During the GM media event last week for the State Fair of Texas, we were treated to a special surprise. After announcing and showing off the new GMC Terrain and the new Buick LaCrosse, we got a chance to check out the a car I have been wanting to drive for a while now. As you know, this is a car enthusiast site, and although the Terrain and LaCrosse are nice vehicles and there were things we liked and disliked about these vehicles, we wanted to jump into something a little more sporty. Well, the Camaro then.
We have to start with the looks of the new Camaro because it has been debated both ways, love it or hate it. In all honesty, I’ll admit that I have always been more of a Mustang fan over the Camaro but when I first saw this car it really took my breath away. This is what a muscle car should look like! The proportions are dead on, not too long not too short. The trunk is not massive and the front overhang is short and clean. The rear fenders flair out to cover the grippy rear tires completing the muscular stance. It is just every detail about the looks of this car seems to be dead on.
What about the interior? Well this is an American muscle car so people would forgive GM for putting a cheap and dull interior into the car so long as the power was good. Fortunately for us, and all automotive enthusiasts, GM did not skimp on the interior. The retro layout of the gauge cluster, the center console and the deep-dish steering wheel all fit into the muscular and passionate feel of the car. The seats and steering wheel were wrapped in comfortable thick two-tone leather with exposed stitching. Nothing about the interior, besides being styled in a retro theme, reminded me of Camaros of the past, and that’s a good thing!
So we have the excellent exterior styling and we have a comfortable and stylish interior, but what about the muscle? This is not just a car styled to look like a muscle car; it truly has the bite to back up the bark. The lower end RS that we drove at first has a 304 horsepower V6 using a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifts pushing its power to the rear wheels. Although the car weighs just over 3700 lb. the direct injected 4-cam 3.6 liter engine never gives up on you. It will propel this muscle car from 0-60 in just 5.9 seconds and to a top speed of 155 mph. But hop in the SS and soon you will see how slow that really is. The SS Camaro is powered by the LS3 6.2 liter Corvette engine. The 426 horsepower V8 matted to a 6 speed manual transmission gets this car up to 60 mph in only 4.6 seconds. Step on the gas pedal and you will be thrown back into your seat and suddenly it all makes sense. The tires screech but grip fast and your off, the short and quick shifts feel seamless with the perfect weighted clutch and when you need to slow down the brakes are there like a brick wall. The four-piston Brembo brakes are responsive to say the least. They will bring this heavy muscle car to a stop like no other stock muscle car I’ve ever driven. After you hit the brakes and turn the wheel, the bolstered seats start to make sense. They don’t just look cool; they keep you in the seat when powering around the corners. I would have to say, even more than the power and the brakes, the handling shocked me the most. I have driven many Camaros in my life and wouldn’t trust any of them around a corner, but this car. Turn in, mash the gas, and the car just knows to grip and go.
Let’s just say that I was pleasantly impressed with the new Camaro. I almost think calling it a Camaro could hurt the fact that it’s such a sporty grand touring car. It took me so long to write this review because I could never come to grips with the fact or put into words that a Camaro built by Chevy was such a good car. I think they do have two problems though. The first problem I would say is the price. The V6 model, although being very good, pushes the high 20k range and the SS pushes the high 30’s. This brings me to the Camaros second problem, this problem has been around as long as the Camaro pulled off the factory lines in 1969. That would be the Mustang. As much as I love the looks and admire the effort they put into the interior and the power it gets, I would still take a Mustang for the price.