2010 Chevrolet Camaro RS new car reviews

Better than: A lot of other pony cars
But not as good as: Bumblebee
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 83.77

Since 1967 the Camaro has been an American icon. While it followed the Mustang to market, the Camaro wasted little time building a huge fan base. It remained one of the General's hottest properties through the '90s.

By the start of the new millennium, the Camaro had become dated and GM threw in the towel. The Mustang was the obvious winner in that war: While the Camaro and Firebird were retired, the Mustang continued to be a success story. It triumphed in nearly every arena, from professional road racing to rental car fleets.

The Camaro was gone but not forgotten, and GM has been teasing us for years. For a while now, the promise of an all-new Camaro has been merely inches away. Heck, it's been two solid years since the car made its big-screen debut in Transformers.

The new Camaro has finally come to the showrooms, and its arrival raises a few questions: Is it exactly what's needed to reignite public interest in a bankrupt GM, or is it a look back rather than a glimpse of the future? Does America need another stylish retro car, or should manufacturers spend their energy somewhere else?

We don't think GM could have predicted the current economic situation when they planned the Camaro's relaunch, but its timing is going to be a either blessing or a curse.

GM didn't stray too far from the pony car playbook when redoing the Camaro. There's a healthy engine up front--the wimpiest option is the 304-horsepower V6 found in our 2LT-package test car--that powers the rear axle. There is one thing that's not very traditional: According to the EPA, the V6 Camaro gets a very nice 29 mpg.

The cockpit definitely favors the front-seat passengers, although tall drivers may not want to opt for the sunroof. Unlike the most recent Camaro, this one also doesn't make too many demands on passengers. Getting in and out is now much easier, and the large hump found on the passenger's floor is gone. There's even a decent trunk.

The one thing we do miss is the traditional pony car rumble. The V6 is quick, but it's kind of quiet, too. Good or bad, the Camaro is a reminder that at one time the American auto industry kicked all the ass. Can they capture that bolt of lightning once again?

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

While out for a drive last night we passed a group of young boys. The youngest eagerly pointed at the Camaro as we drove by, obviously yelling something to his friends. I was impressed that someone born after Camaro production had stopped seven years ago still seemed excited about the car. Or he thought we were Bumblebee.

Okay, some initial impressions based on a quick drive:

  • Nice, meaty steering wheel. I know it sounds trivial, but I like a good wheel. The Camaro blows away the Challenger here.
  • I worry a bit about quality control. Our car is about to lose an A-pillar cover.
  • Lotta plastic inside. The CTS-V has nicer interior plastics, so we know that GM can do it.
  • The V6 is nice--smooth and torquey. Too bad it doesn't emit anything close to a tough exhaust note. Nice to see a good mpg rating, too.
  • The interior was obviously done by a designer and not an engineer. Not much head room and some big over-the-shoulder blind spots. Even the rearview mirror is bigger than needs; as a result, it blocks forward visibility.
  • I know that 20-inch wheels look cool, but they transmit NVH to the occupants. If only the car could be 7/8 as big and have normal-sized wheels and tires.
  • I like the controls. They feel nice and look cool. Hate to say this, but the HVAC controls felt as nice as those in the latest Kia that I drove. These days, that's a compliment.
  • I'm torn on the whole retro thing. It's neat that Big 3 aren't ignoring their roots, but it's a bummer that they can't do a modern take on the pony car.
Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

Call me a homer, but I can't help but root for GM. Fortunately, the new Camaro does more things right than wrong. Sure, the car is massive (it absolutely dwarfs the '67-'69 original) and heavy. It also feels big from behind the wheel--much bigger than the not-so-petite Mustang. Plus, it's difficult to see out of the narrow windshield and partially blind 3/4 quarter view. The view over the shoulder isn't as bad as the completely blind 370Z, but it isn't great either. Locating the corners of the car is difficult when driving. Sure, you may get accustomed to the restricted view, but you will never forget that you're driving a seriously large machine.

Speaking of driving, this car moves down the road in a refined manner never before witnessed in a Camaro. There are no squeaks or rattles, the ride is supple without being sloppy, and the steering transmits a decent amount of feel. The seats are comfortable, although taller folks may want to sit before they fall in love, as there seems to be a severe lack of head (or helmet) room for taller folks. Our tester was a sunroof-equipped model, so maybe the hard-tops will be more noggin friendly. Some of the other staffers complained about misfitted trim pieces, but the interior seems to be up to par with the car's Mustang/Challenger competition. I was actually pleasantly surprised with most of the interior materials, although some of the switches are horrendously cheap feeling.

Our car was equipped with massive wheels and tires, so smokey burnouts on dry pavement weren't really in the cards. In the wet, though, the V6 has more than enough juice to incinerate those big meats. The six-pot engine doesn't seem to produce much power until 3000 rpm or so, but once there it has more than ample grunt for an entry-level pony car. Keep in mind, this over 300-horsepower car is the slowest, least powerful Camaro available.

Personally I like the look of the new Camaro, although I wish it was 5/8 scale. To me there isn't an ugly line on the car, but the mass is intimidating. This car is a huge step up from the V6 Camaros of old, as it should be. With a third pedal, this could be a darn entertaining car. As it sits, it's a really nice cruiser--or a daily driver with a bunch of style for not a lot of bucks.

Scott Lear Scott Lear

The Camaro, at least in V6 automatic trim, is a decent cruising machine, has lots of styling touches inside and out, and looks very sharp in dark blue. I liked the HIDs on the RS package, and the sticky Pirellis were nice, but I could have done without the massive 20-inch wheels that are part of the same package. The suspension felt a bit overworked on bumpy roads.

Having never spent time with an older Camaro, I can't feel any particular nostalgia for the design choices they made. I'm sure some people will dig the gauge cluster that's forward of the gear selector, for example, but it seems to me like a pretty big visual gap from the windshield to glance at your transmission temperature.

The best average fuel economy we saw was about 23mpg, and that was after we reset it on the highway. At one point the average economy read 15.0mpg: pretty horrible for a V6. A 300hp car could be a lot of fun, but this one weighs so much that it's kinda pokey even in a straight line. It understeers at the limit, and the steering ratio is too slow for serious handling work. The automatic isn't quite as intelligent as it could be, but you do have the option of picking your own gears with buttons on the back of the wheel (the paddle elements are just for show).

Then come the bitter complaints: There's so little headroom that I don't think I could autocross one of these. While trying to remove the charger for a windshield-mount GPS, the entire center console (including those gauges) popped completely free. It popped right back in, sure, but usually you need a screwdriver--not a cigarette adapter--to disassemble a car. Visibility is the same gun-slit awful as many other retro-inspired cruisers, and the trunk opening is laughably small.

Hopefully we'll get a V8 manual soon, because this one was far from impressive. Credit to Joe for performing a successful burnout, however.

J.G. Pasterjak JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

I want to like it so much, but I can't. It's just not there yet. It has cool design elements, but they seem to exist apart from one another, and come together to form a car that looks not like it was inspired by the first Camaro, but poorly copied from it. The steering is slow, but communicates better than the Challenger, so that's a plus.

I guess we're just spoiled by so many good cars these days. There's just no excuse to build a car this mediocre. I'm simply not buying excuses like "but it's not a sports car" or "it's a pony car" for it being universally anonymous once you jump behind the wheel.

The new Mustang isn't perfect, but there's still something abut driving it that makes you smile. The Camaro and Challenger have tried to get by on their good looks, and it takes more than that to succeed.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/26/09 2:07 p.m.

Doh, rushed when typing. Yes, GM calls is a 4.5 link rear suspension. Maybe it's the short sidewalls, but it feels like a live axle when driving around.

Hasbro
Hasbro SuperDork
6/27/09 7:24 p.m.

No comments re. the suspension?

friedgreencorrado
friedgreencorrado UltimaDork
6/27/09 11:50 p.m.

Personally, I'm getting tired of the whole retro thing. Especially from US manufacturers. Ford's last T-birds (before their own retro fallback) were pretty good cars, and almost re-defined the American GT car. I hold the same opinion of the last gen Camaro. For $22K, I could buy a real `67 instead of a look-alike. As an American sportscar fan, I'm disappointed. I'd love to see cars from my country become the equal of cars from overseas..but all this looking backward instead of forward might explain why GM & Chrysler are in so much trouble right now. Just to be clear-I'm not a big fan of the current Mustang or Challenger, either. My 2cents...YMMV.

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
7/5/09 8:04 p.m.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The best pony car is a used Corvette. C5 Z06 for less than V6 Camaro money plus a Certified 2-year warranty on top of what's left of the original.

miwifri
miwifri New Reader
7/7/09 8:49 p.m.

I'm with P71. This thing is heavy, underpowered and has an automatic. It's all looks and no payoff. What's to like? Get a used 'Vette if you what muscle or a used S2000 if you want finesse. You will pay less money and have some real fun.

Moparman
Moparman Dork
7/8/09 8:20 p.m.

I like that Detroit looked back to its heritage for styling cues. Styling should be evolutionary. Complete revolutions are not necessary. Besides, I cannot think of a car in its price range (or within $20k) which looks as nice as the Mustang.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
7/10/09 9:37 p.m.

In the past, the Camaro was was considered by many to be better looking, and had more power at a lower cost. But the Mustang still outsold it. Now, the Camaro still has lots of power at great price and looks cool. But the Mustang looks great, is a great value, and versions like the Shelby GT500 are sex on wheels. I think it will be an interesting competition on the sales floor and the track!

sab123
sab123
7/19/09 3:49 a.m.

Come on, "modern looks"? Most of the automotive design since early 70s can be thrown away. It's garbage. It's nice that Detroit is finally returning to the good-looking cars and evolving from there. Though I'd say that the best-looking Camaro was the 2nd gen. As for Mustangs, I own an '88 one, it's an example of completely braindamaged engineering. I want to sell it and never buy another Ford ever again.

Rupert
Rupert HalfDork
8/23/10 1:47 p.m.

BIG did anyone say IT IS BIG, NO IT IS HUGE! How does any car this BIG end up so small and claustrophobic inside?

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

Since 1967 the Camaro has been an American icon. While it followed the Mustang to market, the Camaro wasted little time building a huge fan base. It remained one of the General's hottest properties through the '90s.

By the start of the new millennium, the Camaro had become dated and GM threw in the towel. The Mustang was the obvious winner in that war: While the Camaro and Firebird were retired, the Mustang continued to be a success story. It triumphed in nearly every arena, from professional road racing to rental car fleets.

The Camaro was gone but not forgotten, and GM has been teasing us for years. For a while now, the promise of an all-new Camaro has been merely inches away. Heck, it's been two solid years since the car made its big-screen debut in Transformers.

The new Camaro has finally come to the showrooms, and its arrival raises a few questions: Is it exactly what's needed to reignite public interest in a bankrupt GM, or is it a look back rather than a glimpse of the future? Does America need another stylish retro car, or should manufacturers spend their energy somewhere else?

We don't think GM could have predicted the current economic situation when they planned the Camaro's relaunch, but its timing is going to be a either blessing or a curse.

GM didn't stray too far from the pony car playbook when redoing the Camaro. There's a healthy engine up front--the wimpiest option is the 304-horsepower V6 found in our 2LT-package test car--that powers the rear axle. There is one thing that's not very traditional: According to the EPA, the V6 Camaro gets a very nice 29 mpg.

The cockpit definitely favors the front-seat passengers, although tall drivers may not want to opt for the sunroof. Unlike the most recent Camaro, this one also doesn't make too many demands on passengers. Getting in and out is now much easier, and the large hump found on the passenger's floor is gone. There's even a decent trunk.

The one thing we do miss is the traditional pony car rumble. The V6 is quick, but it's kind of quiet, too. Good or bad, the Camaro is a reminder that at one time the American auto industry kicked all the ass. Can they capture that bolt of lightning once again?

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