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Thread: Driving impressions: 2010 Camaro V-6

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Driving impressions: 2010 Camaro V-6

    The V-8 powered SS version of Chevy's new Camaro coupe gets most of the attention, but the V-6 powered standard-issue Camaro ought to be one everyone's radar. Why? Let's get to the meaty parts straight off:

    The Camaro's standard 3.6 liter V-6 engine has almost as much power (304 hp) as the 4.6 liter V-8 engine (315 hp) in the much more expensive Ford Mustang GT - and nearly 100 horsepower more than the Mustang's standard 4.0 liter V-6 (210 hp). The muscular Chevy also has 50 horsepower more than the standard 3.5 liter V-6 (250 hp) in the Dodge Challenger SE.

    Camaro's just getting warmed up, though.

    It comes standard with a close ratio six-speed manual transmission - while the Ford Mustang V-6 is only offered with a five-speed. V-6 version of the Dodge Challenger can't be had with a manual transmission at all. To get a manual in the Dodge you have to buy the nice but expensive V-8 powered R/T - which starts at $30,220 or nearly eight thousand bucks more than the base Camaro's $22,245 sticker price.

    You'll also get 18 inch rims and performance tires (17s are standard on the Mustang and Challenger), the same mean-looking cowl-induction hood as the SS gets, excellent four-wheel-disc brakes and the option of a six-speed, paddle-shifted automatic vs. the economy-car four and five-speed automatics found in the competition.

    So, how does it run?

    On the road, the six-speed's gear splits are tight all the way up to fifth and sixth - both of which drop engine RPMs to near idle speeds even at very high road speeds. I clocked the Camaro at less than 2,000 at 75 mph in top gear.

    The V-6 has a 7,000 RPM redline.

    I wasn't able to check out the top end but I would not be surprised if it's higher than my 455 cubic inch mid-'70s Trans-Am can manage. Probably at least 140 mph; maybe even 150 (assuming GM hasn't installed an electronic nanny; the horsepower necessary to do the deed is definitely there).

    This car does zero to 60 in six seconds flat - which means you could probably get it into the fives with a good aftermarket exhaust system and some fine-tuning.

    Remember: this is the base Camaro. The $22k model - not the $30k V-8 SS.

    And it moves.

    Oh yeah, one more thing:

    The Camaro's V-6 gets significantly better gas mileage (almost 30 mpg on the highway) than either the Ford Mustang's 4.0 liter V-6 or the Challenger's 3.5 liter V-6 ... both of which guzzle fuel almost as lustily as the V-8s that are optional in those cars.

    It could be the ultimate stealth muscle car. Insurance companies will hopefully consider it the "economy" model and thus charge premiums that aren't deal killers (especially for young male drivers). And $22k - let's say $23,500 out the door, taxes and tags, etc. - is a whole lot more manageable for those same young male drivers than the $30k (plus dealer gouging) an SS would set you back.

    Even better, you can afford to feed it. 17 city and 29 highway is Camry/Accord/Malibu territory. Drive it reasonably when necessary and you should be solidly in the mid 20s most of the time.

    That's economically doable for most people while mid-high teens (what you'd get with the V-8) isn't. Especially since you just saved yourself something like eight grand by not buying the V-8 SS (or the similarly pricey Ford Mustang GT or Dodge Challenger R/T). Those are great cars, no doubt - and I am not slamming them as cars. But their cost of entry and ownership is exorbitant. The original muscle cars of the 1960s were wonderful not just because they looked like hell on wheels and drove like it, too - but because almost anyone could afford to drive one. The V-8 Mustang GT and Challenger R/T - and yes, the Camaro SS too - are cars for older rich guys mostly. Which is fine for them, but it sucks if you're under 30 and want The Experience.

    Thank the motor gods, Chevy has its head screwed on right this time. The Camaro doesn't tease with performance equipment that's out of reach and then toss you the econo-car drivetrain in the sexy bodyshell like Ford and Chrysler do with their pony cars. No, Chevrolet - bless them! - has made real performance available to the average guy.

    The base Camaro gives a beating to the base Mustang and Challenger as fierce as what Sonny did to Carlo in "The Godfather." And hell, the base Camaro isn't too far off the pace of the V-8 Mustang GT (0-60 in 5 seconds) which is downright embarrassing - for Ford.

    This car should sell - deserves to sell - and if doesn't, it will not be any fault of its own. The 2010 Camaro V-6 is - by far - the best standard-issue Camaro Chevrolet has ever made, by any measure.

    If it doesn't make it, at least it will help GM go out of business in style.

    And that's all I have to say about that.

  2. #2
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    I love GM's corporate 304HP direct injected 3.6L V6. It's a true workhorse. Its also fast as stink. In the Camaro, it is well matched to its body. On the other hand, the 304 HP direct injected V6 is a gas pig in the GMC Arcadia that I rented this past week. I put $60 in three days of driving maybe 400 miles. I felt like I was refueling the Endeavor.

    I hope that GM is able to break away from Obama and produce the kind of cars that we need.

    I won't be holding my breath.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    I love GM's corporate 304HP direct injected 3.6L V6. It's a true workhorse. Its also fast as stink. In the Camaro, it is well matched to its body. On the other hand, the 304 HP direct injected V6 is a gas pig in the GMC Arcadia that I rented this past week. I put $60 in three days of driving maybe 400 miles. I felt like I was refueling the Endeavor.

    I hope that GM is able to break away from Obama and produce the kind of cars that we need.

    I won't be holding my breath.
    Agreed!

    As far as the Arcadia - it's both heavy as hell and automatic. The Camaro's six-speed really helps (same deal in the Corvette, which can get 30 mpg on the highway if driven not too fast!).

    But I don't see how cars like Camaro or engines like the 3.6 V-6 survive 35-40 mpg CAFE and the rest of it ....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Agreed!

    As far as the Arcadia - it's both heavy as hell and automatic. The Camaro's six-speed really helps (same deal in the Corvette, which can get 30 mpg on the highway if driven not too fast!).

    But I don't see how cars like Camaro or engines like the 3.6 V-6 survive 35-40 mpg CAFE and the rest of it ....
    Maybe Chevy will cut the price of a Volt and sell the hell out of it. The other thing that they can do is produce clean diesel. Give buyers no option for most cars and keep teh performance cars gasoline.

    I wish I was in control of just one car company.

    The automatic wasn't bad on the Arcadia. The vehicle was no slug, but I have driven moving vans that ate less gasoline.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    More stuff:

    Second gear is good for almost 70 mph (at redline)...

    Got to 125 easily....

    Will do a nice burnout!

    Very cool ice blue backlighting at night inside the cabin.

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    Sorry I'm late to the party, but I've been a little busy over on Trans Am Country and 78TA.com, the second generation Firebird sites I help moderate.

    I've owned a 2010 Camaro since 5/22/2009, but could not get the title until 5/29/2009. Those who keep track of such things will recognize that as the Friday before GM declared bankruptcy. I knew the owner of the dealership personally and I knew he was in trouble, so when they got the car on consignment from GM I figured I should purchase it if I didn't want to jack around with bankruptcy proceedings. The car is a 2LT that stickered out at $27,900. I paid $24,000 for it, which I thought was outstanding considering this is one of the first 1800 cars built. We struck the deal nearly 2 weeks before, but he was unable to get permission to turn the car over until 5/22. Indeed, when he finally DID get the titlework, it was made out to a huge dealership nearly 50 miles away. I was walking around for that period of time scared that GM would pull the car back under the bankruptcy proceedings. A month after I got the title, the dealership was closed when GM cut him off cold. I believe I came within a weekend of NOT getting the car at all.

    My car is an automatic, equipped with the tap shifter. Although I've always been a "manual" transmission guy, I can tell you that you can exert greater control over the engine via the tap shifter than you ever could with a clutch, plus you can't do anything blatantly stupid that would blow the engine. With a little practice you can carve corners in a way that's not possible with a manual transmission.

    I only carry a maximum of 1 passenger, so rear seat room is irrelevant to me -- which is good, because there ISN'T any leg room for anyone in the rear seat when I'm driving. However, on the plus side I don't feel crowded at all by the sunroof as reported by some in the automotive press. I'm 6' 1" and even wearing a hat I'm just not aware of any headroom restrictions.

    I've "only" had the car up to 135 MPH, but it was still pulling quite well and I have no doubt that it would hit the reported 157 MPH governor-limited top end. There's simply not enough suitable and safe road around here to test that out in person.

    Ten months into my ownership, I am VERY happy with the car. The build quality is first-class and I have had ZERO complaints or problems. I much prefer it over the Mustang or the Challenger. After seeing how well the V-6 worked out and reading the reviews of the V-8, I am truly heartsick that GM killed the Z28 version. That model had progressed to the stage where they were sourcing the production parts before GM, acting on orders from the White House, killed the project and disbanded the team. I still fear that the V-8 will be dropped from the 2011 lineup and the base engine will become a normally-aspirated 4 cylinder.

    If GM were to build cars like this, they'd thrive. I'm concerned, however, that the new owners come to the table with an agenda that doesn't include fun and performance. Time will tell -- and the introductions of the 2011 lineup will likely tell the story.


  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Hey Rick,

    Good to see you back - and, nice car!

    The press car I had was also yellow (see pic below).

    I agree with most of what you've written, with the following qualification:

    If America weren't on the precipice of ruin, I think GM would make money hand over fist building cars like Camaro.

    But unfortunately, the country is on the brink of ruin - in the sense that the middle class is being systematically destroyed. And it is the middle class, by and large, that purchases cars such as Camaro.

    Obamacare's mandates and taxes alone will add another $1,000-$2,000 (or more) to the average middle class family's annual expenses. Factor in real unemployment that is pushing 20 percent, the permanent loss of most manufacturing jobs, the vitiation of economic security, the stagnation of wages and the loss of middle class assets such as home equity values, 401k portfolios, etc. - and I see little hope that "fun" cars like Camaro can survive
    economically.

    Now toss in the CAFE regs - which will likely kill the V-8, as you hint at.

    I see Camaro as a short-lived flashback that will last one model cycle and probably be dropped before four years have gone by.

    I wish it were otherwise, but that's how I see it.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Do you still have to completely remove the V6 engine to do a spark plug change?

    IMAO, the dumbest designed (for many reasons) car we ever owned (and we owned many)was our 1996 V6 Camaro.


    It was nice to look at, but a complete peace of crap! Unconformable piece of junk too, especially to the front passenger.


    I was glad Tom totaled it out in Golden Gate Park! Good riddance to that peace of sheet car!


    -Don-

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Do you still have to completely remove the V6 engine to do a spark plug change?

    IMAO, the dumbest designed (for many reasons) car we ever owned (and we owned many)was our 1996 V6 Camaro.


    It was nice to look at, but a complete peace of crap! Unconformable piece of junk too, especially to the front passenger.


    I was glad Tom totaled it out in Golden Gate Park! Good riddance to that peace of sheet car!


    -Don-

    The current (2010) Camaro has nothing in common with the previous Camaro that was cancelled in 2002 other than the name.

    It is a much better-designed car, in every respect.

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    Eric -- agree completely with your analysis. In fact, those are the conclusions I reached a year ago before I ever saw a 2010 Camaro in person. I don't anticipate purchasing another vehicle of any kind within the next 10-12 years, based on projected service lives and annual mileage driven by this family.

    The last time this country experience similar economic conditions was in the 1930s. Despite some extremely inept moves by the Federal government (and with the unfortunate help of a world war) things had improved significantly within 12 years of the "bottom". Hopefully we can avoid the world war part, but it's not unreasonable to think we'll recover within a similar period of time.

    Overcoming the loss of equity in home values is the giant millstone that's going to take the longest for most people to dig out from under. Until that happens a LOT of things (housing industry recovery, real estate market, retirements for many) will be delayed/deferred significantly.

  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Eric -- agree completely with your analysis. In fact, those are the conclusions I reached a year ago before I ever saw a 2010 Camaro in person. I don't anticipate purchasing another vehicle of any kind within the next 10-12 years, based on projected service lives and annual mileage driven by this family.

    The last time this country experience similar economic conditions was in the 1930s. Despite some extremely inept moves by the Federal government (and with the unfortunate help of a world war) things had improved significantly within 12 years of the "bottom". Hopefully we can avoid the world war part, but it's not unreasonable to think we'll recover within a similar period of time.

    Overcoming the loss of equity in home values is the giant millstone that's going to take the longest for most people to dig out from under. Until that happens a LOT of things (housing industry recovery, real estate market, retirements for many) will be delayed/deferred significantly.
    It may be worse - and take longer to recover (if we ever do).

    Among others problems, we're no longer a manufacturing nation. High value-added jobs have been disappeared overseas; how do we get them back? And if they don't come back, how do volume/mass-market muscle cars (or cars, period) "work" as viable consumer products? I don't see it.

    We also have a massive parasite class that just didn't exist in the 1930s; indeed, in those days most people were far more self-sufficient (and desired to be self-sufficient) than the ever-growing mass of moochers we've got today.

    And on the cars themselves: Today, there are numerous "side costs" that either didn't exist back in the '70s or were far less onerous. For example, personal property taxes on motor vehicles (in VA the annual cost for this on a new Camaro would be at least $500 annually for years to come). And insurance. In the '70s, if the car was paid-for, you could skip this, if you wanted to. Not anymore. As a result of the legal requirement that everyone carry insurance, the cost of insurance has increased - because they insurance cartel knows you have to buy a policy, so there's virtually no pressure the individual can apply, as in the past - when he could say, "That's too much. I think I'll have to cancel."

    Finally, as you note, service (other than basic maintenance) is largely beyond the skill/equipment possessed by the average person. So he's forced to pay a $70/hour technician to do the work. I'm not slamming the techs; they are high-skilled people who deserve what they earn. I'm just pointing out that it adds another layer of expense to the cost of owning a car.

    I'd love to have a new SS - but I can't justify laying down the $30k plus probably another $6k over the first five years for insurance/taxes. That is not small change for me; heck, I could have my '76 TA restored to a national show/concours level for that amount.

    I suspect there are lots of others like me out there; people who'd love to own one of these things but who either can't afford it or are reluctant to throw that kind of money at it....

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