2010 Chevy Camaro First Test Drive - Guess Who's Back
We Drove The 2010 Camaro And Couldn't Wait To Tell The Tale
From the August, 2009 issue of Chevy High Performance
By Henry De Los Santos
Photography by Henry De Los Santos
I can still remember my flight home from the '06 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Back then GM invited several members of the media, including 250 enthusiasts from Camaro clubs and websites across the country, to witness the unveiling of the Camaro Concept. To say the General made an impression would be an understatement. The media went nuts over it, and the Internet was on fire with all the Camaro fanatics asking one thing: How long will we have to wait to get into the new fifth-gen?
More recently we were invited to take part in the '10 Camaro media drive in San Diego, California. This was an excellent opportunity to get into the first production models, not only to look with our eyes but with our hands, logging serious miles through a number of road conditions. While this was technically a one-day affair, we were invited to scope out the Camaros a day early, given the entire afternoon to check out the rides of our choice and drive them at our discretion.
With my bags dropped off and camera in hand, I raced to grab a set of keys. I loved that there were 15 Camaros ready to be driven. However, only five were V-8s. The remaining 10 were V-6 variants. Since all the V-8s were already checked out, with a waiting line, I headed straight for the fully loaded Victory Red V-6 LT with the manual six-speed and the optional RS package. This baby was a looker, and I can unequivocally say that the RS upgrade is a must, with its high-intensity discharge headlamps, a spoiler, and larger, 20-inch wheels.
As awesome as it was to see...
As awesome as it was to see this many Camaros getting ready to be driven, what you don't see is the other half directly behind me, including the SS models that were already checked out and getting ready to hit the road.
Before you take any digs at the V-6, let me tell you I was far from disappointed, especially with its 304hp/370-lb-ft mill. We're talking about 304 horses, more than enough steam to challenge most out-of-the-box stockers, including the 210hp Mustang V-6 and the 300hp V-8--there's something to think about!
Knowing I had two hours to get familiar with the Camaro, I started by heading 10 miles north to my old college, University of California San Diego. If anything was going to be an indicator of how today's youth would take to it, this would be the place to show it off. Whether people were enamored simply of its bright red hue or they knew what was really in front of them is hard to say, but from the second I got in the car, it was hard not to find someone staring at any given moment. On campus it was no different, with heads turning to focus on the Camaro. After making my way through the main entrance, I headed straight over to a few select areas that would lend well to photography. Not more than five minutes into the session, a crowd started to form, and it was only a matter of time before campus security showed up, wondering what was going on. Yep, it was time to move on and head back to the beach area, but not before making a quick stop by the marina for a few more images.
The following morning, everyone met up for the presentation, which featured several key members from the development team. From there, we partnered up with other folks from the media; in my case, I hung out with former Hot Rod Feature Editor Jeff Koch. While Koch was out making sure we got the keys to a V-8, I went into the garage where Sangyup Lee, one of the lead designers, discussed the Camaro's skin.
With the formal introductions handled, we packed up our gear and jumped into the Red Jewel Tintcoat SS that Koch had secured for us. Knowing we had a 140-plus-mile route planned out in three separate legs, I sat shotgun, playing navigator with the supplied maps, and had ample time to check out the interior in greater detail and enjoy the ride. During the second leg, we jumped into a Rally Yellow V-6, but it was the third leg that got me pumped up.
For the initial drive, this...
For the initial drive, this V-6 LT featured the optional RS package, which included the HID lights with surrounding LED halo rings, 20-inch wheels, body-color roof ditch molding, and a rear spoiler. If you're looking to upgrade to the RS option, expect to shell out an additional $1,750.
Captain's Quarters Ergonomically...
Ergonomically speaking, everything is well within reach and quite comfortable. You can clearly see the gauges between the spokes of the steering wheel. I should note that the steering wheel felt a bit bulky at first, but that feeling went away quickly. The dash and the top of the door panels are also a little taller than what you may be used to; but again, I easily acclimated to them by the end of the drive. As for the rear seating, it's similar to its older sibling. If you're a tall passenger, then you better call out shotgun first. Initially, my only concern was the blind spots from the rear quarter-panels. Even so, the side mirrors are great, and if you use them like you're supposed to, you can easily see everything around you. The only thing I'd like to see is the addition of a rear-mounted camera, as my vision felt a bit limited when putting it in reverse.
After leaving the university,...
After leaving the university, I took a quick drive to Mission Bay, anticipating a few shots from the launch ramp. Not more than a couple of minutes into it, I was approached by two guys with name tags. I thought I was going to be told to leave, but instead they were infatuated with the Camaro, asking questions and taking turns sitting in it while the other got a picture.
Another option I liked was...
Another option I liked was the Convenience & Connectivity Package. At $465, this package gives you a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a Bluetooth wireless system, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a cargo net in the truck, and a remote vehicle starter (in the 2LT trim).
The wheel options available...
The wheel options available range from the standard 18-inch Bavarian Silver Aluminum on the 1LT to a set of 19s for $720. As noted earlier, the RS package on the non-SS models comes with the standard 20-inch SS wheels, or you can opt for a 21-inch wheel upgrade for a several bucks more.
Late into the night, we were...
Late into the night, we were still walking around, but rather than hitting up the local digs we ended up geeking out with our cameras in the hotel garage. It felt pretty surreal to be surrounded by so many Camaros without anyone else around.
All Camaros are equipped with...
All Camaros are equipped with XM radio capability and a three-month trial period from the date of purchase. For those of you who already have MP3 players, such as an iPod, the 2LT and 2SS come standard with a USB port. The port is optional on 2LT models.
By this point, I was seriously beginning to wonder if I was going to get my chance at flogging a V-8. Quite honestly, it couldn't have worked out better. After a day and a half, I was pretty well versed with the V-6s, so getting to drive the V-8 last was really the right way to end this experience. For this final leg, I found myself behind the wheel of a Silver Metallic SS with the six-speed. Unlike the earlier sections, this portion of the cruise had several stretches of desolate road, including very tight corners that seemed never-ending.
The instant I hit the go pedal, I could feel the difference. Everything about the car felt better over the V-6. Maybe it was more mental, but I certainly liked how the ride felt. It was definitely firmer over its V-6 counterpart, but not so harsh that it would cause any discomfort or wear you out during those long driving excursions. Another area that felt a bit more refined was during clutch engagement and the overall feel of the TR6060 six-speed. The shifts just felt a lot more solid, and it slipped right into gear with little argument. And of course, there's no mistaking the healthy LS3 tone; personally, I could go for a little more noise, but I certainly understand that not everyone wants to wake up their neighbors at the crack of dawn. Still, it'll be easy enough to modify should anyone else want to.
I will say that the 304hp V-6 felt great and pulled well from 4,000 rpm and all the way to 7,000, but I felt much more at home with the 426hp V-8. Acceleration is healthy. As for the people I've read complaining about its weight, I strongly suggest they get in the seat and take one out for a spin. Having a curb weight of 3,849 for the manual is up there, but you also have 426 hp to help you forget about that. Then again, you have to keep it in perspective and realize that many of our favorite muscle cars were never lightweights. Take the Chevelle and second-gen Camaros, for example. Unless you're building a dedicated race car, nobody wants a stripped-down rattle can. The fifth-gen is comfortable and unbelievably quiet, keeping road noise to a minimum when you have the windows up.
Think of this as the modern-day...
Think of this as the modern-day Hugger Orange. Dubbed Inferno Orange Metallic, it was by far one of the more standout hues.
You see where I'm going with this? That's right: This is a performance driver. Of course, with the acceleration, you'll need improved braking. While some say it is standard fare for the SS to come equipped with antilock four-piston Brembo discs on all four corners, I say they're anything but standard fare. Mash the brake pedal and you're coming to a halt, very quicklike.
Considering the roads we were taking, we were able to take full advantage of the entire package. The combination of handling, braking, and acceleration made for a very enjoyable but spirited ride, which never felt out of control. Through some of the tighter sections, I simply kept it in Second gear, braked before the turn, and was able to roll into the throttle and smoothly accelerate out without ever missing a beat.
Sadly, the time came when I had to relinquish the keys to the folks from GM. Obviously, everyone who had the opportunity to take this media drive will have varying opinions, but I am sold on the new Camaro. The production model looks remarkably close to the concept vehicle that was initially presented, and it is packaged incredibly well and competitively priced. If you're in the market for a fifth-gen, you won't be disappointed. You can take pride knowing that you're purchasing a piece of automotive history in the making.
SS models have a distinguishing...
SS models have a distinguishing look that separates them from the LS and LT version, namely SS-specific front and rear fasciae, a rear spoiler, and the IP cluster inside.
As small as the trunk lid...
As small as the trunk lid seemed, there was surprising room for storage, allowing us to haul all our camera gear and tripods with ease.
Another must-have is the Four-Pack...
Another must-have is the Four-Pack gauges mounted on the center consol. However, this is only available as a standard piece in the 2LT and 2SS models.
My first glimpse under the...
My first glimpse under the hood reminded me of the CTS-V engine bay. Currently, a body-colored painted engine cover is a $285 option, but only for those wearing Red Jewel Tintcoat, Black, Victory Red, Rally Yellow, or Inferno Orange Metallic hues.
As we hit the road through...
As we hit the road through downtown San Diego, there was a completely different vibe seeing the '10s on the road as opposed to dormant on trade show floors.
Power sunroofs are also available...
Power sunroofs are also available as a $900 option on all models except the base LS. You'll also notice the roof has a different contour in order to accommodate them.
The Verdict We have a winner!...
We have a winner! Out of the box, the '10 Camaro is a well-balanced package with its 426hp LS3, high-performance sneakers, and 4.5-link independent rear suspension. Obviously, there's a ton of options to choose from. To get a better understanding of what's available with what package, log on to chevrolet.com/allnewcamaro. GM did a outstanding job of building a well-organized and interactive site, which allows you to custom-build the new Camaro to your individual specs.
All SS versions come standard...
All SS versions come standard with 20-inch Sterling Silver-pained wheels with a set of high-performance Pirelli PZero rubber with 14 inch rotors and four-piston Brembo binders.
If you prefer not to row gears,...
If you prefer not to row gears, then you can also opt for the six-speed automatic with the TAPshift setup for an additional $995. If you select this option in the SS, you should know that it's only available with L99 powerplant with Active Fuel Management.
|BY THE NUMBERS |
| ||LS ||LT ||SS |
|Starting MSRP ||$22,995 ||$24,630 ||$30,995 |
|Engine ||3.6L direct injection V-6 ||3.6L direct injection V-6 ||6.2L V-8 (LS3, L99) |
|Transmission ||Hydra-Matic 6L50 ||Hydra-Matic 6L50 ||Hydra-Matic 6L80 |
| ||6-speed auto w/ TAPshift ||6-speed auto w/ TAPshift ||6-speed auto w/TAPshift |
| ||Aisin Warner AY6 6-speed manual ||Aisin Warner AY6 6-speed manual ||TR6060 6-speed manual |
|Horsepower ||304 @ 6,400 ||304 @ 6,400 ||426 @ 5,900 (LS3); 400 @ 5,900 (L99) |
|Torque (lb-ft) ||273 @ 5,200 ||273 @ 5,200 ||420 @ 4,600 (LS3); 410 @ 4,300 (L99) |
|Fuel Economy (mpg) ||18/29 automatic; 17/29 manual ||18/29 automatic; 17/29 manual ||16/25 automatic; 16/24 manual |
|Curb Weight (lb) ||3,719 automatic; 3,722 manual ||3,719 automatic; 3,722 manual ||3,902 automatic; 3,849 manual |
|Length (in) ||190.4 ||190.4 ||190.4 |
|Width (in) ||75.5 ||75.5 ||75.5 |
|Height (in) ||54.2 ||54.2 ||54.2 |
|Wheelbase (in) ||112.3 ||112.3 ||112.3 |
|Turning Circle (ft) ||37.7 ||37.7 ||37.7 |
|0-60 MPH (sec) ||6.1 ||6.1 ||4.7 |
|60-0 MPH (ft) ||132 (18-in tire); 128 (19-in tire) ||132 (18-in tire); 128 (19-in tire) ||123 (20-in tire) |
|Quarter-Mile (sec) ||14.5 @ 96 mph (manual) |
14.5 @ 97 mph (automatic)
|14.5 @ 96 mph (manual) |
14.5 @ 97 mph (automatic)
|12.9 @ 111 mph (manual) |
13.2 @ 105 mph (automatic)