Driving Northwest: 2010 Chevy Camaro SS

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by Tom Voelk / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on April 15, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 15 at 10:01 PM

Sometimes less is more but it's not the American way. There are days a plain old Big Gulp just doesn't do it. Only the Super XXL Mega Gulp in the commemorative thermal tanker will quench your thirst (never mind that it fulfills the hydration and caloric needs of a small village in a distant arid land). No doubt about it, there are moments when nothing satisfies like excess. Americans have elevated it to an art form.

Power to the people

The 2010 Camaro SS adheres to the more is more principal. Sure there's always the standard Camaro. Motivated by a direct injected 304 horsepower V6, it has decent scoot. But we're talking SS. When outfitted with a 6-speed manual transmission it has a 426 horsepower V8 tucked neatly under the hood. Is a 6.2-liter LS3 unit pumping out 420 lb.-ft of torque excessive? Depends. Viper has a lot more power and with just two seats, it's impractical too. But I'm veering off topic. We're talking peer pressure here and that's never rational. Mustang GT has bumped up the power to 412, Challenger SRT8 raises that to 425. Gosh, how is it that Camaro gets 426...?

With the SS, 0-60 runs easily flash by in just under 5 seconds. It has such a deep well of power even rational drivers will be shocked at their own behavior. It just sneaks up on you. Officer. Absolute power corrupts and in this case power does corrupt… absolutely. You'll never need to go to Disneyland again, but a racetrack is required for the full Space Mountain effect.

V8 times 2

A performance note, order the 6-speed automatic transmission and the L99 6.2-litre V8 it comes with makes 400 horsepower, the manual gear box version gets 26 more. EPA rates the more powerful LS3s fuel economy at 16 city / 24 highway. Less if you drive hard…. and you will.

It's been said that red vehicles get pulled over by law enforcement more often. In this case Chevy should change the paint name from Victory Red to Cop Alert Crimson. Honestly though, color doesn't matter in this case. Even done up in camouflage Camaro will be nailed using half its performance. Those with no self control should not buy this car. Last time I checked there's no volume discount for speeding tickets.

Not your father's Camaro

Unlike muscle cars of old, the new Camaro is right at home in the curves. Personally I prefer my performance cars smaller but the big SS devours back country corners effortlessly and stays flat as Kansas doing it. The lighter V6 version seems a touch more nimble in the twisties. Ride quality is firm but tolerable for enthusiasts, road noise average.

Camaros of course have electronic stability control, the SS gains a competitive/sport mode for on-track use. Turn it off and SS turns into a tire shredding machine. Manual transmission SSs get launch control to maximize forward thrust. Brembo brakes are standard on the SS and they perform very well. The wheels are 20 inchers. If that's not large enough, Chevy dealers can bump them up to 21s while you wait at Burger King eating a A1 Steakhouse XT Burger. Might want to add bacon. And fries.

Like bright and open cockpits?

Camaro is not your car then. The only thing small here is the outward view. With gun slit windows, visibility is my biggest gripe. With a low roof and high beltline, the first few minutes of driving can be disorienting. The SS cabin gets dressed up with painted door panels and "SS" stitching on the headrests. Still, it's not a luxury environment. Because of the wide expanse of black plastic on the passenger side of the instrument panel there's a slightly spartan feel about the cabin.

Plastics are hard but the ice blue/crimson lighting is attractive. At night an attractive strip of blue piping glows on the door panel. A few gripes, many buttons are packed onto the two small HVAC clusters and there's no automatic climate control. My average sized frame rattles around in the larger seats when cornering hard, more lateral support would be appreciated. I suspect they're sized for the vente Frappuccino drinker.

XM is satellite radio is standard here, phones and iPods are supported. There's no integrated navigation system available for Camaro but directions are just a push button away. Hit the OnStar button, tell a friendly rep where you want to go and audible directions will be downloaded. Promps are displayed in the gauge cluster. It works great, in some ways better than a nav system with a screen.

Moving to the back...

Front seats don't automatically slide forward to help folks crawling into the back but at least both chairs get quick release seat backs. In the rear there are seats for two. That whole excess thing stops here, foot and leg room is minimal passengers, only passengers under 5 foot 6 will have enough headroom. There are map pockets but no cupholders or storage cubbies back here. Want a practical Chevy? Buy a Malibu or Equinox.

That's a perfect segue to the trunk. Camaro has a J-Lo back end but that doesn't translate to cargo space. Space saving scissor hinges help but the narrow slot keeps big boxes out. Using my standard Kirkland brand bath tissue trunk measurement metric, capacity is below average at 5 warehouse sized packs. At least the rear seat folds forward so Camaro can take on longer stuff.

The SS starts at $31,795. With a $1,200 RS package and $470 polished wheels, this 2SS Chevy stickers for $36, 265. Camaro's silhouette recalls the original but they don't make them like they used to. They're much better now. Bigger too. Looking for style and performance? The sinister SS is the best Camaro ever.

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