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  • 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe

    Posted on August 20th, 2009 ninarussin

    Can Chevrolet’s powerful new two-plus-two dominate the pony car wars?

    By Nina Russin

    2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

    2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

    This year, Chevrolet introduces an all-new Camaro for the 2010 model year, with a powerful SS grade that promises to give the Mustang GT a run for the money. There are two available V8 engines: the L99 on automatic transmission models, and the LS3 on cars equipped with the six-speed manual transmission.

    The L99 engine has a cylinder cut-off feature that enhances fuel economy when engine load is low. The LS3 engine on the manual transmission model is also the base engine in the Chevrolet Corvette.

    The Camaro LS3 engine is slightly detuned, producing four less horsepower than the block in the Corvette. As someone who’s spent lots of time around both cars, I would guess that a cold air package would quickly bring the Camaro engine up to Corvette speed.

    Both of the Camaro V8 engines are significantly more powerful than the 315- horsepower block in the Mustang GT. Since the Camaro SS and Mustang GT have similar EPA fuel economy ratings, one might wonder why anybody would choose the Ford over the Chevy.

    One deal breaker is the price: base on the Camaro SS with the manual transmission is $33,430, as compared to $27,995 for the Mustang. The test car, which comes equipped the RS package and twenty-inch alloy wheels costs $35,850.

    The other deciding factor could be Chevrolet’s loss of owner loyalty. When the automaker stopped building the Camaro eight years ago, enthusiasts were left with the choice of upgrading to the pricier Corvette, or changing brands. In the meantime, Ford continued to build Mustang equity with new models and features.

    Four-hundred twenty-six horses worth of heavenly joy

    This week, I have the opportunity to see whether the new Camaro SS has enough muscle to make a comeback against the Mustang. The test car comes with the LS3 engine and a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission. Four-piston Brembo brakes are an upgrade over the smaller discs on the V6 Camaro.

    The RS package adds special wheels, high-intensity discharge headlamps, body molding and unique taillamps ($1200). The test car also has 20-inch alloy wheels: an upgrade from the painted wheels on the RS ($470). I must say that charging $470 for an extra set of rims on top of the RS wheels seems a bit cheesy, since there’s no refund for the unused part of the RS package.

    Up front, a gold bow tie graces the Camaro’s blacked-out grille, along with an SS badge to the side. Large front air intakes and a sizeable bump on the hood imply that the Camaro is all business: ditto for dual exhaust pipes and the integrated rear spoiler.

    Standard comfort and convenience options include remote keyless entry, leather seating, A Boston acoustics audio system with XM satellite radio, OnStar with a one-year complimentary subscription, Bluetooth interface and a USB port.

    When the driver cranks the ignition, the Camaro lets out an impressive roar. The manual gearbox is easy to shift, lacking the annoying skip-shift feature of earlier models. It also has a shorter throw, for faster, more precise shifting. The Camaro accelerates from zero-to-sixty in 4.7 seconds, matching the performance of more expensive sport coupes.

    The clutch pedal is on the stiff side, but that’s what one would expect for an American muscle car. I lived with a stiff clutch on my ’94 Camaro for sixteen years, and was never really bothered by it.

    The six-way power driver’s seat is easy to adjust, providing plenty of lower lumbar support. Both front seats have large side bolsters, but the bolsters don’t make it difficult to enter or exit the car.

    Rear seats are essentially a nod to the insurance companies. I was able to squeeze in back with the front seats moved forward, but lack of legroom and ambient light due to the car’s black headliner makes the second row uncomfortable. Its best use is as extra storage: both seats fold flat to create a pass-through from the trunk.

    Though the hood bump doesn’t restrict forward vision, it definitely makes it harder to judge where the front wheels are. The Camaro has a very small rear window, and thick rear pillars that create large blind spots to the back. The side mirrors compensate pretty well on the road, but parallel parking is a challenge. Over-the-shoulder visibility is good.

    A four-wheel independent suspension on the 2010 Camaro replaces the solid rear axle on the former model. The new suspension gives the 2010 model significantly better handling: an improvement that seems more dramatic than the increase in horsepower. An isolated sub-frame in the rear dampens bumps and potholes in the road, while large stabilizer bars front and back keep the chassis flat.

    Standard stability control prevents the driver from losing directional control due to excessive yaw. A button on the center console turns the system off for driving on the track.

    Steering feedback from the variable-assist rack-and-pinion setup is excellent at all speeds. A turning radius of 37.7 feet is adequate for the occasional U-turn.

    The Brembo brakes add value to the SS model, especially for drivers who plan to spend time at the track. Not only do they stop the car on a dime: they are incredibly resilient in hot weather. Pirelli P-Zero summer tires are standard on the SS. Buyers who live in four-season climates should consider buying a second set of wheels and winter tires.

    Aircraft-inspired interior

    The Camaro interior resembles a small jet. The black upholstery and headliner is attractive, though not very practical in the hot southwestern climate. Fortunately, designers covered the steering wheel and shift knob with leather rather than metal.

    A four-gauge cluster on the floor console has analog readouts for oil temperature, oil pressure, charging system status and transmission fluid temperature. Two large gauges on the instrument panel frame a digital information screen that includes actual speed, two trip meters, distance to empty, average fuel economy and average speed.

    A large, dished steering wheel has redundant audio controls and Bluetooth interface to minimize driver distraction. A tilt and telescoping function enables smaller drivers to maintain a safe distance from the front airbag.

    Both doors have small map pockets. Of the two cupholders in the center console, one is large enough to hold a twenty-ounce bottle. A large bin under the center armrest holds compact discs or portable electronic devices, and includes a USB port and 12-volt power point. There is a second12-volt outlet next to the shift lever.

    Designers positioned the parking brake next to the front passenger seat. It’s still easy to reach, but the brake lever doesn’t restrict driver access to the center console.

    A single overhead reading lamp illuminates the front of the car at night. A large locking glovebox holds car documents and maps.

    The Camaro’s trunk is long but extremely shallow. That, plus a high lift-over make it impractical for buyers with active lifestyles. A cargo net keeps grocery bags from sliding around in back. Folding the rear seats flat extends the cargo floor for golf bags and other long cargo.

    To save weight, the Camaro comes with a tire inflation kit in lieu of a spare.

    Standard safety

    The Camaro SS comes standard with front, side and side curtain airbags, OnStar with automatic crash notification, four-channel antilock brakes, traction and stability control. Chevrolet builds the Camaro at its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario Canada.

    Likes: The new SS has significantly more power than the model it replaces, since it utilizes the same engine as the base Corvette. Four-wheel independent suspension is a huge improvement over the solid rear axle on the F-body. Brembo four-piston brakes add value for the driving enthusiast.

    Dislikes: Lack of room in the second-row seats. Restricted visibility due to the front hood bump, narrow greenhouse and large rear pillars.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Chevrolet
    Model: Camaro SS
    Year: 2010
    Base price: $33,430
    As tested: $35,850
    Horsepower: 426 Hp @ 5900 rpm
    Torque: 420 foot-pounds @ 4600 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: 4.7 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Towing: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Fuel economy: 16/24 mpg city/highway
    Comments: The manufacturer recommends premium fuel for optimum performance.


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