GM's 2010 Chevrolet Camaro breaks through

Posted by: David Welch on July 2, 2009

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In Detroit’s hey day, American cars were been fawned over in rock and roll tunes both for their brawny performance and cultural significance. Songs like Bruce Springsteen’s “Cadillac Ranch” glorified big, ostentatious Caddies. “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen did far more as an homage to horsepower and a polish job for Ford’s luxury brand than it did for the band’s career. But the same can’t be said for the Chevy Camaro.

The most recognizable tune I can think of is the ‘80s punk ditty “Bitchin’ Camaro” by the Dead Milkmen. In the tune, the Milkmen lampoon the Camaro as a car for rich spoiled kids who guzzle gas and tear up their neighbor’s yard. It’s the hood ornament for crass American suburbia. Here’s a clip of the lyrics:

So you’d better get out of my way
When I come through your yard
Cause I’ve got a bitchin’ Camaro
And an Exxon credit card

For much of its history, the Camaro was a gaudy guzzler for the buzz cut and gold chains crowd. The cars were usually fast, but also inexpensive and unsophisticated. So, frankly, when GM announced two years ago that Chevy would bring the car back, I was very skeptical. It arrives later than Ford’s Mustang and Chrysler’s Challenger. And let’s face it, reborn muscle cars preach to the 50-something guys who already buy American brands, not the import owners that Detroit needs to win back to survive. It sends a signal to people shopping for Bimmers, Hyundais, Priuses and the like that Detroit is stuck in 1970.

But after driving the new Camaro, I have to erase all of that. The car is simply terrific. And it’s far more sophisticated in many ways that competing cars and certainly than the old Camaros. Start with the engine. My test model had a direct-injection V6 which kicks 304 horsepower but gets 29 mpg on the highway. All that grunt still guzzles 19 mpg in the city, but a combined 22 or 23 mpg for a car with that much oomph is impressive. You can get a V8 in the SS version, but it starts at $31,000. The V6 models start at $23,000

Then take a look at the car. Love the design or hate it, you have to say that it’s not just reproduced retro. Chrysler simply knocked off a 1970 Challenger. The Camaro looks like a new-era interpretation of the old pony car. If GM never killed it, the Camaro may have just evolved into this design today. It’s fresh. The Camaro really handles quite well, too. At 3,700 pounds it doesn’t feel as heavy as other big sporty cars.

The cabin is decidedly retro and not the car’s best feature. GM took many cues from the early ‘70s cars. And while the plastics inside don’t feel top grade, they’re good enough for a car that starts at $23,000 and offers as much as it does in terms of performance and style. My test car, by the way, was about $30,000 loaded up with satellite radio, blue tooth, stability control and a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system.

Still, the new Camaro is a very impressive car. I was surprised by how much I liked it. I’ve never been a Camaro guy. But I was also suspect of how GM would execute it. When Pontiac brought back the GTO in 2004, GM was content to take a ‘90s jelly bean body style from its Australian unit, shove a big engine under the hood and call it reborn muscle. It didn’t last. This is a purpose-built muscle car for a new age, and quite a good way to usher in the New GM assuming the company emerges from bankruptcy in a couple of months as planned.

Reader Comments

GM Daughter

July 2, 2009 11:40 AM

Camaro was never intended to be sophisticated. It was intended to be the poor man's Corvette. It was powerful enough to impress the girls and affordable enough for college kids. It was all about image. And yes, people still drool over the things.

Karl

July 2, 2009 12:11 PM

The cost of many of the new cars in America is WAY OUTTA SIGHT for the vast majority of Americans these days! Bring back the 1969 Z-28 with a 302 cubic inch engine for around $3,500 and watch 'em sell like HOT CAKES!!!!

Karl

July 2, 2009 12:11 PM

The cost of many of the new cars in America is WAY OUTTA SIGHT for the vast majority of Americans these days! Bring back the 1969 Z-28 with a 302 cubic inch engine for around $3,500 and watch 'em sell like HOT CAKES!!!!

Yeri jr

July 2, 2009 12:30 PM

The price at 30k for those few features you mentioned above like satellite radio, blue tooth, stability control, speakers etc seems too expensive vs if i were to buy the basic version for 23k and customize it my self with the 7k i have left compared to buying a new fully loaded Camaro at 30k.

john

July 2, 2009 1:13 PM

Fantastic car in a lot of ways. Designer is South Korean, which I'm personally proud of.

However, GM you've put my life in danger TOO MANY TIMES! Chevy Lumina Minivan - power shut off at every red light. Chevy Suburban - power shut off every 15 minutes.

Has put every member of my family in serious danger countless times. Lots of $$$ in major repair bills.

The only time my Honda left me stranded is when I didn't have enough gas in the tank. Bye GM, no more of my $$ for you!

practical

July 2, 2009 3:25 PM

Can't drive this car in the snow belt
I would love to have this, but the sports car enthusiast hate the front wheel drive cars but I don't want to be spinning my wheels come November

Lucky

July 2, 2009 3:33 PM

Shit hits the fan. Really crappy looking car. Won't sell.

jambo

July 2, 2009 3:48 PM

When I was a kid, one of my favorite cars was the Camero SS. Loved it. I also like this new one.

I think there will be a rush of folks to buy it cuz it is a kool car, but that market is quite small. People who bought it would have it, but that will be the end of it. I doubt it will be enough to save GM though.

I think GMs time has passed, but I hope the new GM will make better cars that get great gas mileage with superior quality. We'll see.

I would get a Ford first b4 I buy GM or Chrysler. btw- We were a Chevy/Caddilac family back then, with some Ford sprinkled in.

Olaf

July 2, 2009 4:30 PM

I find 3700 pounds outrageous for a car this size. A Celica weighs about 2400 pounds fully loaded. This just tells me GM cars are poorly designed compared to their Japanese / European counterparts, which are therefore much more fuel efficient.

I personally think GM's twilight has come and even after bankruptcy they'll vanish in a couple of years.

eric phx

July 2, 2009 5:53 PM

Since i came to US, I decided to only drive american car. I had 2 cadillac and one buick century. All are shits. Stranded me on ramp, before or after tunnel over Likelike hwy in Hawaii. My friends drove cheap even getto Japanese car passed by. You know how did I feel? Sometimes, I hid in fear of them seeing me and gave them a story(embarrassing)to humiliating me. From that time on I don't care how good looking american cars or European cars look, I stick with very plain looking Toyota and Honda only. Never have to see any mechanic for 15years and feel peace of mind. Let me put it this way: If a Bently can't run, in my book it's not a car. It's just another trash.

Reid G

July 2, 2009 8:39 PM

Camaro plant Oshawa ONT Canada Working Saturday overtime to meet big demand for one of the best built G.M. vehicles finally releasing convertible to be built later this year.As this is a world car.Please G.M. do not hold back on the right hand drive models.If money is short on the tooling cost get rid of some of the dead wood upper management.

Reid G

July 2, 2009 8:39 PM

Camaro plant Oshawa ONT Canada Working Saturday overtime to meet big demand for one of the best built G.M. vehicles finally releasing convertible to be built later this year.As this is a world car.Please G.M. do not hold back on the right hand drive models.If money is short on the tooling cost get rid of some of the dead wood upper management.

Reid G

July 2, 2009 8:43 PM

Camaro plant Oshawa ONT Canada Working Saturday overtime to meet big demand for one of the best built G.M. vehicles finally releasing convertible to be built later this year.As this is a world car.Please G.M. do not hold back on the right hand drive models.If money is short on the tooling cost get rid of some of the dead wood upper management.

Paul (Vw)

July 2, 2009 10:01 PM

>>> The most recognizable tune I can think of is the ‘80s punk ditty “Bitchin’ Camaro” by the Dead Milkmen.

>>> So you'd better get out of my way
>>> When I come through your yard
>>> Cause I've got a bitchin' Camaro
>>> And an Exxon credit card

Even these days that's hard core stuff -- "an Exxon credit card."

Now don't tell us you had a mullet then too.

Snoz

July 3, 2009 4:52 AM

While Toyota, Honda,Nissan, BMW, and Mercedes are moving to the next generation of cars, "Big3" is mired in the past, reproducing variants of cars of yesteryears. Chrysler resurrected the Challenger, Charger, and Sebring. Ford exhumed the Mustang, and T-bird. The New GM is re-packaging the old Camero with a notable direct fuel injection engine but without VVTI. This half-way measure is a reiteration of GM's half-hearted application of new technology such as hybrid and battery technology. Apparently, the New GM is still harboring the same old inept executives who, as in the past, gave American car buyers the galvanized steel mufflers, front drum brakes, optional under body anti-rust coating, optional right side rear view mirror, optional floor carpet, optional FM radio, optional variable speed wipers, optional 3 speed auto transmission, etc, etc. If this re-born Camero is the best the New GM can do, Ford will be the only remaining auto maker.

jimbo853okg

July 5, 2009 11:44 PM

Karl,

Yeah, right. I mean, you do understand that $3,500 is 1969 money. That's about $30,000 today. As an apples-to-apples price comparison, I suppose the Camaro evens out.

To me, Camaro has "Flash in the Pan" written all over it, and the bankruptcy makes it worse. Personally I'd go for a hot hatch Honda, VW, Subaru or Mazda for about $7K less and much better fuel economy.

As for who'd buy a GM car, especially one that's still so wasteful, well, thank G-d for individual choice. If it's Detroit muscle you're after, stick with the Mustang.

gm used cars

July 6, 2009 5:47 AM

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Jeff Warg

July 7, 2009 8:58 PM

The Camaro is a well executed car. If you listen to the customer, they will come with checkbook in hand. Camaro has the same v6 engine as the Cadillac CTS for thousands less. The standard IRS is a feature the base Mustang doesnt even offer. The slit windows do hinder visibility, however, the car does have plenty of legroom up front.

I wonder what the mpg would have been if the Camaro was built on the lighter kappa chassis instead? The key question, why GM let one of the top three most recognized model names in the industry sit unused for 7 model years?

Willy P

July 12, 2009 1:06 AM

If GM really wants to compete in the hybrid market, they will have to produce a car that gets the same kind of mileage, has the same kind of cargo space, and costs less than a Prius. A friend of mine in Germany has had his Prius for three years, and loves it. Never has had any trouble with it at all. Gets incredible mileage, and it has enough pickup to move fast when he needs for it to.

GM, wise up or we will be bailing you out again.

richard

August 6, 2009 12:58 AM

Gm you take to long to produce concept model for the buy public. look at the japs, today concept the next day production! look at ford they got the message, and now their coming back strong. [WAKEUP GENERAL MOTOR]U CAN COME BACK!!!!!

Mike Mcdonnell

March 19, 2010 6:17 AM

Old outdated car wont sell

www.consumerautoreview.com

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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