2010 Chevrolet Camaro V6: Lots of Show, Pretty Good Go
Perhaps it’s mildly poetic that the new Camaro’s stunning design is associated to some degree with the Transformers movies. Three years before the new Camaro hit the streets after an eight year hiatus, Bumblebee, the heroic robotic Camaro, was whetting the public’s appetites for a revitalized Chevrolet. After all, if a Camaro could look this good, how about the rest of the Chevrolet lineup? That is, if Chevrolet build this new Camaro at all?
Fortunately for everyone, Chevrolet most certainly did build this new Camaro, helping to set the stage for Chevrolet’s (and General Motors’) own transformation. Yup, Camaro is quite the transformer, both in the movies and in real life!
We won’t bore you with too many of the nuts and bolts as those of you who love geeking out over that sort of thing undoubtedly already did so last year when it hit the streets. We’ll simply tell you that it sits on an Australian-designed rear wheel drive platform that incorporates a sophisticated four wheel independent suspension (a first for Camaro) and for the 2010 model year was powered by either a 304HP 3.6L V6 or a 6.2L V8 making either 400HP (with the six-speed automatic) or 425HP (with the six-speed manual).
Wait…the base engine has 304HP? Actually, for 2011 it has 312HP (our bright orange tester was a 2010 with the 304HP engine), if you’re keeping track. Though most gearheads would gravitate towards the V8, we thought it would be more interesting to test the base V6, especially since it has a level of power very close to that of the last Camaro Z28 sold in 2002.
So does the base V6 make for a proper muscle car engine? Well, let’s just say there’s nothing to be ashamed of by opting for the six. We will point out that today’s Camaro is quite a bit heavier than the last one, so 300+ horsepower doesn’t provide the get-up-and-go of the old Z28. The car in V6 form feels big and heavy; it’s a cruiser as opposed to a scrappy muscle car. That said, it’s pleasant and provides more than adequate acceleration. And, the six-speed automatic that the engine is attached to is very contemporary and adds to the car’s refined character.
What’s that about refinement, you ask? Yes, it actually is. In addition to the well-behaved powertrain, the independent rear suspension gives the 2010 Camaro a ride quality never before experienced in prior generations. This is despite the giant 21-inch wheels and ultra low profile tires. Like we said, this is a great car to cruise in…and part of cruising is looking good.
And we can’t fault it there. The exterior styling was universally loved amongst our staff. There are of course plenty of visual nods to Camaro’s history, but it looks every bit of the here and now. The interior is a little more overtly retro, with shapes hearkening back to the original ’67. Unfortunately, some of the materials are a little retro too; while the fit and finish are pretty good, most of the materials are hard, unforgiving plastics that lack the finesse of those found in the heavily facelifted Mustang, its obvious and most immediate rival.
There is no in-dash navigation either or anything comparing to Ford’s SYNC, both of which are readily available in the Mustang. Camaro does have OnStar’s off-board navigation available, which is arguably easier to use than Mustang’s as all you do is tell the OnStar operator where you’re going, and the directions are downloaded to the car. However, directions are displayed as monochrome text; no fancy color screens and maps here.
Still, as a cruiser, the Camaro V6 is very hard to fault. Few cars are as visually stunning and unlike Camaros past, this one is actually very nice to drive and easy to live with day by day.
The gearheads in us can’t wait to drive the V8-powered SS, though, or the upcoming supercharged Z28!