2010 Chevrolet Camaro

    (53 Reviews)




    MSRP
    $22,680 - $33,945
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    2010 Chevrolet Camaro Expert Review:Autoblog


    2010 Chevy Camaro V6 RS – Click above for high-res image gallery

    The V6 Chevrolet Camaro. This is supposed to be a joke, right? The bent-six Camaro was Detroit's version of the triple-white Volkswagen Rabbit Cabriolet – only girly-girls needed apply. In the case of the Camaro, said chicks generally had big hair, cranked Slaughter on the ACDelco cassette player and actually used the ashtrays in the manner for which they were designed. If you were a guy driving a V6 (or, God forbid, an Iron Duke four) Chevy Camaro during the time Def Leppard boasted its original lineup, well, that was terribly unfortunate. The dudes with Z28s and IROCs doubtless sniggered as you rolled by with that exquisite rental-car exhaust note. This "Six Stigma" applied right through to the F-Body's demise in 2002. So let's be honest with one another: the six-cylinder car was for hairdressers. Which brings us to today, and the arrival of the new, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6. After driving the SS during the week of the New York Auto Show, we were prepared to be bitterly disappointed with the pre-production six-cylinder Camaro RS that The General sent us a few days later. So much for that. Preconceptions? Obliterated.



    Photos Copyright ©2009 Alex Núñez / Weblogs, Inc.



    To recap: the 2010 Chevy Camaro SS is a glorious case study in politically-incorrect motoring, dripping with attitude and a ferocious 426-horsepower V8 punch that feels like it's delivered with brass knuckles. Some folks will hate what it represents. Its drivers will just smile as billows of tire smoke pour out of the wheel wells and into the ozone layer. Conversely, the V6 offerings have always seemed like lame afterthoughts, but with the 2010 Camaro, GM has flipped the script. You see, you can make a pretty strong case that the V6 is really the better car.



    In fact, if you're going to drive the Camaro every day, the six-cylinder car is almost certainly the better pick. It looks fundamentally the same as its hairy-chested big brother, save for some subtle visual differences. There's no false hood scoop and the V6 lacks the SS's more pronounced chin. Out back, there's a different diffuser insert in the rear bumper. Otherwise, the six-cylinder Camaro is every bit the head-turner as the SS. The casual, untrained eye won't even tell the difference, especially if you doll up the V6 car with the RS package, as our tester came equipped. That adds red grille and trunked badges, 20-inch SS-lookalike wheels, HID lamps with halo-effect lights, and a rear decklid spoiler.



    Turning the ignition switch (the Camaro uses a flip-out, Volkswagen-style switchblade key fob), the car comes to life with all the aural mayhem of a Buick Enclave. There's no telltale "you really don't want to step to this" exhaust burble as with the SS. Instead, the 304-horsepower, 3.6-liter, direct-injected V6 idles quietly like an altar boy on his best behavior. Pull the six-speed automatic down into "drive" and get into the throttle, however, and you find that the six-equipped Camaro has a growl all its own. But it's fleeting; that's because in regular drive mode, the HydraMatic upshifts early and often as it attempts to maximize fuel efficiency. This is much appreciated on the highway, where we averaged a little over 26 mpg on a one-way, 60-mile commute into Manhattan. But when you're cruising locally, not so much. Obviously, if you don't check the slushbox option in the first place, this isn't a concern. If you do pony up for the auto, however, fret not: the solution is just one notch away on that console-mounted gear selector.



    Below "D" (which may as well stand for "dull"), you'll find "M" (which probably stands for something like "manual" but could just as easily be shorthand for "much more fun"), and that's the place to be. In one of life's great mysteries, choosing "M" displays an "S" on the multifunction display in WALL-E-esque* primary gauge cluster (*hat tip to SS post commenter Ed for that Pixar-perfect description). This begs the question as to why GM doesn't put "S" on the shifter, too. I'm sure there were several rounds of meetings during which people wearing ties argued this very point, and that somewhere in the bowels of the Renaissance Center there exists a Powerpoint slide that makes sense of it all. To someone. But we digress.



    Once you have the transmission in Sport mode (that's what we're calling it henceforth), you can begin to appreciate what the V6 Camaro brings to the party. For one, it holds onto gears as long as possible, and as the car builds up a head of steam, you notice that while it's about as noisy as a librarian at idle, under power, the exhaust belts out a nicely-tuned, Nissan VQ-ish honk. A V6 Camaro that actually sounds cool? Knock us down with a feather – GM really did take this seriously.



    And it's plenty quick, too. It accelerates nicely right out of the gate and GM says 0-60 takes 6.1 seconds, which seems ballpark-correct based on our seat-of-the-pants impression. Paired with the automatic tranny, the V6 may as well have "Burnouts for Dummies" molded on its plastic engine cover. Disable traction control, apply brake, depress accelerator, and the Camaro lays down a smokescreen that would make the guys at Q Branch jealous. Note, however, that same seat-of-the-pants impression we just mentioned also tells us that aspiring stoplight heroes may still want to think twice before goading Mustang GT drivers in the adjacent lane. The temptation to do so will surely be there, as the 3.6-liter DI V6 is no pretender, but an S197 Mustang still feels a shade quicker than the heavier, autobox-equipped V6 Camaro does. Then again, we're comparing a base-engined, six-cylinder Camaro to the V8 Mustang GT on equal ground. How times have changed – for the better.

    With 300+ horses underhood and a net loss of around 130 pounds compared to the manual-equipped SS model, it's no surprise that the Camaro V6 performs so admirably. In many respects, the V6 model feels remarkably similar to its V8 sibling from behind the wheel. Throw out the obvious power differential, which isn't a big deal from a practicality standpoint (not that 'Merican Muscle is practical, mind you), and you're left with most of the thrills for less coin. Road feel is basically the same, thanks to communicative, nicely-weighted steering that's not over-assisted. The suspension's dialed in more for sport than comfort –- again, like the SS –- and in this case, the car wore essentially the same wheel/tire package to boot, thanks to the RS option. On smooth pavement, it's very well-mannered, but when you traverse choppy surfaces, you'll look to see if there's a seismograph among the trip computer's features. The bottom line: whereas the Camaro SS feels like a fullback ready to blow through defensive linemen, the V6 car is more like the little halfback who's happier to turn the corner and let his athleticism win out. Both cars play the same game and share a lot of attitude, but their gameday approaches differ. As a result, the SS is a brute that lives to roar forward as if it's been jabbed with a cattle prod. It's basic, visceral power. The V6 is a little lighter on its feet and more refined in its quickness.



    Driving the Camaro in full-auto mode is engaging enough that it's easy to forget Chevy lets you shift the car manually, too. Shift paddles peek over the unique steering wheel's wide spokes: a minus-sign on the left and a plus-sign on the right. Only they're not really paddles, as we discovered on our first pull. Instead of paddles, you get shift buttons mounted behind the wheel. They work as advertised, and on manual downshifts, you even get a little throttle blip, but we still yearned for a "real" set of paddles to complete the package.

    Our tester was a 2LT/RS model, so it featured better interior appointments than the 1SS we drove the prior week. What was different? The comfy sport seats we enjoyed in the SS are now leather-covered. Additional controls for the phone and audio features adorned the front of the steering wheel thanks to the car's electronics package. Inside the center console, a USB port joins the standard AUX jack. The HVAC interface adds nicely-integrated seat heater buttons, and the Rally Pack-inspired supplemental gauge cluster was installed ahead of the shifter.



    We checked out the back seat of the Camaro this time around, and came to the rapid conclusion that if you're an adult, there may as well be a "KEEP OUT" sign hung back there (at 5' 9", I'll never be described as tall, but my noggin still rubbed up against the headliner in the rear). On the other hand, kids fit fine, even when seated in boosters. That back seat flips down, too, expanding trunk space when you need it. Of course, you need to get your gear into the trunk through its tiny opening first.

    Our opinion on the instrument panel layout remains basically unchanged: we like it for its simplicity. The two primary gauges are eminently readable and the radio/HVAC unit is intuitive to use. The supplemental console-mounted gauges, however, aren't really well-located. Sure, they look cool and we understand the heritage motif the General is after, but the need to look down and away from the road to get info is an ergonomic artifact that probably should have been left in the past.



    Despite its quirks, we're thoroughly impressed with the new Camaro. Even in non-SS trim, it's a muscular-looking stunner, especially in the Aqua Blue Metallic finish this tester sported. It's every bit the attention magnet the SS is, pulling mechanics out of their shops for a closer look, and causing other motorists to crane their necks in full-on tributes to Linda Blair.

    The best news of all is that the V6 Chevy Camaro is a good car with a terrific engine. Yes, it's less powerful than the SS, but for the first time in forever, that doesn't mean that it's the lesser car. With the 2010 Camaro, "I have the V6" is something you can say with your head held high.



    Photos Copyright ©2009 Alex Núñez / Weblogs, Inc.


    2010 Chevy Camaro – Click above for high-res image gallery

    Like Bumblebee on his interstellar voyage from Cybertron, the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro has taken years to arrive. If we take the Transformers analogy further (bear with us), the Camaro has landed after a few Decepticons – the Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang and Nissan 370Z – have already begun staking out territories. More than the others, the Camaro has to justify its place in the battle, while at the same time backing up three years of unrelenting hype.

    Follow the jump to find out if Chevrolet has brought the required weaponry to fight to the death for muscle car supremacy.



    All photos Copyright ©2009 Jonathon Ramsey / Weblogs, Inc.



    Like every other gearhead on planet Earth, we've been champing at the bit for the Camaro to arrive in production guise since its debut as a concept in 2006. Furthermore, when we made our way to San Diego for some long-awaited wheel time, we hoped beyond hope that its achingly attractive exterior would be backed by a chassis and drivetrain primed for global domination. We didn't need the Camaro to turn into a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot, but gut-rocking thrills were the minimum standard.



    Walk up to the Camaro, and it's a spitting image of the coupe we've seen in a variety of forms for the past 1,100 days. It's big, it hunkers and it's angry – or at least perturbed. Built on a modified Zeta platform that underpins the Pontiac G8, the changes to the Camaro versus its sedan sibling include tweaks to accept larger wheels, a shorter wheelbase thanks to the rear wheels moving farther forward by about three inches, the base of the A-pillar was pushed back and lowered, and the front strut tower height was dropped to allow for a lower hood line.



    Regarding its stance, the car has been designed to maintain the same tire-to-fender gap regardless of tire size: three fingers in front, four fingers in back. And while the massive face of the car appears to present various expanses of uninterrupted surface, take a closer look and you'll notice that a substantial amount of detail work has gone into its fascia.



    The "trap hood", which means it's fully enclosed by body panels, features a negative angle along its sides where it meets the fenders. The windshield washer nozzles are hidden under the rear edge of the hood for an uninterrupted line. The reverse mohawk in the roof is meant to tie the car to the twin-cockpit silhouette of the Corvette. The side mirrors conform to legal standards, yet remain true to those on the concept. There are subtle crisp lines that tie the roof and C-pillar into the rear, and the deck features a diagonal cut line that gives the trunk a unique profile when raised.



    Get in the car, and the Camaro's size asserts itself: it's dark inside. The high beltline, low roof and black interior don't let bundles of excess light to play within the cabin. It isn't dire, but it is somber. An optional sunroof can brighten things up, of course, but if you get the sunroof you lose the sculpted roof.

    The interior is utterly straightforward. Fabric inserts in the doors and on the dash save you from being overwhelmed by black plastic. The controls and the contrasting materials, in a palette of slight variations, are clustered in such a way that even as a passenger they pull your eyes from the black expanse on the non-drive side.



    While Ford's Mustang can be had with an astounding touch-screen, sterling navigation operation, dual-zone climate control, six-disc CD changer and a reversing camera, the Camaro gets no such fripperies. Climate control is an entirely manual affair, handled with two large knobs and four small buttons housed within. The best you can get from the factory is a single CD player, although Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and iPod controls come with the Connectivity Package. There's also talk of an audible parking sensor system available further down the road.



    Creature comforts aside, the cabin is striking. The deeply dished steering wheel is an attention-getter – and not only because it's huge. The seats, even in cloth, are compellingly sculpted. The optional analog gauges on the center tunnel break up the space, are a retro treat and are supplemented by an electronic display in the center of the dash when you want the kind of precision expected post-millennium.

    If you opt for the RS package, you will avail yourself of a remote starter on Camaros equipped with automatic transmissions, HID headlamps with halo rings, a rear spoiler on the LT V6, unique taillights, and 20-inch wheels in Midnight Silver. And when the ambient lighting package arrives, you'll get body-colored metal in place of the fabric interior inserts and LEDs.



    For now, though, you also get room. Lots of it. The Camaro is not a car that keeps all of its big on the outside. The front seats will be friends to anyone of almost any size, and in back there's a pleasant amount of space for heads and feet.

    The Camaro is big everywhere, but it isn't necessarily butch everywhere. GM design chief Tom Peters said he wanted the Camaro to look like the baddest, meanest dog on the block. Mission accomplished. But start the car up and go, and the Camaro acts like a show dog – all mannered and polite. It wasn't too long down the road that we wondered: "Where did that mean-ass dog go?"



    That's because the Camaro is... refined. Not Maybach refined, but it's certainly more subtle inside than you'd expect from The Return of the Muscle Car Icon. The size of the car swallows the perception of rapidity. Making the high-speed run-up on a series of highway on-ramps, we kept thinking "We're going quick smart, but it doesn't feel like we're going as fast as we know we're going..."



    We'll start with the 3.6-liter direct-injected V6. It puts out 304 hp and 273 lb-ft which, and in the car's heaviest guise – the LS manual – has to pull 3,780 pounds. According to the EPA, the long sixth gear on that car will get you 29 mpg on the highway. So, while it weighs 379 pounds more than a 2010 Ford Mustang V6 manual, it has 94 more hp and gets three mpg more on the highway.

    How does it go? Nicely. It's sufficiently fast to stay with the competition even if it doesn't necessarily feel it, and the car pulls so well that you'll never worry about having enough power to have fun on steep grades or pull off racy passing maneuvers. Interestingly, we found that you can also hear the V6 much more than the V8 inside the cabin, and even when it's being worked, it doesn't sound strained.



    The 6.2-liter V8s – either one of them – are where it's at. Except for the fact you can barely hear the engine note once ensconced inside. That's a shame, particularly when you've stood outside, bathed in the V8's roar and then find once yourself seated inside, only to learn that everyone gets to enjoy the noises but you.

    But the V8 also looks more like the Camaro we've come to expect, with a slightly different front fascia and 20-inch wheels that seal the aesthetic deal. Get it with the six-speed manual – all 3,849 pounds of it, 53 pounds lighter than the automatic – and you'll have the Camaro we want. This coupe will get down with the get down, and when you step on it you can begin to hear the long, low, muted rumbling exhale of the LS3's 426 hp and 420 lb-ft. (the automatic-equipped L99 engine gets 400 hp and 410 lb-ft.) Even though the V8 has Active Fuel Management that shuts down four cylinders, we doubt you'll ever think about it.



    The Camaro offers two different independent, multi-link front and rear suspensions: the FE2 on the V6 and the stiffer FE3 on the V8. The FE2 is capable and fun, but if the road is seriously twisty you could find its limits before you expect. Nevertheless, although we didn't put them through a day of Hell, the single piston calipers never let us down when carrying excess speed and exuberance into yet another corner.

    The FE3 suspension on the V8 is noticeably stiffer than the FE2, and you realize it immediately. The car bolts, brakes (with four-pot Brembos at each corner) and goes round the bends with assurance. Squat and roll are well managed, and it betrays no devotion to understeer. Still, it feels like there is a large helping of performance left on the table...



    Part of that might have to do with the steering. One trait the Camaro shares with the Mustang is steering that isn't as crisp as we'd like. That also contributes to the sensation of the car "driving big" – well, that and the enormous steering wheel – that left us constantly wanting a better idea of where the wheels were. If we had a chance to tighten up the steering, we'd really know where we were with the suspension.

    But don't get us wrong: the V6 and V8 Camaros were, during our two afternoons of driving, a heap of fun on straights and through turns. And even though we kept throwing the thing through corners to find out where its ragged edges were, we still wanted more and felt like the Camaro was up for it. We asked vehicle line executive in charge of the Camaro if we could get the car to handle like the Pontiac G8 GXP, he replied "You could get close." The truth is, we were at least $9,000 cheaper and not exactly far away.



    While the Camaro "drove big," as muscle cars are wont to do, at no time did it drive heavy. The lightest V6 Camaro still carries 100 pounds more than a 2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible and the Camaro SS manual is more than 350 pounds heavier than a Mustang GT. On a few occasions we felt it, but we never got the feeling it couldn't handle what we asked of it and there was always a sense that the Camaro had more potential lying in wait.

    But the Mustang comparison isn't exactly fair right now – we've had a lot more time to get to know the 'Stang than the Camaro. Based on looks... well, that's entirely subjective, so we'll let you decide a winner for yourself. Based on features, the Mustang owns the modern convenience battle inside, but the Camaro SS smacks back with performance features like optional Brembo brakes, which aren't even an option on the Mustang Track Pack. Based on handling, it's too soon for us to tell, but we know the Camaro is ready and able to do plenty of walking to back up its talk, and if you lined up a 2010 Mustang next to the Camaro at a start line, we'd head straight for the Chevy.



    Know for now, then, that the Camaro has handsomely paid the first dividend on its three-year promise. When one makes its way to the Autoblog Garage, we'll find out if it has all of the funds necessary for payment in full. And if we can get GM to let us try some performance parts on the car, the first things we'll ask for are straight headers and a growling exhaust. That way, at least we can hear Bumblebee as he takes the fight to the Decepticons.



    All photos Copyright ©2009 Jonathon Ramsey / Weblogs, Inc.

    Lodging for this event was paid for by the manufacturer.

    More horsepower and speed than muscle cars with 24 mpg.

    Introduction

    The rear-wheel-drive Chevrolet Camaro looks new and it is, but it was built from existing hardware, starting with the chassis architecture of the impressive Pontiac G8. Its chief engineer, a true-blue car guy, had three instructions, to make it: 1 drop dead gorgeous; 2. high performance; and 3. affordable. The Camaro succeeds on all three counts and is a breath of fresh air for GM. 

    We found the handling, ride and brakes exceptional. The styling is stupendous. Inside, the the instrumentation slips back into GM's too-hard-too-break habit of trying too hard to be clever with gauges. 

    The Camaro LS and LT models use a potent and sweet-sounding Cadillac V6 that makes 304 horsepower, with a six-speed manual transmission standard and six-speed automatic (with semi-manual shifting) optional. 

    The SS has the killer V8, a 6.2-liter Corvette engine making 400 horsepower with the optional six-speed manual automatic, or 425 horsepower with the standard six-speed manual. It uses the same suspension design with firmer shocks, springs and anti-roll bars, producing the same result under more demanding circumstances: great handling, great ride. 

    Lineup

    The Camaro LS ($22,245) comes with the 3.6-liter V6. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic with manual shifting is optional. Not a bare-bones model, the LS is fully power equipped, including cruise control, telescopic steering wheel, six-speaker AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 sound system, OnStar Safe & Sound plan for one year, limited slip differential, 18-inch steel wheels. (Prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices and do not include the $750 destination charge.)

    The Camaro LT ($23,880) upgrades with leather upholstery with six-way power reclining driver's seat; foglamps and integral front fascia; and 18-inch painted aluminum wheels; and OnStar Directions & Connections plan, offering turn-by-turn route instructions, both verbal and visual. 

    The Camaro SS ($30,245) features the 6.2-liter V8 with a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox. The SS has special exterior trim, a beefier suspension, 20-inch painted aluminum wheels, and four-piston Brembo disc brakes. 

    Option packages LT2 ($2,700) and SS2 ($3,185) include heated mirrors and seats, nine-speaker, 245-watt audio system, Bluetooth and USB port, leather shift knob and steering wheel with audio controls, remote starting, and console mounted gauges including oil temp and pressure, volts and transmission fluid temp; the LT2 package also includes 19-inch painted aluminum wheels. A sunroof ($900) is optional. Also available are 20-inch painted aluminum wheels and an RS appearance package. 

    Safety equipment on all Camaros includes electronic stability control with traction control, anti-lock brakes, frontal airbags, front side airbags, airbag curtains, and tire pressure monitor. 

    Walkaround

    When you look down on the new Camaro from a balcony, you see the lines of the 1963 fastback split-window Corvette. This is as planned by its young designer, Sang Yup Lee, who came to the U.S. from Korea as a boy and grew up in the California car culture. There are subtle twin-cockpit humps on the hood, that can be glimpsed at the top of the steeply raked 67-degree windshield, helping to produce a 0.37 Cd in the LS and LT, and 0.35 in the SS. 

    But the long hood with its v-shaped shark nose and black wide mesh grille (with simple headlights intended to be reminiscent of a '69 Camaro) is what catches your eye, makes you sigh, and triggers your longing. That too is by careful design. Starting with the architecture of the impressive Pontiac G8, the rear wheels were moved forward six inches, the fronts forward 3 inches, the windshield back 3 inches, and for a final touch lowering the front suspension. (Balance and handling? Check.)

    All models use an aluminum hood with a 2.5-inch power dome intended to look like cowl induction but actually having no function other than appearance. 

    The SS has an additional wide and thin black simulated intake on the nose, the easiest way to tell whether it's a V8 or V6. Otherwise, the V6 can pretty much pass, a bonus for $23k. Styling gills located just forward of the rear wheels add another nice touch. Even though the power dome, hood intake, cooling gills are not fuctional, they all work as styling enhancements, and don't come across as phony. 

    The new Camaro captures the look of the original '67, while not being seduced into retro clunkiness, virtually, and beautifully, there's no chrome. The 2010 Camaro is 5.7 inches longer and 3 inches wider than the '67 Camaro. The new one is 2.8 inches taller than the vintage model, that height coming largely from big tires. (All have the same outside diameter, whether with 18-, 19-, 20- or 21-inch wheels.)

    The shapely strong hips stand out almost as much as the long hood, an edgy element the designer is most proud of, because they took so much work. He said it took 113 tries to get the one-piece sheetmetal right, from the doors and pinched beltline rearward. It was worth it. 

    The rigid B-pillar is blacked-out, thus creating a clean outline for the side glass, blending into a handsome hardtop roofline. The short rear deck climbs upward and looks hot, showing off the car's great butt. The twin taillights look like blinking red sunglasses in each corner. The rear spoiler is a small lip that could be integrated more smoothly. Ten exterior colors are available, including a Corvette yellow that promises that the car will gather many thumbs-up, like our test model did. 

    Interior

    The interior materials of the new Camaro are good, but the design doesn't rise to the level of the exterior. The instrumention leaves something to be desired, with recessed speedo and tach stylized in square chrome housings, a nod to the classic Camaro interior. But that was 1967. However, back then they didn't have LED light pipe technology, an ambient light option that gives the cabin a warm glow. 

    The stitched leather wrap on the steering wheel is nice, although the three-spoke design doesn't make you say wow. The cloth bucket seats are comfortable, with decent bolstering, although we wonder if it's enough to keep an aggressive driver in his or her place during hard cornering. The front seat slides 8.5 inches and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes, so drivers of all sizes will fit; based on Camaro sales history, lots of women buyers are anticipated. The standard cloth upholstery is good, with excellent leather on available in black, gray, beige and two-tone Inferno Orange. 

    The climate control buttons on the center stack don't seem to be designed for ease of touch, but for looks. However we've touched worse. And those four gauges down on the center console forward of the shift lever are an affectation; they're optional, but most Camaros will probably have them. The center console and armrest is nice, solid, and handsome in leather. 

    Visibility through the windshield is good despite the long hood and raked windshield, thanks to careful location of the driver's seat. Rear visibility over the driver's shoulder isn't very good, but then it's impossible to make it good with a roofline this sporty. Ferraris don't have good rearward vision, either. 

    The trunk is deep but the opening isn't large and it's almost flat, but it's worth it for the handsome rear deck. Good thing there's a pass-through to the trunk behind the rear seat, which isn't easy to crawl into, and feels a bit like a pit. 

    The rear seat legroom measures 29.9 inches, a distinction, as few cars today break below that 30-inch mark. In other words, you'll want to avoid sitting back there. 

    Driving Impression

    Like the Pontiac G8, the Camaro's chassis was developed in Australia, and the Ozzies again aced it. The structure is rigid, helping make the turn-in precise for a car this size; the grip is secure, and the damping is solid and supple, with both the V6 (FE2 suspension) and firmer V8 (FE3). The front suspension uses struts, and the rear is an independent multi-link that's rubber isolated. And we never encountered a harsh moment with the ride, in either car. 

    We spent half a day driving in the country east of San Diego, with the chief designer, Canadian Gene Stafanyshyn, riding shotgun and giving us the whole backstory. He's the guy you can thank for the true programming of the TAPshift manual automatic transmission. It does what you tell it to do, nothing more. We love that. Bully for GM, no corporate committee decisions, here. Stafanyshyn said he too hates manual automatic transmissions that shift on their own. One especially nice thing about this is that when you're in sixth gear on the freeway and accelerate, it won't kick down. It uses its sufficient 273 pound-feet of torque, as it should. 

    One small (but good) speeding problem with the LT is that the cabin is quiet, thanks partly to liquid sound deadener, so 80 mph feels like 70. 

    We chose the Camaro LT with its 3.6-liter V6 as our test model, because we think that's the shining surprise of the line. Sure, the throaty 6.2-liter, 426-horsepower SS will get front center stage, but the sweet-sounding, 7000-rpm V6 that gets 29 highway miles per gallon is the future. Its 304 horsepower is not only more than the 1967 Camaro SS (295 hp from a 350-cubic-inch V8), but more than last year's Mustang GT with a 4.6-liter dohc V8. The Camaro LT accelerates from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds, and will do the quarter mile in 14.4 seconds, which is hot in anyone's book. Stafanyshyn said the secret is the spark ignition in this one-year-old version of the Cadillac engine. 

    The LT will also stop from 60 mph in a superb 106 feet, as measured by Motor Trend magazine, or 128 feet according to GM. Surprisingly, the SS with its four-piston Brembo brakes doesn't do much better, being nearly 200 pounds heavier. Those big brakes will be more fade resistant, handy on a racetrack, but you'd be using the LT's brakes pretty hard to get them that hot. 

    Of course, you might be inclined to drive the LT that hard, especially with the six-speed manual transmission; this might be the most usable sporty combination. The gearbox is not exactly like butter, and Chevrolet says the throws are short but that's relative, and they are shorter than some. But overall it shifted nicely, including easily down into first gear for hairpin turns. 

    The SS is humongously fast, so if you're driving it hard, you're way into the danger zone with the law. It wins the 2010 muscle car battle with the Dodge Challenger SRT8 and Mustang GT, hands-down, say the enthusiast mags. And let's not forget that price, an absolute steal at $31k (almost matching the 1967 Camaro SS price of $26,800 in today's dollars). But we were surprised and a bit disappointed by the civility of the exhaust note, as well as the 6000-rpm redline (with the automatic), so low it felt like the engine was being prevented from working. However, it wasn't; because the horsepower peaks at 5900 rpm, that redline was right. The good news is that the SS with the manual transmission redlines at 6600. 

    Summary

    The new Camaro succeeds on all the main fronts: drop-dead gorgeous looks, potent and efficient engines borrowed from Cadillac and Corvette, great transmissions, superb handling and ride, and great prices. The only area where GM might have missed is the instrumentation, as it lacks the tidiness of the rest of the car. 

    NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Sam Moses drove the new Camaro models near San Diego. 

    Model Lineup

    Chevrolet Camaro LS ($22,245); LT ($23,880); SS ($30,245). 

    Assembled In

    Oshawa, Ontario. 

    Options As Tested

    RS Package ($1750) includes 20-inch painted aluminum wheels, high-intensity discharge headlamps, unique RS tail lights, body-color roof moldings. 

    Model Tested

    Chevrolet Camaro LT ($23,880). 

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