After months of teasing us with unveiled prototypes on the roads, hints dropped here and there about performance and specs, and of course all the waiting after the concept car's unveiling, Chevrolet finally unveiled the production 2010 Camaro. Finally, the most important questions are revealed: The top-of-the-line Camaro SS will have a 6.2-liter, 422 horsepower V-8 running through a six-speed manual gearbox. That's just shy of the Dodge Challenger SRT8's numbers, in a package that weighs about 300 fewer pounds. The muscle car wars are back, baby, in a big way.
In an era of gas prices spiraling upward, "green" energy on everyone's minds and a Toyota Prius one of the hottest status symbols, it seems an odd time to introduce a gas-swilling 400-plus horsepower musclecar. However, we think it's the perfect time, because there is a real possibility that this will be the last time we'll see cars like this on our roads. So live the dream, revel in the nostalgia, and lay down rubber while you can, America. Besides, the Ford Mustang has been ruling the stables ever since GM pulled the plug on the Camaro and Pontiac Firebird after the 2002 model year, and Dodge has even reintroduced the Challenger. Chevy can't let that go on forever.
Three engines are available for the new Camaro. The first is the direct-injection version of GM's 3.6-liter V-6 making 300 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. It's standard equipment on the LS and LT versions and mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The power hungry will want to step up to the SS models, which is available with V-8 power. Manual transmission SS Camaros come with a 6.2-liter 422 hp., 408 lb.-ft. V-8 that's pulled straight from a Corvette's engine bay. Opt for the six-speed automatic and you get a slightly less powerful version that puts out 400 horsepower and 395 lb.-ft. of torque, but likely with better gas mileage thanks to GM's cylinder-deactivation technology. Suspension is independent on all four corners, and Chevrolet has incorporated several clever touches, such as a steering rack mounted ahead of the front axle, to improve driving performance.
The Camaro looks a lot like two different cars. The first is the 1969 Camaro, from the recessed headlights and grille to the profile to the muscular stance. The second is the 2007 Camaro Concept which wowed crowds at that year's Detroit auto show. In fact, it looks remarkably close to that concept, hewing to it as closely as Dodge did with its production version of the Challenger. The shape is classic and modern at the same time boasting broad shoulders, a low roofline, and proportions that reflect the past without replicating it exactly. The RS package available on LT and SS models adds glowing rings around the HID headlights, a spoiler, special taillights and 20-inch wheels.
With numerous spy photos available, the interior has been the only visual mystery left about the 2010 Camaro. Opinions are split. Some like the retro feel, with the speedometer and tachometer in separate housings and the use of chrome and curves to recreate elements of the 60s cars. Yet others question the placement of accessory gauges so low on the dash, or the wide expanse of dash in front of the front passenger. What's for certain is that it's rooted in 2010, with satellite radio an option, plenty of airbags and niceties such as stability control and antilock brakes that drivers from the late 60s couldn't have even imagined.
"Camaro delivers all of the things that make Chevrolet such a revered, global brand," said Ed Peper, GM North America's vice president in charge of Chevrolet. "It competes with the world's best sports cars and does so with styling, fuel economy and value our competitors simply can't match." Big words, to be sure, but on paper at least, the new Camaro has the power to back them up.
Hey, we love cars, and we have been waiting for the return of the Camaro since the last one rolled off the assembly line in 2002. Do we like the new one? You bet. Can we wait until February of 2009 before we can drive one? Well, no, but we'll just have to. Do we think that Chevrolet is going to win the muscle car wars? Maybe...the Dodge Challenger is one heck of a good car, and Chevy's competitor is going to have to be very good to best it. That said, there's only one way to find out, and we're already scoping out empty parking lots for the inevitable burnout contest.
By Keith Buglewicz Photo credit: Chevrolet