California Autos Examiner

Saturday, October 03, 2009

2010 Chevrolet Camaro review: Can you relive your youth? (Part II)

Front clip of the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro looks mean

This is Part II of my 2010 Camaro review, to read Part I please click here.

The outside of the 2010 Camaro has had me smitten since the first time I laid eyes on the Camaro concept. It was the interior that always gave me pause. I just felt the pods for speedo and tach didn’t make for a great place to while away the hours on the road. I was pleasantly surprised when I got behind the wheel and started up the Camaro: I did not mind the interior, in fact, I rather liked it. The gauges seem to fit the mood of the car and the gunslit visibility adds to the ambiance. Of course, until you are well aware of the car’s dimensions, it is a bit of a chore to maneuver in close quarters. The Camaro could certainly benefit from some parking sensors and a rearview camera.

View a slideshow of the 2010 Camaro's interior by clicking here. Part I of this series featured a slideshow of exterior shots, you can view them by clicking here.

My 1986 model was a hatch and it really came in handy when the Camaro was used for more than hauling butt. This 2010 model has a trunk with a narrow opening and that really limits its usefulness. I used the Camaro to run some errands: Returning stuff to Bed, Bath & Beyond, taking the vacuum cleaner in for repairs, etc. and it was a real game of Tetris to get the goods into the trunk. For me this would severely impact the day to day usefulness of the car as I do haul around a lot of crap. Is it a big deal for many buyers? Probably not. The issue is that the Camaro is darn tractable that it lulls you into the sense that it could be used as your only car. If you don’t carry rear seat passengers often, can live with the smallish trunk and visibility issues, you really don’t have to make a lot of excuses: The Camaro is comfortable to ride in, has decent fuel economy and yet it makes you want to forget things at the grocery store so that you can take another drive.

I played around on the always entertaining Skyline (35), zipping up Page Mill the shooting down Highway 92 and then back again on 35 checking out side roads. Whenever I came up a slower car, the Camaro easily rocketed from 40 to 60MPH for a comfortable passing maneuver.

The model I test drove was a 2010 Camaro 1LT Coupe. The base price was $23,880 and on top of that were several packages:

$655 Convenience and Connectivity: Bluetooth for phone, wireless PDIM, USB port, steering wheel mounted audio controls, leather wrapped steering wheel, leather wrapped shift knob, cargo convenience net, and remote vehicle starter system.

Do not leave home without this package! The Bluetooth integration is super smooth and iPod are easily controlled. The only thing missing is a leather wrapped emergency brake handle. The rubber cover is squishy and feels cheap. Since your hand will frequently rest on it, this touch point should be beefed up. GM should boost the price of this package by $300 or so and put a backup camera screen in the in the rear view mirror, it can be a real bear to back out of your driveway.

$1,750 RS Package: 20” painted aluminum wheels, body color roof ditch molding, headlamps with high intensity discharge with halo ring, rear spoiler, and RS unique tail lamps. You might be a bit concerned by 20” wheels, but the Camaro can handle it without beating you up and the 20s do look great, but the standard 18” wheels will obviously treat you to a better ride and cheaper replacement tires. Do you need this package? No, the RS is something you could skip, but chances are you’ll get back a good portion of your investment when it comes time for resale, besides, how many times in your life are you going to buy a Camaro?

$900 Sunroof: This is another one of those optional items that I have mixed feelings about. Because of the small window openings, the interior can be quite dark, but leaving the shade on the sunroof open caused the car to really heat up. You can skip this option without much regret.

$995 6-Speed Automatic: Your call on this one.

$750 Polished Aluminum wheels: If the 20” rims silver paint isn’t enough flash, then you can pay $750 to skip the finish and go with a polish instead.

Obviously, you don’t “need” this one as the silver wheels are just fine.

There were no other options missing that I regard as must haves. The total on the car was $29,400 once shipping charge of $750 was added in. As pointed out above, you could shave over $3,000 in options off the tab and still have a fine sports car.

At the beginning of this review, I asked if you could relive your youth. The answer is unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your younger years, the answer is no. Neither the 2010 Camaro nor I are anything like our 1986 editions. For the Camaro, that is a good thing as the car is a truly well screwed together, nicely designed vehicle that could legitimately be used as an all purpose, all season car. For me, the life of a family man has taken over my days and nights. On one of the last evenings I had with the Camaro, I took it up onto Skyline and was zipping along, taking in the sights and sounds of the twilight hours. I came up behind a slower moving Toyota minivan, the same color and model year as my own. In a strange moment of role reversal, I was my younger self again: Cursing at the plodding family truckster as I impatiently waited for a passing opportunity. However, while I cooled my heals, I began thinking about my own family. If that was us in the van, Thomas the Train would probably be playing on the video monitor. Maybe we’d all be singing a song or telling a joke. For a second I was a bit sad that I wasn’t with my wife and kids at that moment. Shortly thereafter the broken yellow line appeared in my favor and I punched the throttle. The Sienna was quickly a mere twinkle in my rear view mirror. I might not have have regained my youth, but I’m older now and I have more insurance.

Test drive highs: Handles, brakes and rides like a cohesive package. Solidly constructed. Good fuel economy. Modern amenities such as Bluetooth. Priced right.

Test drive lows: Rearward visibility. It's a big car and visibility issues make it feel even bigger. Seatbelt cut into my neck. Interior plastics on the cheap side. Trunk is for light duty only.

Summary: If you recognize and accept its (few) limitations, the 2010 Camaro represents an excellent value.

For more info: Visit Chevrolet's website.
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