My son and I visited New York last week and when we saw the 2010 Camaro in the rental lot we turned around and paid for the upgrade.
We picked the car up Thursday night and returned it on Monday. Granted, Sunday we took the train to the station to head into Manhattan so it did not get much use that day. But here is my opinion of the car with the 200+ miles I put on it.
I like the car. You should know that I am a Camaro fan having owned a 1993 Camaro Z-28 and a 1967 Camaro RS Convertible. The car looks great, but you pay a big price for that. This car had the worst visibility of any car I have ever driven… ever. If you get claustrophobic you will hate this car.
The ride was as good as my BMW 335i and grip was amazing. However, steering feel is non-existent and it feels heavy. It is not a nimble coupe like my 93 Z was. Power from the V-6 is adequite, but the weight of the car always makes you think the engine is being strained. It felt like the transmisson was slipping, or the torque converter was too loose. You have to rev the engine too much for good thrust and the engine makes a lot more noise doing it than you would expect for the thrust returned.
I really wanted to like this car, but it makes me want to test drive a 2010 Mustang. The problem there is that the Mustang with a V-6 is a dog, and you would have to compare this car to the V-8 Mustang which hardly seems fair.
Like I said, the engine seems overworked by the weight of the Camaro. Leaving the transmission in drive the car is sluggish. Put the trans in sport mode and in maintains gears longer, which helps, but it still feels like it should be quicker. Manual mode doesn’t help much. I think a tighter torque converter with slightly short gearing might make a big different in feel. The trans is the weak link hear. Shifts are so slow that any thoughts of a sports car are removed. Does anyone make a shift kit for this trans yet? It needs one. Full throttle from rest gives plenty of speed, but this is the only way it feels good. 1 gear downshifts while cruising increase engine speed and noise with no increase in thrust. You have to push the pedal enough for at least two gears to get any thrust increase and that comes with a significant increase in noise.
There is enough power for the average person. If you are buying this car for style than it is fast enough. But overall I would prefer less noise and more push in the mid range of highway passing at 50-80 mph. I am sure the V-8 does not have this problem.
Ride and Handling
The ride is excellent. Even over pot-holed NY streets it was never a problem. The tires also have a massive amount of grip. No matter how hard I tried I could not get the tires to squeal. The car corners quite flat as well. However, steering response is slow and the car just feels heavy. It reminds me of the drive I took in a Challenger STR8, a big heavy cruiser. Nimble is just not in the new Camaro’s vocabulary.
I really wanted to prove the 29 MPG this car gets on the EPA cycle. I could not. But this was as much a problem of New York traffic as anything else. The first morning I averaged 24 mpg in the suburbs of Long Island. That dropped to an average of 19.9 mpg with a drive out on the island in rush hour traffic. I drove out to New Jersey and maintained the 20 mpg overall for the first tank of gas.
I filled up in New Jersey before driving back to Long Island. I reset the mileage assuming this was my best chance… it was around 11:00 PM on a Saturday. Sure enough the trip computer climbed its way up to 28.4, then bounced between 28.1 & 28.4 for about 5 miles. There is no instantaneous mileage readout to help me hypermile the car, so I think this was as good as it was going to get. At this time the GPS had me switch from the Garden State Parkway to the New Jersey Turnpike. I have not lived in New York in over 20 years and it was too late before I realized the GPS was taking me through the Lincoln Tunnel and Manhattan rather than the bridge to Staten Island. Oops. I spent 2 hours in gridlock traffic before we emerged on Long Island. The total trip took 4 hours 15 minutes back to the hotel. The average for the entire trip from Jersey… 20 mpg.
So, I averaged 20 mpg the entire time I was in New York. If you live there you can comapre that to what you get with your own car. In Texas I am sure I could average 25 mpg, and would love to see if I could break the 29 mark on a trip to Dallas (I hit 31.7 mpg in my BMW 335i on my way to Dallas a couple of months ago, and it is rated at 27 by the EPA).
As I said, this car has the worst visibilty of any car I have ever driven. To the rear is a joke. The view out the rear view mirror looks like looking through a tunnel. Forget looking over your shoulder as you back up, there is nothing to see but the interior of the car. The A pillars are also huge and create blind spots on either side of the windshield. Plus the side windows are so narrow they add to the claustrophobic effect the interior provides. Rear seat legroom in non-existent with the front seats all the way back. I an 5′ 10″ and I had the seat pretty far back. A friend that is 6′ 3″ rubbed his head on the headliner, but the car was equipped with a sun roof which clearly took up 1 – 2 inches. Without a sunroof my friend would just fit, but I could not see him driving a car long term he could just fit in. Up to 6 feet you will do fine, above that you should get a long test drive before buying.
I like the interior. Yes, the gauges on the front of the console are virtually impossible to read quickly, but who cares. You can read them once in a while. So racing this car is out, but for everyday driving I found most of the gauges to be acceptable… except the speedometer. The orange pointer is so wide that it is difficult to accurately tell how fast you are going within less than 5 mph. 60 or 65? Stare long enough to see if it is 65 when you notice that cop car while your in a 55 zone and it could be too late for you. This is all about style. You sacrifice practicality for style with almost everything about the Camaro.
Speaking of practicality and its effect from styling… the truck is a nice size truck… with a tiny opening. You will not be carrying large objects. Not for a problem with the size of the trunk, but for the hole you must stick them through. We could not load our two soft luggage bags at the same time. Stick one bag in and slide it to the side or back then put the next item in. Keep doing it this way until you have a month’s work of close in the trunk.
The interior lighting it excellent. At maximum the dash lights are too bright late at night. This is a good thing. On almost every car I have ever driven I always leave the dash fully lit. I turned down the lighting on the Camaro. I really like the mood light in the doors that come on with the dash lights (and dims with the dash lights as well). This is style that didn’t cost anything in practicality.
And now for the seats. The seats in the Camaro we drive were by far the most comfortable seats I have ever experienced in an automobile bar none. I know this because when we ended our 4+ hour drive back from Jersey my back felt as fresh as when we left. You should know I have class two bulging discs in my back. When we drove to Dallas in the 335i I played with the lumbar support quite a few times during the trip (also about 4 hours or so). I did not have to touch the Camaro’s seat controls once during the 4 hour drive. That’s good because there was no lumbar control for the Camaro. And I didn’t need it. How cool is that.
The Camaro is the most comfortable, least practical Camaro I have ever driven. All that means nothing. This car is acceptable for its purpose. It looks great and can be enjoyed for miles and miles. Would I buy one. If I were single I would have to test drive the Mustang. I would also test drive a manual transmission with the V-6 in a Camaro to see if that makes up for the mild performance problems. Then there is the V-8.
I like this car… and I would put it on my short list of cars in its price range if I did not have kids.