By on March 21, 2009

Today’s the day that the embargo on Camaro reviews ends. First, as a taxpayer, a big thank you to all the automotive publications and websites that abided by the terms of GM’s proscription. You’ve helped my corporate beneficiary concentrate its marketing firepower for maximum effect. Second, I want to re-iterate my suspicion—based on historical precedent—that all Camaros tested were “ringers” (specially built and prepared versions). And third, I’d like to point out that Detroit News carmudgeon Scott Burgess and I share something: we both hate people. OK, I hate the lies that people tell and Scott hates anyone who hates Detroit. I’ve said time and again that the number of people who actually care enough to hate Detroit is statistically irrelevant. But Scott’s world is constantly under imaginary assault from people who vilify the cars he loves. Which, needless to say, includes the new Camaro. Althoughly, strangely, Scott doesn’t bless with his 100 percent seal of approval. In fact, reading between the lines, the new Camaro’s not even a 90 percent car. First the ho-sannahs . . .

The new Camaro demonstrates how a muscle car can evolve — it may share its name with its predecessor but it offers a much smoother ride and more comfortable interior. The new Camaro is eerily quiet while cruising. The four-wheel independent suspension, as well as the car’s heft — it weighs 3,769 pounds at its lightest — smooth out the ride…

The Camaro felt remarkably agile on the road — perhaps a product of extremely sticky tires — 20-inchers on the SS and 18s on the base model LS. Whipping through a corner, the body stayed flat and the tires never lost their grip despite the power coursing through the rear axle.

In between those two heaps of praise (tagged “turnaround, GM, Chevy, triumphalism”)…

What I didn’t like was how loose the steering felt in my hands. I wanted more resistance and feedback while holding the wheel through turns. The return to center was fine, but I couldn’t feel the road as much as I would have liked. This attribute, however, may make the Camaro even better for daily driving, where mind-numbing commutes on highways fill our time (and not the fast, twisty roads leading us to Hell, or even Chelsea for that matter).

OK, Burgess’ complaint comes with a ready-made excuse (in the great American car reviewing tradition). But dash it all, that dash!

But the dash, especially on the passenger side, felt like there was too much plastic and the muted chrome finish, which is also plastic, took away from the deeply recessed speedometer and tachometer.

And then, of course, once again, Burgess ends by parading his Everest-sized shoulder chip.

Now, I can see the flood of e-mails coming: Why build this car? What is Chevy thinking? My guess: Chevy wants to sell cars. And people will buy this one. If you’re not a fan of beefy machines or just can’t remove that stick jammed up your attitude, don’t buy one.

But when you see those squinting headlights and the slit of the scoop accenting the V-shaped hood in your rearview mirror, and you hear a deep-throated downshift, please edge over to the shoulder and let it pass. Trust me; it’ll only take a second.

Translation: if you don’t like this car, NSFW you, you whiney, limp-wristed tree hugging Detroit-hating bastard. Or something like that. Anyway, as soon as production cars hit the dealerships, we’ll have our review. But not before. Oh, and I wonder what the WaPo’s Warren Brown will make of this car. Love Detroit. Hate muscle cars. Can’t. Make. Decision.

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37 Comments on “DetN Shocker! Scott Burgess Not 100% Sold on Camaro...”

  • avatar

    Timing may be bad but i am glad that this car is going into production. Yeah, I’ll drive a “treehugger” mobile for errands/commuting to the train/etc, but when I need to blow off the stress of a tough week at work, 60 minutes in a car like this, alone at night, will do far more stress relief than anything else I can think of.

  • avatar

    Dashboard ………. Who buys a hot looking pony car because the dashboard looks/feels nice. All it has to do is look great, corner well, and go faster than most other cars on the street. Seems like GM got the Camaro just right.

  • avatar

    If they’d managed to launch it within a few years of its debut on the circuit, their timing would have been so much better. It will stil sell, but it would have sold better 2 years ago.

  • avatar

    Jalopnik was surprisingly mixed on the Camaro; and if you’re right, they were mixed on a tweaked model.

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    I’ve driven a V-6 model several times and I think the car is almost exactly what it should be. With 29 mpg highway and 300hp on tap as the base engine that delivers sub-7-second 0-60 times on regular unleaded, IRS, a base of $23K and enough retro-muscle styling inside and out to please both young and old musclecar enthusiasts, I think they pretty much hit the nail on the head.
    Go drive one when you can…and compare it to the Challenger and the Mustang and I think you will come away liking the Camaro quite a bit.

  • avatar

    It seemd the worst thing Edmunds could come up with about the car was that they didn’t like the short windows and chopped greenhouse look that made it hard to judge how big the car is behind the wheel. But like any car that will go away once you become used to it.

    The stats that most outlets got out of the car were astounding. Nearly 111mph through the quarter is really moving for any car this big and heavy. Really fast slalom speed too.

    If the only thing people can complain about is the size of the steering rim, some dash plastic and short window glass then I think GM probably hit the nail on the head with this one.

  • avatar

    Why does this feel to me like the Big 3 fondly looking back at the past instead of blazing a path to the future?

    Really, how big of a market is there for these muscle cars these days?

    For years it was a declining segment. They quit making it for that reason.

  • avatar

    Every Southerner knows muscle cars never died; they just morphed into pickups. Mustangs, Camaros, etc., are now just pickups without the bed and ride height. What’s the point?

  • avatar

    I have to admit, I do like the styling of it..except for the front…and the’s just plain ugly…no matter how you look at it! lip stick on a pig!! now as for the HP 300 hp in a V6 is awesome, now why can’t they incorprate that into the rest of GM’S line up and @ 29 mpg to boot…well thank the Ausies for that! and really GM, why did it take you over 3 years to do this car…and did they really learn from NASCAR..

  • avatar

    Welburn is a classy, talented, and charming man.

  • avatar
    Dr. No

    I think it’s a miss. To my eyes, the Challenger and Mustang are far better looking retro pony cars. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see much enthusiasm for it.

  • avatar

    If the only thing people can complain about is the size of the steering rim, some dash plastic and short window glass then I think GM probably hit the nail on the head with this one.

    They did… I just wonder if it’s the last or second to last nail in their coffin!

  • avatar

    The Volt is probably the most forward looking car any American automaker is working on and it’s pigpiled endlessly on this site.

    So what exactly is GM supposed to make? 90% of what they produce is vanilla, Toyota-like transportation that have nothing in common with the legendary cars their brands made in their heyday. No style, nothing to stand out and not recognizable as the great vehicles those brands were producing. The Camaro is certainly a breath of fresh air in this regard.

    I think if the Impala and Malibu paid as much homage to their heritage as the new Camaro then GM would really be onto something and not just cranking out plastic Japanese me-too cars. I guess either way GM really can’t win.

  • avatar

    I just saw a new Camaro at the local dealer and my mullet is coming in just fine – all business in front, and a party in the back. A pair made in muscle car heaven.

  • avatar

    sigh. i remember back in the 60s dreaming/reading other people’s dreams of the kinds of cars we’d be driving in the 2000’s; never occurred to anybody the hot ticket would be replicas of pony cars from the 60s.

    i knew detroit was toast a few years back, when one of the detroit V8 hot rod type car mags deigned to test the mustang vs a Subaru wrx and came to the conclusion that the subaru was better all around, “except for that indefinable thing called character” or some such weaseling BS.

  • avatar

    The styling doesn’t work for me as well as the Mustang and Challenger do, but I’ve always been a Ford guy, so I’ll admit to being biased.

    I am impressed by the base 300 hp V6 that gets 29 mpg in that car. I would be TRULY impressed to see that engine in something that weighs 1,000 pounds less, as it would probably then get 35 mpg AND run with EVOs.

    The Camaro will probably be a big hit, too bad GM’s timing stinks economy-wise AND the stealerships will all be adding huge “value adjustments” to the sticker and scaring potential customers away.

  • avatar

    I don’t think it’s retro so much as pony cars that don’t look like cobalts and yugos that is popular, like they were in the 80s and 90s. I am 28 so I don’t have any nostalgic attachment to the old pony cars, but I still vastly prefer the retro models, cause the contemporary models looked like crap.

  • avatar

    Wastage of valuable resources on a niche car which has a lot fewer buyers than main stream models.
    Hope Wagoner has fired the product planner.
    One quick fix- simply put the V6 from the Camaro in the Malibu and make it RWD (Malibu SS)!! Cost effective and sales effective too.

  • avatar

    Its can’t be said enough, too bad about the weight. Next?

  • avatar

    I have never read a car review that did not raise a couple of concerns. This first look at the 2010 Camaro is no exception. And, let’s face it, NO car is perfect in every regard to every reviewer.

    GM has done a terrific job with the powertrains in the Camaro, and the styling (to me) successfully appears retro and modern at the same time. Great job Chevrolet (GM’s only undamaged brand).

    I too am a bit disappointed in the interior, but overall the new Camaro is a great interpretation of the traditional American pony car.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Ir seems like this car will sell in it’s niche. I believe it handily outsells the challenger and gives some chase to the mustang, a much more conservative car the mustang still has it’s legions of admirers if for no other purpose than Ford has never abandoned the brand.. This car is as good as GM will turn out in their current state. Unfortunately, unlike Iacoccas 1964 mustang, I don’t see secretary’s, housewifes, and students using camaros for daily transportation. So the sales will be far more modest sales success. As to interiors, if GM can’t put a decent interior in a cadillac dts, or a corvette (both costing about 50K) how are they going to get it right on a car for half as much money? The interior people must have been the first out the door in all of those contractions starting many years ago. GM like chrysler has a basic interior and instrument cluster, this seems to get put in every car they build.

  • avatar

    I think Jalopnik wasn’t so much 100% not sold as downright disappointed.

  • avatar

    It weighs how much? 3,769 “at it’s lightest”? What is it made of, depleted uranium? Is it carved out of a single block of steel like a sculpture? My old ’81 Z-28 had a curb weight of 3,600 pounds, and even the A-pillar covers on that beast were made of 1/8th inch steel! Where is the weight coming from in this miracle age of aluminum and plastic? It’s power/weight ratio is only slightly better than my Celica GT-S, which cannot remotely be considered a muscle car. Must be the engine sound that does it…

  • avatar

    We’ll see how it stacks up for reliability. Anything new from Detroit has to be considered a test platform.
    And it’s better for TTAC to review the production models, not the prepped cars they hand out to reviewers.

  • avatar

    Jalopnik was hoping for the Corvette @ 30000 bucks…

    When expectations are that high I can’t really count their disappointment against the Camaro. It didn’t cure cancer either.

  • avatar

    I’m trying to get into the looks of the new Camaro, but for whatever reason it just leaves me cold and alienated. Great wheels though.

    Disclosure: I am a Mopar guy, so I am obviously biased.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    The only thing left to screw it up will be the dealership experience.

  • avatar

    MidLifeCelica :
    March 22nd, 2009 at 9:32 am

    It weighs how much? 3,769 “at it’s lightest”? What is it made of, depleted uranium? Is it carved out of a single block of steel like a sculpture? My old ‘81 Z-28 had a curb weight of 3,600 pounds, and even the A-pillar covers on that beast were made of 1/8th inch steel! Where is the weight coming from in this miracle age of aluminum and plastic?

    Airbags and other safety appliances, sound-deadening material, power everything…all that adds up. Your Z-28 didn’t have any of those things, made a lot less power, and was almost as heavy. Imagine how heavy the new Camaro would be if it wasn’t for modern weight-saving techniques.

  • avatar

    It weighs how much? 3,769 “at it’s lightest”?

    I don’t know how this comes as a surprise to anyone. The Camaro is, effectively, a G8 coupe. The G8 is not a light car, and coupes are rarely, if ever, significantly lighter than their sedan counterparts. The Challenger is a spectacular example of this, and based on the Challenger and G8 I was fully expecting it to be heavier.

    Say what you will about the Mustang, it comes in about three hundred pounds lighter in GT trim (same power, mind you, but that might change as Ford refreshes it’s powerplants). The Genesis coupe is also a few hundred pounds less portly.

    And then there’s the 370Z, which is about five hundred pounds lighter, and the RX-8, which is almost a thousand pounds lighter (though seriously outgunned).

    I am impressed by the base 300 hp V6 that gets 29 mpg in that car.

    I want to see real-world mileage before we all get too excited about that figure. GM has a long history of making EPA and/or Highway queens that take a considerable drubbing when driven even moderately hard, or in an urban cycle.

  • avatar

    Airbags and other safety appliances, sound-deadening material, power everything…all that adds up.

    Well those last two can go straight to hell as far as I’m concerned.

    I remember the 4th gen Firebird offering a 1LE “autocross” package on the Formula. It took away the power windows, power locks, power mirrors, power antenna, and the CD player. Saved you like $2200 and a few pounds.

  • avatar

    My ’81 had power windows, power door locks, power antenna (aftermarket), power everything. The glass t-roof was massive as well. Who the hell wants sound deadening in a muscle car, anyway? If you want to roll in a sound-proof booth, buy a Buick. Airbags..don’t get me started. If people weren’t so taken by urban myths of seat belts trapping them in their car after their car plunges into an icy river, or knee-jerk reactions against ‘the gubmint’ for trying to make wearing seat belts mandatory they wouldn’t exist. Maybe if people actually thought that they could get hurt if they run into something they might drive a bit more carefully. I wonder how many people believe that they can slam into a bridge pier at 65 mph with their modern car and walk away without a scratch.
    A 350 small block weighs a lot more than this this V6, too. After the Crane cams, Edelbrock manifold, Holley 650 carb, etc. went in, yeah, still not 300HP…but probably pretty close.

  • avatar

    You know what, much as I’m not a pony-car person, can’t justify this car and would probably buy something else if I could, it’s a great car and a screamingly good deal.

    For CA$27K, you get three hundred horsepower, a six-speed transmission, eighteen-inch wheels (albeit heavy steel ones) and a chassis that, if the G8 is any example, can and does handle very well.

    Do you know what CA$27K buys you otherwise? Well, it’ll get you a Camry SE with a four-cylinder engine or Corolla XRS. At Honda, it’ll get you a Civic Si or a four-cylinder Accord coupe. At Subaru? A base-engine Impreza. Mazda? A base-engine 3 or 6. Nissan? It might get you an Altima 3.5 if you bargain, but it will get you a Sentra SE-R, which is just sad. At Volkswagen you might get a 2.0T Rabbit or Jetta.

    Hell, even if you restrict it to the Americans, it’s the kind of money that would get you a Mustang with wussy suspension, chintzy tires and a truck six. At Chrysler it gets you a Challenger that’s less fun than the aforementioned Camry SE.

    I cannot think of a better performance option (no, not even the Genesis) for the strapped enthusiast, and if you’re willing to wait until the blush is off the rose, it’ll get even better. The only concern I have is how the hell is GM going to turn a profit on this car, and what did they leave out? Because, from where I sit, this is just way, way too good to be true.

  • avatar
    George B

    The new Camaro isn’t a pony car, it’s a clydesdale car. Too bad GM’s good effort at drivetrains can’t find a home in some lighter weight RWD car.

  • avatar

    Since when do sticky tires have anything to do with agility?

  • avatar

    psarhjinian : “Because, from where I sit, this is just way, way too good to be true.”

    I agree with this – what concessions allowed so many features at such a reasonable price (and where are these concessions hidden?).

    I’ll choose to believe that they make very little money on the LS and 1LT trim levels, and pick up the slack on the SS and option packages.

    It’s also predictive of very little “wiggle room” on MSRP, even when sales start to slow.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    GM only keeps these camaros out of rental car hell if the public buys them retail. There are always two mountains to climb with a new model like camaro. First, it has to sell to a group of likely car buyers in quantity, secondly it has to make conquest sales from competiors. This car cannot take sales away from other GM lines as this will leave chevy where it started. I think camaro does some of this, however, this is not 1964, and it won’t be a game changer like mustang was for Ford. Therefore, GM does not sink or swim on the outcome of this particular battle. You need a pipeline full of constantly hitting models to change the fortunes of a company like GM. In the 50’s and 60’s, GM perfected this talent with annual model changes across their entire lineup.Not even the Japanese can do that type of design change, but they have models with the five year staying power that will give them breathing room to get the next model out. Here is where your consumer reports and JD Power give them partners in marketing.

  • avatar

    I’ll choose to believe that they make very little money on the LS and 1LT trim levels, and pick up the slack on the SS and option packages.

    And yet, as far as I can tell, you’d be nuts to buy anything other than the LS trim, unless you want the V8. Unlike the V6 Mustang—and really unlike the base Challenger—it’s a serious frikkin’ car that’s only a wheel change away from near-perfection, unless I’m missing something.

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