2010 Chevy Camaro: Muscle Maniac!

Written by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Open up the gates of hell and let loose the fire from an American icon like it was 1967. After years of anticipation, GM unleashes what we all have been patiently awaiting: the 2010 Chevy Camaro. Teased first at the Detroit Auto Show some time ago and then again in Transformers the Movie, the production versions are currently being built and should arrive at dealerships mid April. Yet, is GM’s party crasher hitting the scene a little too late amid all of the financial turmoil it’s embattled in? Can the Camaro rescue the rest of the GM auto squad from 160-day supplies when the norm is 60-days? Will Bumblebee and the Autobots bailout GM from the cunning Deceptacons who are on a warpath for revenge? It’s dicey right now but at least Chevy has a Pro Bowler with an A-gamer on the team!

It’s no great secret that stellar designs sell cars. Stylistically, the Camaro is a head nodder. It influences easy as Chevy Communications Director Terry Rhadigan and I found out on an airport run after the day’s test drive. Camera phones went flashing as I pulled up in a Yellow Jacket Camaro V6 automatic. Even without the 20s, the rear spoiler and rumble from the V8 the Camaro caused commotion. So the key is for Chevy to infiltrate the market as heavy and as quickly as possible because once the honeymoon is over consumers will look for the next best thing. It happened with the Dodge Challenger. Chevy and GM don’t have time for professional embarrassment and need to move that muscle with impunity!

The Camaro launch is so important to Chevy that they brought out the big guns for the media drive in Detroit this week. Troy Clark, GM North American President, feels this is a great time to launch such a vehicle. Meaning, the game plan for GM is to jolt the market and bring back consumer confidence. For example, Chevy has heard from 800,000 individuals inquiring about the muscle car and already has 14,000 orders from dealers. To Chevy, this is not a retro vehicle. It’s the future. "The new Camaro is just that - new," said Ed Welburn, vice president of GM Global Design. "We acknowledge the nameplate's strong heritage in the design, but recognize that keeping this modern sports car relevant meant more."

Its brazen style is so strong that Chevy is not only going after its two nemeses Mustang and Challenger, but also Nissan Z, Scion TC, Honda Civic, Mazda RX-8, BMW 3-Series and more. They believe they will have a broad reach amongst younger, well educated consumers. The socially acceptable retro look is progressive and original details are maintained like the silhouette of course, side gills (non-functional) and the four-piece gauges down by the shifter. Yet, those seem more distracting as you have to lower your head to read their inputs. The interior comes with either cloth or leather and four seats. But passengers stuffed in the back will curse you for the rest of the ride. So basically it’s a 2+2. And get used to the exorbitant amount of plastics. Especially on the passenger side because that’s all that’s there. I would have liked to see some multi-layer materials, faux aluminum trim or something. Digital technologies include Bluetooth, iPod 30-pin connection, a Boston Acoustics sounds system, XM and OnStar’s Turn by Turn navigation. Turn by Turn displays your instructions on the radio screen and in the instrument cluster, and also has voice directions. The Boston Acoustics system was only mediocre with the windows up.

The brawn and beef of the muscle maniac is of course the Corvette derived 6.2 LS3 V8 with 426 horses and 420 pound-feet of torque, one more than the Challenger’s Hemi V8. Pair it with the Tremec 6-speed manual, disengage the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system and let those 20” staggered Pirelli spin like windmills (18s standard: 19s, 20s and 21s optional). The system, when activated, features a competitive mode for aggressive drivers and Launch Control to limit wheel spin on take offs. The second V8 is the L99 with 400 horses and 410 pound-feet of torque and comes exclusively with a 6-speed automatic. Yet, the steering-wheel mounted gear shifters are actuated via tabs placed under the wheel and not the inactive butterflies which mostly every manual auto uses. The Tremec manual is our preference! The L99 also features an Active Fuel Management System which cuts the eight cylinders to four when necessary helping the vehicle achieve 25 highway mpg. Both engines are found in the Camaro SS. The 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 is rated at 304 horsepower and is the engine of choice for LS and LT models. Its gets 29 highway mpg. All vehicles have true dual exhausts (bigger pipes on SS) and a new technologically preferred independent rear suspension versus a live axle. The SS gets bigger Brembo brakes which brings the SS to a stop in less than 117 feet. These brakes work as advertised. I would like to see the Brembo calipers painted red opposed to the less noticeable faded black!

The first Camaro sold for $350,000 at Barrett-Jackson, with the bulk of the money going to charity. You can get yours starting at $22,995 (SS $39K). Overall the vehicle is impressive for the price point and one of the most easily influencing vehicles on the road today.

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