By on March 31, 2014

ttac1

The Victory Red 2013 Camaro Super Sport that awaited me on the third floor of what I still think of as the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s “new” rental car facility was not my preferred choice. It was, instead, the vehicle that had appeared at that perfect intersection of my desire to drive something fun during my brief trip home and my own innate frugality. It was, I thought, a good-enough-for-who-it’s-for kind of car, a convenient compromise made possible by a friendly rental agent who had offered it to me for the low-low rate of just $100 per day. But now as I approached it and saw first-hand the car’s cartoonish silhouette, its low roof line, its impossibly high windowsills and its over accentuated, nee, bulging curves, – a modern, steroid-era rethink that has changed car design in the same way that the grotesquely overdeveloped bodies of professional wrestlers have usurped the rightful place of Michelangelo’s David as the embodiment of the perfect male form – I wondered if I shouldn’t have suppressed my frugality just long enough to drop the extra cash for a BMW 5 series.

Of course, I had known when I struck the deal just what I would be getting. Camaros aren’t exactly exotic and I’d seen plenty on the street. Although I had yet to drive one, I had sat in one during a visit to my local dealership a year or two ago and so I knew that being in the Camaro was a little like sitting in an uncomfortably tall bathtub. Time had muted that feeling but, as I opened the door and slipped behind the wheel, that impression returned with real force.

012

The Camaro is not like my little cute-ute or the family minivan and, as I sat in it, I had my doubts about my ability to make myself comfortable in what I looked like a fairly small and restricted cabin. After some simple adjustments, however, I found the interior of the car a nice place to be. The leather seats were a tad too low for my taste, I prefer to sit up high and to have my seat back almost bolt-upright. But thanks to the power seats’ wide range of adjustability I was able to make myself comfortable without much trouble. The seats themselves were quite supportive and, although they were deeply dished with high side bolsters, I never felt like I was too big – or too wide – to fit. Leg room was very good and this was the first time in a long time that I haven’t had to have my seat all the way against the rear stops in order to be comfortable.

001

Taking stock of my surroundings, I noted that the inside of the car was well-appointed and very well put together. I spent a lot of time looking for imperfections and didn’t find anything of note. The stitching on the seats and the leather dash cover were flawless and the various panels all fit together without any annoying gaps or spaces. The controls were well placed and everything my hand touched felt good under my fingers. On the downside, the gauges, specifically the plastic bezel that surrounded them, looked cheap. Also, I was not especially enamored with the gold-colored hard plastic on the console and I noted that the one in my car had several nasty, deep scratches, indicating to me that this surface may become an unsightly problem after a few years of normal use. The radio was easy to use and although I never really cranked it up, it sounded passable. The climate controls, which looked a lot like a 1980’s boom box I once owned, were retrotastic tacky but easy to figure out and intuitive to use as well.

2013 camaro SS

2013 camaro SS

The view out of the car was much more of a mixed bag. The high windowsills, something I was really dreading, had almost zero effect on my overall driving experience. Thanks to all the liquid sunshine, I never felt the urge to put my elbow on the windowsill. Visibility out the front was, despite A pillars almost as big around as my leg, surprisingly good. Even the car’s low roofline did not prove to be a problem, and I didn’t need to duck my head to see out, as I did when I sat in the last iteration of this car back in the 90s. The high hood and low seat position did make it hard to judge where the front of the car was and, while this was never a problem while I was out on the road, it made me feel especially vulnerable while moving around at slow speeds in parking lots.

The view out the back was a flat mess, with noticeable blind spots on both rear quarters made worse by small sport bike-esque  sideview mirrors. The interior mirror was just as bad and, although it was large enough to block out an entire car at a four-way stop, it offered only a panoramic view of the tiny rear window framed by the car’s package tray and interior trim parts. At the very least, the car I drove was equipped with a back up monitor that I much appreciated, but since it only worked while I was backing up, I needed to exercise extra caution before making lane changes on the highway.

004

The drive between the Sea-Tac airport and Snohomish takes about an hour, and uses the same roads that I once spent great amounts of time traversing as a part of my daily commute. Generally, the roads are in good shape and I whisked my way northward without incident in a car that I had already determined I really didn’t care for. The steering felt heavy but precise and the car’s big, wide tires seemed to find every imperfection in the pavement. Still, despite the fact that I hit almost every bump for 50 miles, I simply could not find fault with the way the Camaro drove. The suspension felt perfect, firm but never rough or jarring, and the car motored up the freeway with only the steady drum of tires on pavement finding their way into the interior.

After a stop at my mother’s house in Monroe, I decided to take the Camaro up into the hills, to those roads that I have written about on these pages so often, where I determined that I would, once and for all, ring the snot out of it. On the climb up and out of the valley, I noticed the first thing I felt was a real problem with the car, a transmission that seemed devoted to fuel mileage rather than performance. The car was constantly looking to up shift as quickly as possible, and I caught it several times lugging the engine at lower speeds on the flats or failing to downshift on grades. The answer to my problem was, of course, to put the car into manual mode and control the shifts myself via the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel. I had hated the Autostick in my 300M and seldom used it, but the paddles on the Camaro worked well and gave crisp shifts as I ran up through the gears. I was more reluctant about manual downshifts and engine braking with an automatic, but I soon found that the car handled most of the downshifts on its own, leaving me solely responsible for the up shifts or on those few occasions when I needed to downshift to bump up the revs.

021

I’m not going to say I went crazy out there, the roads were wet and in the decades since I left the hills hundreds of new homes have been built where once only woodland creatures walked, but the Camaro handled itself well on the twistiest of what were once my own personal twisties. With 426 horsepower under the hood, this is hands-down the most powerful car I have ever driven, and it should have been easy to get the car out of shape, but that never happened. Despite the wet surface, the wide tires clung to the road with real tenacity and the big brakes were always quick and accurate when hauling the car down from high speed. On my favorite stretch of road, the one with the curve known locally as “devil’s elbow,” the Camaro set such a blistering pace that I could hardly believe how slow my old Shadow and 200SX felt in comparison.

In the days that followed, I took the Camaro out into the hills at every opportunity and soon I noticed a strange thing happening. Little by little, I began to connect with the car. Just like when I still rode sport bikes, there came a point where the machine just fell away and I found myself working the vehicle automatically while my mind ranged out ahead of my forward progress. One mile at a time the Camaro and I began to gel, and I realized that what I had originally believed to be major faults with the car were just tiny little annoyances that were wiped away by everything the car does right.

005

On Saturday morning at 3:00 AM, I rolled out of my brother’s modest abode and made the hour drive back down to Sea-Tac. The rain had abated, and the pavement on Interstate 405 was mostly bare and dry. This time, the roar of the car’s tires did not bother me and somewhere within it, if I cocked my head just right, I could recognize the sound of the engine as I motored smoothly down the freeway. From my seat I looked out through the windshield and across the broad, bulging hood as the road rushed towards me and wondered why it was exactly that I had decided not to like the car in the first place.

The Camaro SS is one of those cars that makes no secret of what it is. It is a Mr. Hyde who does not hide behind the facade of Doctor Jekyll, an Incredible Hulk free to roam about with no concern for Dr. Bruce Banner. It is the monster in its purest form, loud, brash and in your face, even if it is overwrought. Chevrolet has built something amazing here – maybe it just took me a little longer than some to realize it.

014

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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83 Comments on “Rental Car Review: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Those moments when, as cliche as this sounds, a machine becomes an extension of you, and all the silly stuff like the grain on the plastic of the lower console becomes a non-factor are always great. Good story.

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    “From my seat I looked out through the windshield and across the broad, bulging hood as the road rushed towards me and wondered why it was exactly that I had decided not to like the car in the first place.”

    Pull over, get out and look at it again. You’ll remember.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      How can you forget a car as ugly as the Camaro is? I think back to the old ones and have to shake my head and think, “How did this get approved?”. I hope the upcoming one is a huge improvement, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s not another “butitsugly” car. I have zero complaints about the Camaro, except for it’s looks. I don’t like the dash much either, but then again, I didn’t like it much on the 2 Camaros and Firebirds I owned in the past either, but I got used to it because I really liked the looks of the outside.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So how about power? Enough? True muscle car or modern day Monte Carlo?

    • 0 avatar
      ZCD2.7T

      Depends on what you mean by “muscle car”….

      If you mean a tire-shredding torque monster, then no.

      If you mean a car with a big V-8, then yes, sorta.

      It didn’t feel like a muscle car to me…..

      • 0 avatar
        Cirruslydakota

        I thought the auto equipped Camaro was saddled with “just” 400hp vs the manual trans equipped model with 426? (I believe due to the auto models having DOD) Unless GM has changed it recently I believe that’s still the case.

        My parents have a Black on Black 2010 2SS model and honestly I hate driving it simply because of the tiny outside mirrors, the blind spots provided by the thick C pillars and insanely tiny rear side windows. It ruins the entire driving experience for me. This is one place where the Challenger got it right with the rear windows along with the S197 Mustangs truck like mirrors on the 05-09 models.

        • 0 avatar

          I got the exact number off Chevy’s website. Perhaps I should have read it in more detail. My butt dyno told me there was plenty of power there, though.

          • 0 avatar
            tuffjuff

            “The 6.2L V8, paired with the standard 6-speed manual transmission, offers 426 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. Or opt for the high-tech combination of speed and efficiency of the 6-speed automatic transmission with Active Fuel ManagementTM. It offers 24 MPG highway and delivers 400 horsepower.”

      • 0 avatar
        thunderjet

        I bet it would be more of a tire burner with either the traction control turned off or, even better, a high stall torque converter. The torque converter would make a big difference. Unfortunately it would also kill gas mileage.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    When I drove one, I was unable to overlook the very issues the author forgives. Cheap and tacky interior, severely compromised visibility and cartoonish styling.

    The real-world acceleration isn’t all that, either – the engine needs lots of revs before delivering the sort of longitudinal g-forces one would expect from a hulking V-8.

    Bring on the (rational) redesign!

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @zcd – From your screen name I would guess you are an Audi driver? The “issues” you have are exactly what makes this car appealing to it’s target market. It’s a style car, not meant to compete with Germany’s finest but to beat them down with American brashness. If you don’t like how it looks, or if you care about the interior materials and visibility, then you just don’t get it and probably never will.

      Don’t get me wrong, I understand some of your points. I do wish they would make the interior a little nicer, and the overall size a little smaller. But I also understand why GM made the car the way they did, who they are trying to appeal to, and at what price points.

      • 0 avatar
        ZCD2.7T

        I do drive an Audi, though my screen name refers to a previous A6. My current ride is an S4…

        So, you’re saying that the target market prefers a car with cheap plastics, very limited visibility and power that only really makes itself known at high revs? Really?? That’s what pony-car buyers WANT, or that’s what they ACCEPT?

        This formula (pony/muscle car) has been done better by almost every other company that offers one, IMO. I like muscle cars – I just don’t like the compromises that the Camaro’s design forces…

        • 0 avatar
          Lemmiwinks

          Every one of the “sacrifices” this car makes in the name of its look are totally acceptable to folks like myself, because how this machine looks is roughly 40-50% of its appeal. The visibility is fine.

          Yes, interior materials aren’t stellar. (Though they aren’t nearly as bad as you make them out to be, imho.) But find me another 400+ HP vehicle that can be had new for a $33K MSRP. Our S4 at home rang up at roughly $20K more than that. It’s a supremely nicer place to sit in. Fun to drive as well, in its own way. But it’s no Camaro.

          “you’re saying that the target market prefers a car with cheap plastics, very limited visibility and power that only really makes itself known at high revs? Really?? That’s what pony-car buyers WANT”

          Yes. Why? Fun. For reference: Go drive a go-kart around a muddy track. Or an ATV across a sand dune. The feeling that you’re pushing a machine to its limits is some kind of sublime. Driving a Camaro as it’s meant to be driven engenders a slight seat-of-your-pants experience that is usually reserved for people who can only afford a substantially higher price point. And all the little niggling details that annoy folks like yourself have a way of becoming endearing.

          I do not mean to insult your taste. I believe I may even share much of it. Mine is just apparently more varied. : )

          • 0 avatar
            ZCD2.7T

            “…find me another 400+ HP vehicle that can be had new for a $33K MSRP….”

            Mustang GT.

            My tastes are pretty varied, too: We also own a Kia Soul and an Acura MDX. I really enjoy driving both of them.

          • 0 avatar
            Lemmiwinks

            “Mustang GT”

            Yeah, but it’s a damn Mustang. : )

            My point stands across all current muscle cars: They’re all in the same range. They all appeal (perhaps even primarily) on image/style. They all make sacrifices on visibility in the name of said style. And they all run with interiors that some may find low-rent in the name of spending more on performance.

            Oh, and I love the Soul. If they made a performance variant, I might’ve had that instead of the Juke Nismo.

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            Sorry, can’t help myself. But someone with a screen name of Lemmiwinks being accepting of the cave like visibility… it’s a bit much.

          • 0 avatar

            > The feeling that you’re pushing a machine to its limits is some kind of sublime. Driving a Camaro as it’s meant to be driven engenders a slight seat-of-your-pants experience

            Does anyone really drive these things to the limit? The limits with such large tires and massive power are quite high; like, straight to jail high.

          • 0 avatar
            Lemmiwinks

            Not necessarily at the limit. But the car’s tail happy nature, relatively less-sophisticated steering, weight, and the way it delivers its power makes it *feel* like your approaching a limit. Especially on very twisty mountain roads.

            It’s just fun.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          Its not what they prefer or what they accept, its that they simply don’t care. People buy the Camaro because they want a Camaro, they love the look, the style, the attitude. They don’t sit in it and compare it to a car that costs 30-60% more and then say it isn’t as nice. They aren’t cross-shopping BMWs, they aren’t even cross-shopping Hondas. As for power, the SS, even in auto form, doesn’t feel remotely slow or underpowered to most people, even the V6 models are pretty quick cars to regular drivers. The only people who could possibly complain about the power are car reviewers who drive tons of different cars and people who are used to tuned turbo engines that deliver a lot of low end grunt. If the Camaro had the look, interior, and driving feel of an Audi S5 then it wouldn’t appeal to a Camaro guy nor would it appeal to an Audi guy. Look at what happened to the GTO.

          The target market for the Camaro, or any pony car, is regular people, not the car guys. The base models are in the low $20s, cheap enough for most people to get one. The big motor versions are there for the fanbois and the profit margins. They are not going to win a significant number of buyers over from real sports cars or import sports sedans no matter what they do. They make plenty of money off the existing legions of fans… Mustang guys are not converting to Chevy, Mopar guys wouldn’t be caught dead in a Ford, and GM guys are the same way. The pony car, the muscle car, it’s not the future, they are not going to all of a sudden decide that FWD and small displacement turbos are a waste of time and bring back RWD V8s. There is no practical reason to get a muscle car over a more modern type of car, its all emotion. These cars are retro by definition and there is very little reason to make them into anything different than they already are.

          So like I said, you either get it or you never will.

          • 0 avatar
            ZCD2.7T

            I understand the appeal of cars like the Camaro, and I don’t expect it to rival more expensive cars in materials, fit or finish. However, it would be nice if the materials, fit and finish were noticeably better than those in our $19K Kia Soul. They’re not, IMHO.

            My point is that the design includes compromises that could have been “designed out” from the beginning. To me, it’s sad that GM didn’t do better. I really hope the next version is a modern, no-compromises muscle car.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            “My point is that the design includes compromises that could have been “designed out” from the beginning.”

            I feel the same way. I always wondered how the car’s interior gained approval for production and I hope the next generation will come with a better interior.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            Thats not a bad comparison, to the Soul. But why should it have better interior plastics? The soul is $19k, the Camaro is a $22k car. And it comes with almost double the HP from a high tech V6 engine, an almost bespoke RWD chassis, better brakes, better seats and that signature aggressive styling. And let’s not even get started on the resale value between the two.

            I don’t think there has ever been a Camaro with a higher quality interior than whatever contemporary compact or mid-sized cars GM was selling at the time, why would that change now? What other $22k car has an interior that is significantly better? Not the current Mustang. Not the Challenger. I think they will all be getting an upgrade at the next redesign, but even then the styling isn’t going to change much. And the current interior really isn’t bad… no worse than other cars in that price range. I see a lot of whining about the styling, but they were going for a retro look, for better or for worse that’s what they got.

          • 0 avatar
            Alexdi

            > They aren’t cross-shopping BMWs, they aren’t even cross-shopping Hondas.

            I did.

            > Look at what happened to the GTO.

            The GTO was a bar of soap on wheels. There was nothing particularly appealing about the handling, performance, comfort, or materials. It was a mediocre effort and the sales figures reflected it.

        • 0 avatar
          SubliminalSanctuary

          I agree with most of what you’re saying. However, I’m just wondering why you felt the acceleration wasn’t great, especially seeing as you drive an S4. All s4s I’ve driven (b5, b7, b8, some lightly modded) have been pretty lackluster acceleration wise, and the SS puts down much better numbers as far as acceleration and ‘seat of the pants’ feeling imo. I used to drive a 2006 Mustang Gt – granted, with bolt ons, i.e. cai/tune, exhaust, 3.73s – and these SS would still pull a bit one me. When my ’06 GT was stock it was still a bit (1/2 to 1 car length) faster than all the s4s I drove, and I wouldn’t exactly call the 06 GT ‘fast’ as it was stock.

          • 0 avatar
            ZCD2.7T

            “…I’m just wondering why you felt the acceleration wasn’t great, especially seeing as you drive an S4…”

            I dunno, maybe my expectations were too high? I’m not the first person to comment that the V-8 needs revs before it really delivers, and that’s the opposite of what I expect from a V-8.

            Stock to stock the SS and my B8 S4 are pretty close – roughly 13 flat in the 1/4 mile. Mine is lightly modded (ECU flash, intake) and now runs 12.4xx. In addition, the throttle response of the supercharged 3.0T motor has completely spoiled me – it’s right there, all the time. I know that it sounds crazy to suggest that a 3 liter motor is more responsive than a 6.2 (…”no replacement for displacement” and all that), but those are my impressions. (shrug)

          • 0 avatar
            SubliminalSanctuary

            All the B8s I’ve seen running are in the mid to high 13′s stock – more on par with the 2005 to 2009 mustang gt’s than the new ss’s. However, this could obviously be due to driver skill (especially on the launch) and most of the ones I’ve seen run are most likely stock. As far as power delivery, I actually agree with you that the 3.0 is more responsive down low – it has been awhile since I’ve been behind the wheel of one.
            Good on you for running mid 12′s with those mods – maybe I have to give the b8s another look when at the track. The drivers in my area must be babying them.

          • 0 avatar
            ZCD2.7T

            Maybe the S4s you’ve seen have been 6-speed manuals? Those are tougher to launch well, and tend to be a couple of tenths slower on average than DSG (dual-clutch) cars like mine.

            Motor Trend got 13.0 in their last test of a DSG-equipped S4.

          • 0 avatar
            SubliminalSanctuary

            Not sure, I’ll have to ask next time I’m out there, which isn’t much these days. I did see that MT road test – impressive numbers stock for sure, and you gotta love those underrated German HP numbers. The last B8 I saw at the track was about a year and a half ago and it ran a best of 13.1 if I remember correctly, still not too shabby of a time. My 06 Mustang GT was running an average of 12.9 around that time, but I didn’t get to run him directly. I’ll have to go take a test drive of a 2014 s4 sometime and see if it’s how I remember it.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      The Camaro is the best seller in its segment, whether you like it or not.

    • 0 avatar
      Alexdi

      I had an identical impression of the 2010 version of this car. It felt big and bunkerish. Visibility was decent forward and terrible in every other direction. Dash materials that you wouldn’t find in a $15K Fiesta, nevermind a Chevrolet for twice the price. Overboosted steering with very little centering. Rough engine without much torque low in the tach.

      I’d decided I didn’t like it a half-mile into the test drive and spent the rest of it chatting with the salesguy.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    “The Camaro SS is one of those cars that makes no secret of what it is. It is a Mr. Hyde who does not hide behind the facade of Doctor Jekyll, an Incredible Hulk free to roam about with no concern for Dr. Bruce Banner. It is the monster in its purest form, loud, brash and in your face, even if it is overwrought.”

    Thomas, sorry but this thing is still an overwrought monstrosity aimed at the most crass amongst the mid-life crisis set. A down market Corvette, if you will. The irony being that the original Camaro was a sublime, understated design. This thing is like an HDR-version of the Mona Lisa.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “Thomas, sorry but this thing is still an overwrought monstrosity aimed at the most crass amongst the mid-life crisis set.”

      Gee, couldn’t you just say I don’t like the car and give your reasons?

    • 0 avatar

      > The irony being that the original Camaro was a sublime, understated design.

      The new Camaro isn’t an homage to the original, but the testosterone infused later versions.

  • avatar
    leshnah

    Awesome review… A car lots of people can actually hope to afford! A “possible” car if you will, written by a regular guy.
    Comes to show how spoiled most reviewers in big magazines are: “oh the stitching oh this oh that”
    Thomas’ review comes from a regular guy, giving it, in my eyes at least, credibility.
    The car is the vehicle of choice for soccer players over here in Chile: ie., not very appealing. I like the Mustang better, but Thomas is right: Chevy has created a 426HP four seater that makes no secret of what it is, and for that, for being an honest car, is that I like it.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    I’ve always wondered what is the cost difference between “cheap” plastic and luxury plastic. Would customers really balk if the car cost a couple hundred more but the dashboard didn’t look like it was made of the same plastic as a polystyrene 1:24 model car?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I don’t really blame GM for making the bezels out of material that is obvious plastic. Other manufacturers have gone out of their way to stamp IP bezels out of metal, like in the current Dodge Charger, and few seem to really give a sh1t. It’s a really nice detail and has the feel of quality, but I get the feeling that they’re not getting the customer appreciation out of it versus the increased cost.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        Couldn’t GM use a better grade of plastic? The interior design is sub-par. Why are engine gauges tucked in behind the shifter? The speedo and tach binnacle remind me of a u-boat arcade game I played as a kid–the one where you had to look through a periscope.

        The design is half baked but obviously fell into favor with focus groups and Chevy designers. GM has proven it can do very good interiors evidenced by C7 and Cadillac. Please, for all that is holy, inject some of that into the next generation of this car.

        • 0 avatar

          I didn’t spend any time talking about the gauges because, frankly, I didn’t spend much time looking at them while I was driving. The reason they are placed where they are is because that’s where Chevrolet placed them back in the day, but they are useless down there and the only time I might have thought to look at them would have been if an idiot light had told me to.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Thomas is correct, the placement of the gauges by the shifter is deliberately retro, going back to 60′s car.

        • 0 avatar
          epsilonkore

          I have a friend who helped to develop the Kappa twins (Sky-that I owned at the time – and Solstice) that were also bashed in reviews, and reality for cheap plastic interiors. When I asked him why they “couldnt do better” he said “On a car at this price point that is a convertible, its hard to get squishy luxury plastics WITH UV and weather resistance at the requested price point”. The Camaro/Mustang suffer the same fate, they are coupe interiors that also have to double for convertible interiors…so instead of making a coupe with better quality plastics, they just make them both out of the same durable but cheap feeling weather proofed plastics that fit the target price. Note the Challenger has a much nicer grade of materials… possibly because it doesnt have a convertible counterpart forcing shared parts on it. As many of you above have talked about Audi S4 interiors being better… yeah… with another 20k you CAN do better and yet still have weather-able quality. Not that I know a soul who has ever cross shopped a new S4 and a new SS….

          • 0 avatar
            ZCD2.7T

            That’s interesting input regarding UV resistance and convertibles, and I appreciate that clarification.

            That said, nobody (including me) compared the Camaro’s interior quality with an Audi. I did compare it to our Kia Soul, which (despite a base price about 30% less than the Camaro – $15K vs. $22K) has materials which are as nice or nicer than the Camaro’s.

            In the end, the current Camaro just seems to me like a missed opportunity overall. It certainly has its high points, but it could have been so much better than it is…

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Organic, free-range, non-gmo, cruelty free, conflict free polystyrene. :^)

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “I’ve always wondered what is the cost difference between “cheap” plastic and luxury plastic.”

      Far less than you’d think, according to some industry professionals I’ve spoken to.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Like Tom, the new Camaro didn’t do much for me until I spent some time with one. After driving a 6 speed manual equipped SS for a while, the car really grew on me and is a blast to drive. I look forward to seeing what the next iteration will have in store.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Wait until the redesign Camaro on the lighter ATS platform.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I wanted a Camaro, but the “fit” of it, with the high window sills and small openings just killed it for me. It wasn’t blind spots; blind spots don’t bother me, it just didn’t fit right. Behind the wheel of the loaded SS all that was easy to forget, but when driving the base model V6 that was actually in my price range….. I couldn’t go for it.

    That, and the engine bay is pretty cramped, and that IRS is just more headaches down the line when all those bushings and CV joints wear.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    The Camaro is one of those cars where the haters gonna hate, and everyone else either loves it or not. The folks who b!tch about the seats, sightlines and all of the other shortcomings were never going to buy one anyway.

    I saw a 2014 V6 RS yesterday that could make me forget about any of the V8 ones. Not that 426 HP wouldn’t have it’s advantages, but it hasn’t been that long since we were jumping for joy when a stock vehicle made 300 HP, now it seems that it’s meh… This car had the nice alloys, a leather interior and the revised fascias front and rear with the chrome exhaust tips. Very pretty.

    I think I could live with the V6 version if it looked like that.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      And 0-60 in under 6 seconds. Not bad for a “base” car. Remember when that kind of speed used to be a big deal?

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        My 2.4L Ecotec Pontiac G6 has more horsepower than my 1983 Trans Am did. When I got my 1985 Mercury Capri RS 5.0L I think it had an 8 second 0-60 (IIRC).

        Even a Kia will outrun those cars now…

    • 0 avatar
      SomeGuy

      Not 300HP, but 323HP I believe. Almost as much as an E46 M3 and and 61% more than a FR-S.

      Oh, and lets not forget you can get into a base LS trim car with a manual for $22k.

    • 0 avatar
      thunderjet

      I’ve seen several V6/Auto Camaros run at the local track. They are 15.1-15.3 second cars at about 91-93mph with typical drivers. We complain that’s slow now. That’s kind of amazing to me.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The Zeta chassis really is a sweetheart. Great ride/handling balance, extremely controllable at or near the limit, lovely steering. I’m just glad that my version has four doors (which any car this huge ought to), a much lower beltline, and an equally cheap/tinny but much less ugly interior.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Ditto. And thankfully there are some great providers in the aftermarket industry that can enable you to dramatically improve the interior materials.

      Love my Zeta 4-door. Those E-39 engineers did a good job.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        They might be able to improve the materials, but it would be hard to improve the build quality. My G8 is a squeaky mess at only 32,000 miles. Both front seats squeak chronically, the dash has a squeak that manifests itself over uneven pavement, and there are numerous rattles. The interior noises are embarrassing and annoying, and make me seriously think about trading in the car even though I love it otherwise.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Oh, and a minor nit, Thomas — with the automatic, you didn’t have 426 horsepower, just 400. The automatic comes with cylinder deactivation, which brings a lower redline, which reduces the power rating.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Nice review. The people that I know who have a SS Camaro love them. It is not for me though. I find it interesting that sometimes on this site when a car is reviewed that if the reader doesn’t like the car personally sometimes their comments read as if the car should not exist.

    I like the Camaro from the standpoint that when I seen one I know the owner just doesn’t give a F@&!, and drives a car that is fun to them.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    I also had a one week rental in an SS. On the positives every drive felt like an occasion, something special even if just going to the supermarket.

    The transmission was truly awful, loving lockup so it never really felt powerful driving around. The V6 chrysler 300 I later rented was in driving downn the highway more responmsive ticling the throttle.

    Then on the Camaro when you did summon a downshift the motor went o scream mode, which sounnded like a fan mssing a blade more than anyhting, and yeah it was quick but not really fast. Althouh the gearing and transmission means it needs to rev to go fast, its not a happy rever and the power is blunted by the box. That and the cheapo renta car inetrior bits made me really wonder about Gm and how serious they are.

    If I were going for an auto retro msucle car, the dodge is a better choice in pretty much every way hands down, no question.

    I am sure though that a stick would feel a lot better, and maybe other versions have better rear end ratios. A ZL1 is even better still and changes the equation to seeing the Camaro a a world contender, the Z28 covers a lot of bases that no other american car currently does.

    As to styling, people love Zagatos, how is this any more outrageous. If it we a limited prod exotic it would be hailed. We want mass production cars not to be boring and meleted soap, well here is one, yeah its a bit cartoonish but considder the alternatives. GM took a show car and pretty faithfully productionised it, the result has been great sales despite its practical drawbaks, we need more of this.

    If you have driven the latest porches and ferraris then you know that despite their epic speed, these cars are bland and dissapointing in terms of driving pleasure, they are too safe too practical, and too nannyfied.

    The Canro is one of the last old school type cars, thts why despute the cheapo interior there is a z28 on order for me.

    Fact is the USA makes some pretty decent cars these days(as wella s crappy ones) and the camaro is no embarrasment.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    The following was so perfect as a commentary on modern design;

    ” But now as I approached it and saw first-hand the car’s cartoonish silhouette, its low roof line, its impossibly high windowsills and its over accentuated, nee, bulging curves, – a modern, steroid-era rethink that has changed car design in the same way that the grotesquely overdeveloped bodies of professional wrestlers have usurped the rightful place of Michelangelo’s David as the embodiment of the perfect male form – I wondered if I shouldn’t have suppressed my frugality just long enough to drop the extra cash for a BMW 5 series.”

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    These seem like silly cars to me. As big on the outside as a midsize sedan, but only comfortable for two, and as heavy or heavier as the hybrid version of the Fusion or Camry. It’s good to know it is at least fun to drive.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I’ve never driven an SS but when I sat in one I couldn’t get over the interior design and materials. The speedo and tach could be much better looking, the gauges placed behind the shifter should be around the speedo and tach and radio buttons are not my cup of tea. This along with the overall feel of the interior left me wanting.

    I did drive a ZL1 6MT. That car has so much powertrain goodness that I can forgive the poor interior design. The suede covered surfaces also help. If you haven’t driven one, call around and try to get something set up. The car left me with a permanent grin plastered to my face and is something I could see myself buying (orange w/black wheels please).

    The next iteration of this car on the Alpha platform should be very, very good. Hopefully the chintzy interiors will be a thing of the past. From what I’ve seen of the S550 Mustang interior, at a car show and in pics, it’s much better than the current car. If GM follows suit, delivering a well designed interior, using quality materials and proper fitment, all on a chassis that’s 400-500 lbs lighter the next car from base to higher trim versions should be very good.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Camaros are all over the place around here, whether on my commute or in my neighborhood and community. Where I live is very cosmopolitan, so this car clearly appeals to more than your rural inferred redneck clientele.

    Having the vision issues I do, driving one of these with its lack of outward visibility and blind spots would make me a danger to myself and others on the road. Trouble is, part of me wants one very much!

    I can’t kick too much, though, as my current ride is perfect for me, and 300 hp is nothing to be ashamed of, that’s for sure.

  • avatar
    johnny_5.0

    For the life of me I can’t understand why they haven’t bothered to integrate blind spot mirrors into the side view ones. Visibility out of the Mustang is light years better by design, but even there the integrated blind spot mirrors are most welcome. It’s such a simple change that helps immensely. Ford has done it across most of their lineup after starting with their trucks. I assumed Chevy would do it for the 2011 model after my first drive in a 2010, but 4 years of production has proved me wrong.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I don’t really like “Victory Red”. GM’s “Crystal Tintcoat”—available on most of its other cars—looks much better. But it’s not exactly befitting of a Camaro, I suppose. I also wish they had kept that original deep-dish steering wheel instead of switching to the corporate three-spoke unit for MY2012(?). And I’m surprised that your example lacked MyLink and that new frameless mirror…

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Thomas Kreutzer
    How does it compare to the Chev SS?

    It would be interesting to see how the Australian take on performance is compared to the US. Especially with two very similar chassis’s.

    Are you going to do a Chev SS review?

    It appears you aren’t overwhelmed with this Comaro.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t driven, and will probably never get a chance to drive, the Chevrolet SS so I really don’t have anything to compare it to.

      From the second I saw it, I thought I was going to hate this car but the truth is, that while I probably wouldn’t buy one for a commuter, I enjoyed using it for running around. I think that, if I were buying a car in this segment, I’d probably choose the Challenger, but I’d definitely drive them back to back before I signed on the dotted line. That alone should say that Chevrolet has done something right here, before renting it I wouldn’t have even thought about owning one.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        I’m in total agreement with you on this. I would drive the Camaro, Challenger and Mustang back to back and pick the car that was easiest to live with on a daily basis combined with most fun to drive if i was in the market for a muscle GT type car.

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          I did that, and the Challenger was the easy choice. Is it perfect? no way, but it looks good, the Camaro is hideous, IMHO, and well, I just don’t seem to be able to get past the memories of my dad’s POS Ford cars and my friend’s bad Bronco and F150 to be able to buy a Mustang. I’m not a big fan of the current and soon to be Mustang’s looks anyway. If the Camaro wasn’t so ugly, I would probably be driving one now. I have no big complaints when I sit in or drive a friend’s SS, but when I’m getting in or out of it, I shake my head. SO DAMN UGLY.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Do not tell anyone about the roads around Snohomish/Monroe. They are horrible, especially on a sportsbike. And it rains all the time up here. Go away. Plus everyone is a vegan hipster.

  • avatar
    ajla

    A family friend has a loaded 2SS and has been kind enough to let me drive it around a few times. Honestly, the Camaro was kind of tiring to drive (maybe because I was in someone else’s $40K car). A rental V6 version did not really light my fire either.

    I had more fun driving the new Regal Turbo or last gen Cadillac CTS, even though they are much slower. I guess I’m weird.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    Nice review. I agree with your notes on the gauges. GM must be using Fisher Price as tach supplier. It’s goofy looking, feels very cheap, and has the usual blue-green illumination. The center console is another sad piece to look at. It’s better than ever but it’s still a muscle car with a lack of a good brain.

  • avatar
    Daniel Latini

    Nice write-up, Thomas! Sounds like you enjoyed the car enough to rent again. Does this seem like a viable alternative for someone who wants more than the average midsizer, or is it too compromised for real-life?

    • 0 avatar

      I’d say it depends. If you are going someplace with open roads then yes, I think its a good choice for wide open vistas and cruising around. If you are going to be in the city or running around from parking lot to parking lot then I don’t think it’s the best choice.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ Thomas…. Yeah that pretty well also sums up my thoughts . I bought a new {1000 klms} 2011 2SS 6spd. The visability issues had to be the hardest part to deal with. Around town the Camaro was a major PIA.

    I owned it for 18 months, and only drove it in the good weather. I traded it in. I don’t regret buying it. I don’t regret trading it.

    Any car I’ve traded in never sits on the lot. I traded it in 6 weeks ago. The Camaro ? I thought it was sold. I drove by today. Its still sitting on the lot??? Low klms, never winter driven. I’m so glad I didn’t try selling it myself.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    I have been a Mustang fan since I was kid. That said I will always be grateful GM built this Camaro. Why? Because my now 13 year old son loves this thing with a passion. Every since the first transformers movie he has become a “car guy” all because of this car. Now he can name just about anything cool on wheels. His dream car is a 2010 SS in synergy green. Not my cup of tea but I really hope to see him driving his own someday! So I say lay off the car, if you don’t like it, don’t buy one.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    Great review, Thomas, mirrors my experience with the Camaro.

    From the very first extended drive of the new Camaro, A V-6/Manual, it felt like an old shoe. Everything fell easily to hand and worked smoothly. The SS only up the ante with the V-8′s 426Hp and a bit tighter suspension and bigger brakes.

    I have a long upper body and drive a Miata daily, so the Camaro was a comfortable situation for me.

    The first new Camaro I drove, was the SS, but it was only down to the service station for fueling. It was the first Camaro the dealership had and my go to guy at the dealership called me up to come on down and see it, the short drive just put icing on the cake.

    It sure got the looks on the drive and at the station. Several people left their offices and crossed the street to look at it. Soon there was a crowd and my guy was handing his card out.

    Drives of later and newer Camaros, have only affirmed my first experiences with the car. It’s good car, not a great one, but a lot of value and fun for the money in any form, whether V-6 or SS.

    A turbo charged V-6/manual would be a fun car to have. With available power from around 435Hp to well over 650Hp, and the milder forms retaining good MPG.

    I noticed you didn’t mention the L99′s AFM system. I still believe it has that system.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    I went to a local Chevy dealer to look at a Volt, and ended up testing a ZL1. 6M, 6.2 supercharged, that thing is a monster. Honestly thinking about it, sticker is 57K, but they are willing to deal…..


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