
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  12. "To "Avg Joe" & Gary"

    Get off the site? So, if my opinion differs from yours, I shouldn't post it? As I said, it's for adolescents. Is the rear of your car still jacked up like in 1977? I hope you and Burt Reynolds enjoy your toupee and T-top together. As to not being an "enthusiast", I am, but not enthusiastic about this car. The SS is 3,913lbs, with you in it, well over two tons. Sports car? what?
    Finally, Camaro SS lapped Germany’s Nürburgring in 8 minutes 20 seconds. 2008 Cobalt SS — made its way around in just 8:22. So, what's the big deal?
    It comes down to the sheet metal, retro styling, which isn't enough of a reason for me to get excited about this hyped car.
     
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