2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe new car reviews

Better than: a Camaro V6.
But not as good as: a Transformer.
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 94.00

Our first taste of the all-new Chevy Camaro was the tame yet certainly more-than-adequate V6 model. Now we have finally spent time with the Camaro SS, 6.2-liter V8 and all. Our test car was even blessed with the available TR6060 six-speed manual transmission. It's like someone upstairs likes us.

The SS adds the goodies aimed right at our market. In addition to the 426-horsepower engine, the car also comes standard with Brembo brakes and a limited-slip differential. With that equipment comes a weight penalty, though, as GM lists the SS at 3849 pounds. (The V6 car is still a far-from-flyweight 3719 pounds.)

Our test car also featured the $1200 RS package, which adds 20x8-inch front and 20x9-inch wheels, HID headlamps and the RS tail lamps. The car's only other option was the polished wheels, a $470 splurge.

Sadly, it didn't sport the Transformers Special Edition Package. According to the Chevy Web site, this $995 option adds a "unique Transformers rally stripe in black, Autobot shield wheel center caps, Transformers sill plates, Autobot shield embroidery on center console armrest, and Autobot shield exterior badging." It's only available with the Rally Yellow hue.

So, how does the Camaro SS go? Quickly. Check the video and staff comments for details.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

This is a big car: 20-inch wheels, 6.2-liter V8 and a two-ton curb weight. It's also a small car: tiny trunk opening, tiny side windows and a tiny windshield. It's polar opposites at work.

Yes, it's an awesome performance car. GM's latest V8 does all kinds of good things and makes wonderful noises. The six-speed gearbox is also Miata smooth. The clutch is surprisingly easy. The drivetrain gets an A+.

Everything else? Well, honestly, if this car was 7/8-scale it would be perfect. Unfortunately, it's not, and for me that soils the experience. The cowl is super high and the windshield is practically a slit. Somewhere between the two lies a humongous rearview mirror. (Can the OnStar buttons go somewhere else?)

End result: not a ton of forward visibility, and that's with the seat on the floor. I'm 5-foot-8, so it's not like I'm Shorty the Wonder Dwarf, either.

Add in the pretty mediocre visibility over both shoulders and to the rear, and personally I found this to be a slightly nervous ride--kinda like the 370Z. While it's awesome to drive and has the power to get past anything, there's always that niggling feeling that the whole experience could be better if I could see the whole road. I know, a novel concept. If this car was the size of the RX-8, it would rule over just about everything.

On the plus side, this one seemed screwed together better than the last one. The seats are also comfortable and supportive enough for spirited street driving. I dig the retro dash. I even like the steering wheel. Great headlights.

The interior fit, finish and details aren't quite as nice as the latest Buick and Caddy we drove, but they're light years ahead of those in the Solstice. GM has been making some gains.

Final comments: Make it a bit smaller and lighter, and it would be a winner. Does a Camaro need to hit the 4000-pound mark?

Tom Heath Tom Heath
UberDork

Call me power hungry, but this example was a huge improvement over the V6 model we tested earlier. Its 436 horsepower can pardon a lot of sins, and the Camaro in SS trim does a better job of disguising its massive bulk than most. The steering feel and suspension damping felt surprisingly good; I'd say it feels a bit like a taller BMW. The Camaro SS was about as much fun to hoon around in as anything I've ever driven.

The Camaro doesn't seem ideally suited as a competition car, though. The low roofline and high seat position necessary to see over the hood makes helmet use surprisingly tricky. It's a shame, because the car is a ton of fun to drive hard. An aftermarket seat should help a lot, but for a dual-purpose daily driver it's a drawback.

Aside from the low roof, I don't have any complaints about this Camaro's interior. The fit, finish and feel of the SS was a noticeable improvement over the Solstice and even the last Camaro we tried.

There's a lot to like with this flavor of the new Camaro, but I'm holding off on a must-buy recommendation for now. I can happily say that more power wouldn't really improve this car, but if they could magically lop off about 800 pounds, I'd knock off a bank to pay for one.

Steve Chryssos Steve Chryssos
Reader

From the curb, the fifth gen appears to be as large as an SUV--especially when parked next to my first gen. GM platform sharing yields some packaging and ergonomic compromises. For example, the cowl is tall, but the headroom is challenged. As such, you cannot raise the seat to look over the cowl without contacting the headliner. But minor issues are better than no Camaro at all--car critics be damned!

The car's shortcomings are easy to forget. I chirped the tires in both second and third gears many times. I never once thought, "Hmm, why is the cowl so tall?" All I could think is, "More! This is the MORE part of the show. Let's do that again." Handling, braking and acceleration are all impressive. As long as you keep moving, the new Camaro SS starts to shrink. If they can modify the seat and/or the headliner for improved ergonomics, I will step up to the plate and buy one. Actually, I'll just fix those problems myself. That's what hotrodders do. And the new Camaro is definitely a hotrod. Make mine red--no, silver!

Scott Lear Scott Lear

The Camaro just isn't my kind of car. I didn't find much to like about the V6 model we had a while back, but a muscle car without the muscle is fighting with its hands tied behind its back. You'd think the 400-plus-horsepower V8 would be able to deliver a knockout punch, but the SS is just a faster version of a car I'm not really interested in.

The Camaro is a dark cave inside, and if 5-foot-7-inch Tom couldn't get a helmet on in our non-sunroof model, what chance do I have at 6 feet 3 inches? And David's not crazy about the huge rearview mirror, either, as I had to lean over about a foot just to see where I was going on the off-ramp from I-95 to International Speedway Blvd.

The LS V8 has plenty of oomph, but 4000 pounds can suck a lot of fun out of those ponies. It's nice to know that it's got big Brembo brakes, because that's a lot of mass to arrest in any kind of hurry. The gigantor wheels add to the sluggishness. And the oversized steering wheel and shift knob are the interior design equivalents of Tim Allen grunting at something. Okay, it's overt and manly, but is it actually doing anything useful?

It did seem better put-together than our first example, but there was a pretty bad buzz from the right door panel when the stereo emitted any measure of volume. If Kia can get this kind of basic quality control stuff right, why can't GM?

It's refreshing to read Steve's comments, however, as this new Camaro was made for him, not me. I'm not sure the new Camaro will attract anybody who isn't already in love with Camaros when the walk into the dealership, though.

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

There is a lot not to love about this new Camaro. It is much bigger and heavier than it needs to be. The visibility isn't great (though not as bad as in a 370Z). Also, the rearview mirror makes me want to do my best Raul Julia impression--"What is behind us is not important!"--as it blocks vision through the windshield, obscuring nearly anything past the centerline of the car. But as much as this car annoys me, I can't help but like it.

The Camaro SS feels composed, very comfortable, exceptionally solid, and it flat out hauls ass. All of the major controls fall easily to hand. The positions of the shifter, wheel and pedal are nicely placed, so you can get comfortable and confident quickly and easily. Headroom is an issue, but without the sunroof I'm pretty sure I could fit inside with my helmet on--with the seat at its bottom-most position. Of course, I'm a lanky 5-foot-8, so you circus freakish tall people probably won't fit too well. Hmm, on second thought, maybe Chevy should lower the seat a bit.

I have no complaints about the dynamic qualities of the car. The steering is delicate but accurate, and the shifter and clutch are amazingly easy and light, especially considering the massive power under the hood. And speaking of under the hood, this version of the awesome LS series flat out rips. Not only is it a powerhouse, but it likes to rev, and the sound is fantastic. Hearing this V8 at full song is a glorious experience. Unfortunately, you won't go unnoticed. The Camaro's cartoonishly brawny good looks attract a ton of attention, some good, some bad. In any case, this is no Q ship.

Although I love parts of this new Camaro and wouldn't try to talk anyone out of one, for me there is a better choice in GM's stable. I'd keep the fantastic driving dynamics and killer engine, but I'd lose the over-the-top styling and cramped rear seat. Heck, I'd also add two more doors and a big trunk while adding no more weight. Sure, the Camaro is fun, but to me the Pontiac G8 GXP makes a whole lot more sense.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
Shaun
Shaun HalfDork
1/4/10 7:55 p.m.

I love the 68, but a live rear axle is in fact, 40 year old technology.

confuZion3
confuZion3 UltraDork
1/4/10 10:17 p.m.

I love the video! Great job, guys!

(JG, were you out of Kahlua when you filmed this one?)

Quasi Mofo
Quasi Mofo MegaDork
1/5/10 6:52 a.m.

As the Camaro starts becoming mainstream and more and more have been rolled by mommas little boys I expect to see them as a perfect donor car for the ultimate roadster kit car. Maybe it is time for Factory Five to start working on a Grand Sport replica?

Scott Lear
Scott Lear
1/5/10 8:52 a.m.

I like the way John Brown thinks!

jstein77
jstein77 SuperDork
1/6/10 9:20 a.m.

Shaun - Tell that to Ford; the Mustang's still got one.

Mitchell
Mitchell UltraDork
1/6/10 4:08 p.m.

I would like to see the new Camaro with smaller wheels on it. Can we expect to see factory 24's within a few years?

miwifri
miwifri New Reader
1/10/10 3:13 p.m.

A big heavy car with poor head room, small rear seat, poor visibility and small luggage space makes it difficult to look twice. What were they thinking? John Brown's idea is a good one.

Steve Chryssos
Steve Chryssos Reader
1/10/10 5:13 p.m.

They were thinking..... "Crap! The only way to bring back the Camaro is by platform sharing with a large Australian RWD sedan...." It's the same logic used by all of the big three. The Challenger is the worst of the bunch. The Mustang architecture is almost as bad. Plenty of parts are available to modernize a svelte 1979 Camaro or Firebird for AI, AIX or CP

CagleRacing
CagleRacing New Reader
1/17/10 7:23 p.m.

I drove a yellow Bumble Bee SS (Transformers edition) at the MotorTrend car show. The weight of this car clearly took away from the extra horses. I'm 6'1" and had some difficulty seeing out the windshield, especially when making hard right turns. Because of the cool factor, it was somewhat fun to drive; however, I won't buy one when similar money can buy a slightly used C6 Corvette.

jstein77
jstein77 SuperDork
1/22/10 2:15 p.m.

It would be interesting to run both Steve's '68 and the new Camaro around a known course like the Ocala GP and compare times.

Shaun
Shaun HalfDork
1/24/10 11:32 p.m.

I have seen a few of these fat ugly POS boats in the flesh now and I cant stand them. they look even worse in the fat addled flesh. Same with the Challenger. The are bloated focus group driven piles of watered down echo of yesteryear excrement. The Cobalt SS is much more in the spirit of yesteryear.

And , yes jstien, I told that to Ford. That the mustang dropped the IRS and went BACKWARDS to a solid year axle is utterly embarrassing. And they sell like hot cakes and end up puttering around in traffic jams. So ultimately the problem is that the market is idiotic. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, "so it goes".

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
2/3/10 1:10 a.m.

So...it doesn't turn into a giant robot?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

Our first taste of the all-new Chevy Camaro was the tame yet certainly more-than-adequate V6 model. Now we have finally spent time with the Camaro SS, 6.2-liter V8 and all. Our test car was even blessed with the available TR6060 six-speed manual transmission. It's like someone upstairs likes us.

The SS adds the goodies aimed right at our market. In addition to the 426-horsepower engine, the car also comes standard with Brembo brakes and a limited-slip differential. With that equipment comes a weight penalty, though, as GM lists the SS at 3849 pounds. (The V6 car is still a far-from-flyweight 3719 pounds.)

Our test car also featured the $1200 RS package, which adds 20x8-inch front and 20x9-inch wheels, HID headlamps and the RS tail lamps. The car's only other option was the polished wheels, a $470 splurge.

Sadly, it didn't sport the Transformers Special Edition Package. According to the Chevy Web site, this $995 option adds a "unique Transformers rally stripe in black, Autobot shield wheel center caps, Transformers sill plates, Autobot shield embroidery on center console armrest, and Autobot shield exterior badging." It's only available with the Rally Yellow hue.

So, how does the Camaro SS go? Quickly. Check the video and staff comments for details.

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