2010 Chevy Camaro reviewed (Verdict: Eh. Not bad.)

Noted GM apologists at Jalopnik reviewed the new Chevy Camaro, which they seem to like just fine, but can't be bothered to muster too much driving excitement:
If you've been following Jalopnik or even had a conversation with me at any point since last August, you're probably bored to death with hearing about how good GM's latest crop of performance cars are. The 2009 Corvette ZR1 is the best car I've ever driven, the 556 HP Cadillac CTS-V is an utterly awesome performance sedan and you've already been reading about the G8 GXP. So it comes as a surprise that Chevy's flag-waving everyman muscle car doesn't live up to those driving standards. Sure it's stinking fast, but it doesn't make exploiting that performance rewarding in the way all the above did so well. It doesn't so much defy convention, as drive like you'd expect a Camaro would, a really good Camaro. ... It's exactly the car GM should be making, a car that will sell; it's just not the unprecedented new experience that we were hoping for, it's not a real driver's car.
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24 Responses to 2010 Chevy Camaro reviewed (Verdict: Eh. Not bad.)

  1. pork musket says:

    While I’ve been channeling Clarkson a little bit, we really have a lot in common. I absolutely love the LS series engine. My dad has a C5 and C6 Z06… for the record, the Z06 is definitely NOT docile around town. I actually get scared when I drive it. I would drive a newer Pontiac GTO without skipping a beat. The engine/supercharger in the CTS-V is amazing, the ZR-1 even moreso. My uncle owned ‘vettes from all eras, including a 62 NCRS blue ribbon winnter, that were heart-breakingly destroyed when his house burnt down.

    My whole family has a love of vettes, which is why it’s so hard to watch GM be so stupid. I drove a Cobalt for 2 years so I know why they are failing. The ecotec is a neat enough engine wrapped in a turd. The ZR-1 could be the ultimate Corvette, quite literally.

    My daily driver was also $3.5k. It’s not super special but it’s fun, and I can wrench on it without feeling bad about dremeling a big hole in part of the trim like I did on Sunday. My track/drunk driving toy has loads of torque and can corner well (especially when someone that knows what they are doing drives it instead of me) but I’d have to put $20k into it to make it hit 10 seconds on the quarter mile stretch in front of the elementary school, so I understand wanting balanced performance.

  2. pork musket says:

    By “we” having a lot in common, I meant DCulberson and I, not Clarkson and I. Although both might be true to an extent… but I’m better looking than Clarkson.

    “This may just be the best Camaro…. in the world.”

  3. dculberson says:

    Spazzm, sorry, I was not indicating you in the least! I meant “people” in the more general sense. Specifically people I’ve run into before (mostly Brits on Jalopnik) that quote his opinions as if they’re substantive.

    I think your opinion of him is the exact same as mine. Funny, opinionated, but not very informative.

  4. spazzm says:

    Ah, #14 grimc – classic clip :)

    #17 dculberson:
    It’s still fun every now and then, but the people that use his opinions as some sort of authority bother me. That’s like looking to Dame Edna for advice on race relations.

    Whoa there! I mentioned Clarkson because
    a) He’s (nominally) a doctor, so the “Paging Dr….” joke works.
    b) He’s funny, especially his hatred for everything non-british.
    c) He’s got strong opinions on cars.

    I never suggested that he was some fount of oracular car-knowledge. In fact, I think the exact opposite – that’s why he’s funny.

  5. Patrick Austin says:

    @#1: Are you kidding? YES. Way fewer people care about cornering than about going REALLY REALLY FAST in a straight line. I’m not one of them, but you know…people like torque more than just about anything else. And anyway, most people _want_ the isolation they’ve built into this thing.

  6. dculberson says:

    dargaud, I think the sentence as written was more accurate than the portion you quoted; he said the ZR1 was “the best car I’ve ever driven.” That’s an inherently opinionated statement, which means it’s accurate only for the speaker. If I say that a certain marinated tofu dish is the best food I’ve ever eaten, it doesn’t mean I claim that would be true for everyone. (And in fact I know that wouldn’t be the case!)

    Jalopnik is a little different from, say, Road and Track, but they’re still going to be looking at speed before practicality. And honestly, that’s probably the right thing for them to do. What is there to be enthusiastic about a Toyota Sienna? Not much. You don’t see a lot of enthusiast mags and blogs raving about bread and butter cars because they’re not much to rave about. Raves are written about exceptional things, things that are fun and get the pulse going.

    Pork, I actually let out an audible “awww” when I got to the part about your uncle’s ‘vettes being lost in a fire. That’s pretty heartbreaking and would set any gearhead’s heart aflutter.

    I love having a “daily driver” and a “fun” car. It honestly never occurred to me when I was younger, and I spent years daily driving all manner of questionably half done projects. For a couple years I drove my ’66 Pontiac hearse/ambulance combo, every day. 10mpg isn’t so bad when gas is cheap and you’re 21 years old. But now it’s so nice to have something comfy that I know will get me to work. (Not that the Poncho every stranded me – not once!)

    I was just telling my wife (who enjoys to occasional Top Gear, too) that you really don’t have to see more than a handful of Clarkson reviews. If you want to see more Clarkson, just watch the same ones over again. He’ll always have over the top superlatives and then trash the car after they cut to studio. Especially if it’s American. But he does it to everyone – other than the British; what little’s left of their car industry is infallible to him. It’s still fun every now and then, but the people that use his opinions as some sort of authority bother me. That’s like looking to Dame Edna for advice on race relations.

  7. pork musket says:

    @2 And every major manufacturer based in the US is currently on the verge of collapse. Just because they make it doesn’t mean people want it; that was my main point – the 1960s cars were essentially no different, and now they’ve gone and slapped some plastic and bits to meet modern safety standards on it. It’s more of the same rehashed crap from the U.S. auto industry, and more of the same is definitely not what they need right now. That’s why it’s tired. To be fair, the new Challenger, Charger, and Mustang are also all tired. I’m reluctant to put the Corvette in that group because they actually innovate new technology to further the car. Who are they trying to sell these camaros to, 55 year olds that want to re-live their days tearing it up Woodward Ave?

    And since you brought up budget performance here, the base V6 model is $27k. Not exactly cheap, and not exactly performance. For the SS it’s $41k. I can think of many, many cars that I’d rather buy for that money, and I bet most of them go just as fast in a straight line. If that’s what you are after, grab an old Foxbody mustang. I guarantee you can make it faster than a V8 Camaro for 25% of the cost.

  8. sworm says:

    What #4 said.

    Buy an old muscle car, get it fixed up. You’ll have a car that’s twice as fun, and won’t lose half it’s value after you drive it for the first time.

  9. colonel gentleman says:

    @13 – Clarkson was quite keen on the Vette when he drove it from San Fran to Bonneville this season.

  10. Anonymous says:

    No link to the story @ Jalopnik?

  11. dculberson says:

    Pork, this car is not a tarted up old Camaro. It’s all independent suspension and the SS has one of the best engines available today, the LS3. I also think you’re mixed up on pricing – the v6 model is supposed to start at just under $23k and the v8 is just under $31k.

    At $31k, the SS is faster than pretty much anything in its price range. It’s faster than the Mustang GT, and just as fast as the Challenger SRT8 at over $10k cheaper.

    Note that Jalopnik did not say it was slow around turns – they said it wasn’t exciting. It’s decidedly fast even around turns. Not compared to, say, a Ferrari, but it’s not competing with a Ferrari.

    Bringing up used cars is a lousy tactic. At that point you’re not just comparing apples to oranges, you’re comparing apples to a brick.

    The point I’m trying to make is, hate the Camaro all you want but hate it for a reason that’s at least correct.

    Regarding the verge of collapse comment – the Mustang is one of the few really profitable enthusiast models made right now. The 2010 Camaro is a shot across Ford’s bow – GM’s attempt to finally have something that competes in the budget performance arena. I’m all for cheap, RWD speed. I’m definitely not in the target market (not sporting a mullet at the moment) but I don’t think this is a terrible car. It’s probably the best Camaro made yet.

  12. dculberson says:

    Oh, and I can definitely say that while fixing up an old muscle car is a great deal of fun, it’s not something you’re going to drive to work every day and you would not believe what a money sink they are. $30k starts to sound cheap after a year or two messing with a ’66 Pontiac… ;-)

  13. pork musket says:

    I must’ve been looking at an old source for the price, probably published before the whole GM pants-shitting episode. Those prices are admittedly much closer to what I expected.

    It has an independent suspension, that’s nice. I’m glad they are finally putting some mid-80s tech in there. What is this car trying to be? Is it a straight-line demon? Then IRS isn’t really necessary (cue massive debate). Wait, it can corner? And they called it a Camaro? I dunno… I’m still not sold, but obviously I’m not part of their demographic.

    I know bringing up used cars is dirty pool. I just can’t see why you’d pick this car over a cheaper, older car that is actually fun to drive. All of this, of course, knowing that I haven’t driven the Camaro.

    I hope this car is good for GM, but I see stupid all over it. I’m all for cheap, RWD speed as well, but there’s a reason they offer plenty of the above in foreign markets and very little in the U.S. This may win them a part of the Mustang crowd, but I don’t think it’s going to be a win for GM in general. Of course at this point, I’d probably bet against GM in just about every circumstance.

  14. Anonymous says:

    then you have the car reviewers from Edmunds who were told to stop doing burnouts. :)

  15. spazzm says:

    Paging Dr. Clarkson…

  16. pork musket says:

    Tired redesign of a tired car. The CTS-V I can get a little bit excited about because it can corner like a BMW. Is there really a large sector of the American population that wants their cars to go fast in a straight line while looking like tarted up kit versions of the finest 1960s technology?

  17. WalterBillington says:

    Please, not the Clarkson, or any of his gang. Ugh – enough in 1996.

    Americans love cars that go in straight lines, then manage to turn 90 degrees to the left or right on a 400 foot radius arc. The love affair is with the concept of go and looks – not with performance, as with Europeans. Go and looks look like performance, and hence sells.

    So the point that it’s exactly the car they should be making is on the money – it’s extremely good looking, cossetting for the driver, and that allows the ascent (transcendental or other) into the fantasy state that seduces the American consumer. It references the space-age, the advertising images and vision-scape that rebound and recur over time in American culture.

    It’s a draw, simple. Like the Corvette.

    Personally, I’d buy the BMW 335. But I’d happily have a go in the Camaro.

  18. Grimnir says:

    I don’t think there’s anything inherently unexciting about a car that doesn’t perform like a sports car. You can still get excited about an exceptional design. The prius is not exactly a speed demon, but it’s still a remarkably well-designed car. It’s worth getting excited about. BMWs don’t really perform much better than their cheaper competition– there’s a lot more difference between a 95 BMW and an 09 BMW than there is between a 335 and a G8, performance-wise. But what sets the BMW apart is the fit and finish and overall design.

    As for me, I live in Portland, and my car needs more repairs than it’s worth. When it dies, it dies, I’m not replacing it, though I’m the only one with a car in my household. Maybe an xtra-cycle with an electric assist and heated grips. Now that’s $2k worth spending!

  19. grimc says:

    Paging Dr. Clarkson…

    You rang?

    Pork Musket is channeling Clarkson, or visa versa.

  20. dculberson says:

    Yeah, Clarkson is occasionally very entertaining, but he’s definitely not a source of actual car wisdom or facts.

    I would argue that going fast in a straight line is a facet of “performance,” it’s just not the only form of performance. I.e. a Miata is great fun but it’s definitely outperformed by a lot of cars that are what? Faster in a straight line.

    Oh, the Corvette. I am unashamedly in love the current Corvette. I rented a C6 and it was the single greatest driving car I’ve ever had the possibility of driving. A friend has a BMW 335 and while it’s an awesome car – and miles beyond the Corvette in fit and finish – it didn’t get the smiles going with as much ease. If you ever find yourself in the position to, drive a C6 vette. Well, unless you’re afraid it will make you want to buy one – which it did to me. But I’m too hopelessly cheap to actually buy one so far.

    Before driving one, I had the “gold chain” image in my mind. But it was seriously one hell of a car. Docile as a Miata around town, but steady and controlled at 110mph on uneven pavement. It will tear your face off with the brakes. Yet it was still comfy!? And, despite what Clarkson whinges about (ox cart suspension) it’s a car that can corner with the best of them. Chevrolet’s had a half century to refine that ox cart, and just like Porsche with the 911’s “wrong” engine placement, they’ve managed to take it farther than a lot of their competition can go with a more “modern” suspension setup.

  21. Anonymous says:

    “Is there really a large sector of the American population that wants their cars to go fast in a straight line while looking like tarted up kit versions of the finest 1960s technology?”

    Ummm, yeah. And, how exactly can a car be “tired” if it’s been out of production for seven, going on eight years? “Budget” performance is the hallmark of American muscle. You wanna go fast in a straight line? Every major manufacturer in US history has had dedicated models for just that purpose.

    The “finest 60’s technology” was no different. The musclecar wars of the 60’s (of which this car is descended) were waged and won on Woodward ave., not on the winding curves of a Monaco coastline.

    Besides, most autosnobs that whine about handling couldn’t define under steer if they were trapped beneath a bull. You get what you pay for, and if you want a nimble, hot cornering roadster, the word “Camaro” has never, and will never enter your consciousness.

  22. Scuba SM says:

    There seem to be two major camps (and hundreds, if not thousands of smaller camps) about what makes a car fun to drive. And speaking broadly, it seems that the car enthusiasts from across the pond like cars that are maneuverable and agile, and can take hairpin turns without touching the brakes, while the Americans like the heavy iron that goes fast in a straight line. I think I understand why there is that disconnect: In Europe, the roads generally follow serpentine paths, as the roads have evolved with the various modes of transportation. Similarly, the city streets are very narrow by American standards, as a fair number of cities predate American cities by centuries. However, a sizable portion of the American highway system was built in the 50s, and it wasn’t just built with the idea of connecting various cities and making driving easier and faster; it was built to serve as emergency landing strips for the US Air Force if the the Air Force bases were knocked out by a Russian nuclear strike. As a result, the original interstates were built with mile long straight sections connected by broad, sweeping turns where necessary. The car companies of the respective countries responded to their consumer’s demand, and built cars that fit with the driving styles that match their highway system. American muscle probably isn’t the best fit for European roads, and European finesse is largely lost on endless sections of straight highway.

    Can’t we all just get along? :p

  23. dargaud says:

    WTF is the “best car ever driven” ?

    Does it have enough clearance to go on a dirt road strewn with rocks ? Does it handle well enough to come back on said road after it has snowed ? Can I sleep in it comfortably ? Can I put a roof box on it with a ton of gear in it ? Is it ugly enough that car thieves will leave it alone ? Can it go fast enough on a highway while drinking only a third of your average american car ? Will my passengers puke if I drive (normally) on a winding road ? Can it park in Rome (the ultimate test of radius and manageable size) ? Is it white so it won’t bake its content while lying in the summer sun all day ?

    You see, my definition of the ‘best’ car is widely different from yours, so the whole idea is stupid. Car mags always put forward the same tired old concepts (‘fast’, ‘performance’, ‘aggressive’…)

  24. dculberson says:

    Yeah, I think it’s funny when IRS is a notable feature in 2009. Same with 4-wheel disc brakes. Volvo’s had that in every model since the early 60’s. (Or thereabouts..)

    I do think the IRS will help make the Camaro a more practical daily driver; even just for regular freeway use it helps make a car a lot more composed. (Comparing my old daily driver, ’96 Roadmaster, to my current, a ’95 LS-400, it’s astounding what a difference in road holding a good suspension makes…)

    I’m right there with you on the new versus used. Clearly, since the ’95 is my “new” car. But the people that will consider spending $30k on a car are not the people that will consider driving a $500 clunker to work. I’m somewhere in between – my daily driver was a whopping $3.5k. For me that’s the sweet spot; you can find some really, really nice cars just under $5k that will last for years and years. I even get “nice car!” from people that paid many times what I paid. (of course, do-it-yourself repairs are a requirement when driving a used $65k car on a budget.)

    Back on point.. I hope this car works out. I think the looks will appeal to a lot of people. But you’re probably right, betting with GM on this is probably a fool’s errand.

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