August 25, 2009
Every Camaro has a story, and we expect this 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS will be no different. When you're around a Camaro, things happen.
Just like we remember the time when Betty was sitting at the top of the grandstand at the drag strip and looking idly into the night sky when Billy began desperately trying to get her attention from the driver seat. He's next up, and the staging box is being hosed down while the V8 in his Camaro lopes like an unbalanced dryer. She finally gets with the program, turns her head toward the track in time to see the first red light in the Christmas tree flash on. Then two red lights. Then three. And green!
Billy drops the clutch. The tires, still sticky from a pretty epic burnout, hook up hard and there's no wheelspin. Then the rear end grenades. Billy coasts to a stop 700 feet from the tree. We spend the next few hours under Billy's car repairing what we can; we've gotta get home somehow. Betty watches from afar.
This was our first Camaro story, and we've found that everyone who's ever been around one of Chevy's pony cars has some kind of story to tell, too. Now that we've bought a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS and started another 12-month/20,000-mile long-term road test, we expect that everyone here will soon have a new Camaro story of some sort to tell.
What We Got
No good Camaro story has ever started with, "Well, I got the V6 because...." If you're expecting some kind of story to happen to you, then your Camaro needs a V8. A big one. (Note: A Camaro story is perfectly acceptable if it has a V8 but the car is only running on six cylinders.)
Our 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS has got a pretty big one, a 6.2-liter V8 with more ponies than a horse farm — some 426 horsepower to be exact, all of which is available at 5,900 rpm. As for twist, 420 pound-feet of torque at 4,600 rpm does the trick. And thanks to giant leaps in the engineering of large-displacement engines with simple pushrod-operated valves (not to mention optimal gearing in this car's six-speed manual transmission), this 3,864-pound pony car is rated by the EPA at a not-so-terrible 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway, with 19 mpg combined. Actually using the aforementioned horsepower, however, will net significantly lower numbers, as we've discovered.
The 2010 Chevy Camaro SS is fairly well appointed from the factory with a full complement of airbags (front, side and head curtain), a limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes, halogen headlights, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel and a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics stereo with aux input. Naturally we wanted even more, so we're happy to have the 2SS trim level, which adds leather-upholstered seats (heated in the front), Bluetooth capability (a necessity here in California to abide by the law against cell phone use while driving), the auxiliary four-gauge instrument cluster and a USB port that can handle an iPod.
We didn't necessarily want the RS package, but our 2010 Camaro SS certainly has it. This means 20-by-8-inch front and 20-by-9-inch rear cast-aluminum wheels that are painted, not chromed (welcome to the new century, Chevy), and 245/45ZR front and 275/40ZR20 rear Pirelli P Zero tires. Then there are HID lights with halo rings and RS taillights. The RS package adds $1,200 to the bottom line of our new Camaro, and while it's stuff we could live without, we had a hard enough time finding a relatively plainly equipped 2010 Chevy Camaro to buy on any dealership lot in Los Angeles.
In fact, it would appear that from a supply/demand perspective that Chevy is possibly the most brilliant financial strategist in the automotive marketplace. Back in 2002, Chevy cleverly anticipated the forthcoming collapse of the economy and discontinued its Camaro, leaving the Ford Mustang to carry on the whole rear-wheel-drive pony car thing. (We'll forget all about the Pontiac GTO episode, which didn't work out for Pontiac, GM or anyone, really.) Mullets shook with anger when this happened, but few others noticed.
Until that is, the Camaro concept car appeared at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show, and then some Hollywood guy, Mike Bay, saw it and thought it might fit the movie he was making about warring robots. The hype machine chugged, churned and spewed for more than three years. Take away what people want and then give it back a few years later at a premium. It was a bold strategy for sure.
So when examples of the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro hit dealership lots, man, they went fast. Real fast. Camaros with a manual transmission were completely sold out almost overnight. According to one dealer, ordering a Camaro with a manual transmission would net us a car in seven months. Then he told us that he had a buyer who had pre-ordered a Camaro but had backed out. It was going to show up in a couple of days and we were welcome to it — if we wanted an automatic transmission. We did not, but we decided that we'd call every Chevy dealer in Los Angeles, hoping to find another pre-ordered Camaro abandoned by its prospective owner and then buy the one with the lowest markup.
Weeks of searching finally netted a hit at M.K. Smith Chevy in Chino, California. We hoped to pay MSRP, but this one was silver (no way we'd take yellow), had the leather interior and was available the same day. Dealer markup? About 2,500 bucks. Seems fair. With tax, title, license, doc-prep and everything else signed and done, the total tab for our 2010 Chevy Camaro SS came to $42,192.
Why We Got It
Well, it's an American icon, isn't it? Actually it's an American icon for two different subcultures in our national automotive life, those with mullets and a set of cinder blocks to use as jack stands who don't want some kind of Cash for Clunkers mpg machine, and regular guys looking for high-speed hi-jinks who are smart enough to keep the cost down.
There's a little bit of both groups in those of us here, but we're probably most interested in the speed thing. Either way, the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS has us covered. It looks like the kind of car you wanted when you were 12, and it's got stupid power under the hood with the 426-hp V8.
The Christmas Tree Goes Green
We don't know where the road will lead our 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS, but we only have 12 months to explore it. Some things to expect in our long-term blog about this car:
- New rear tires
- Poor fuel economy
- Grudge night at Irwindale Speedway's drag strip
- Pointless reminiscences about the 1960s
- Dismay that significant others don't like the Camaro as much as Betty did
- Complaints that a Camaro has never been great to sleep in
But maybe we're speculating too much. Maybe for this test we'll just sit back, let the back of our hair grow out and relax. We've got 12 months and 20,000 miles to find out what kind of stories are going to happen to us.
Current Odometer: 1,636 miles
Best Fuel Economy: 20.9 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.6 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 17.3 mpg
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.