Review: 2010 Chevy Camaro RS V6 4

In the realm of pony-cars, there are mainly two kinds of people, Mustang fans and Camaro fans. The Mustang was the original pony and provided the name to the segment. It was three years after the Mustang’s 1964 debut before Chevrolet responded with the original Camaro. While the Mustang has been in continuous production for 45 years, falling sales of the last generation Camaro caused GM to discontinue it in 2003. Meanwhile Ford gave the Mustang a new lease on life in 2005 with a full ground up redesign that saw sales surge. Needless to say GM took notice and 2006 brought a new Camaro concept that was a thoroughly modern design that still paid tribute to the 1967 original. The response was overwhelmingly positive and three years later the production fifth generation Camaro hit the streets.

I recently got the chance to spend a week with the 2010 Camaro V6 with the RS package. Remember those fans I mentioned, well I definitely fall into the Mustang camp. I’ve owned two of them including the 2005 model that is my garage right now. I’ve never been a Camaro fan. However, when the new fifth generation Camaro arrived I was struck by its looks. This is a fantastic looking car with the perfect proportions for a sporty car. The hood is long long and rear deck is short with prominent rear haunches that give it an athletic stance.

Thankfully the beauty isn’t just skin deep. There’s a lot of good hardware in the new Camaro. Most of the engineering on the car was done in Australia by GM’s Holden division alongside the Pontiac G8 and Holden Commodore which share the Camaro’s platform. The base engine is a direct injected version of GM’s 3.6-liter twin cam V6 and with 304 hp this is a great engine.

One of the big complaints of people who don’t like the Mustang is the solid rear axle. In older generations of the Mustang, this has caused a problem with wheel-hop especially when hitting bumps while cornering. By using the its Zeta platform for the Camaro, GM was able to give it an independent rear suspension which the Mustang lacks. While independent rear suspension provides theoretical benefits to ride and handling, as always it comes down to execution and integration. Ford has done a remarkable job of refining the Mustangs suspension to minimize understeer and keep the rear wheels under control on rough surfaces and during acceleration and cornering.

Unfortunately IRS adds a lot of weight (typically 150-200 lbs) and the larger Camaro is typically anywhere from 300-400 lbs heavier than a comparable Mustang. The Camaro, especially with the 20 inch wheels from the RS package provides outstanding overall grip, but it seems to be lacking mechanical grip at the front. When you start pushing the Camaro hard it understeers unless you really punch the gas with the stability control off to get the rear end out. It also feels heavy when changing direction and doesn’t seem as responive as the Mustang.

My test car had the 6-speed automatic transmission which provides switches on the back of the steering wheel spokes for manual shifting. Most automatic transmission cars with steering wheel shifting have paddles that allow some flexibility in where you place your hands. The switches are really too small to be particularly useful. The transmission shifts smoothly, but tends to sap some of the joy of the wonderful V6.

My other main problem with the Camaro is the interior. While the 2010 Mustang got an all new interior that feels vastly more refined and upscale, the Camaro is all hard plastics and vast expanses of nothing. Frankly it looks kind of cheap. It’s also hard to see out of the Camaro thanks to a high belt-line and low roof that leaves narrow slits for windows. While the Camaro is fabulous to look at, it frankly isn’t all that impressive to drive. It’s a very good first effort and if it had arrived at the same time as the new generation Mustang in 2004 it would have been an excellent challenger. As it is, it seems a day late and a dollar short. For now at least, even though the Mustang is less powerful than the Camaro, it remains more fun to drive and frankly I remain a Mustang fan.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

4 thoughts on “Review: 2010 Chevy Camaro RS V6

    • ianholmes2010

      I owned a 1984 Z28 Camaro with all options and loved its’ raw power. It was a decent car but only had 190HP. I owned a 1998 Mustang GT Convertible and loved its’ punch and expressive exhaust note. It has a respectable 225HP. They were both great pony cars but the Mustang handled better as it was smaller and 14 years newer/modern. I recently purchased a 2010 Camaro, 6cylinder, 6 speed auto. I find it extremely quick with tons of torque for it’s size and weight. It is far superior to my 84 Camaro and my 98 Mustang in every way except for exhaust note. The exhaust note of the Camaro 6.0 liter V8 was fierce and the exhaust note of the Mustang 4.6 liter V8 was mean and sensuous.

      However, both the 84 Camaro and the 98 Mustang had terribly noisy cabins and hoppy back ends. Neither car was competitive with a european sports car but they could lay down rubber like no european car under $25,000 could at the time. The 2010 Camaro is throughly modern by comparison. I test drove the 2010 Mustang in manual and automatic V6 and V8 and found them to be fun drives but not inspiring in any way what so ever. They have not progressed much form my 98 Mustang. They are a good choice for someone who has never owned a pony car and doesn’t have much money to spend. The Mustang will do the job for a newbie but not for someone who’s been around awhile. After having lived with the 2010 Camaro I can report that the car excites from the sheet metal to the throttle pedal. The interior is nothing to get excited about but it isn’t distracting either. People who are passionate about cars usually fall in love with a car for a combination of styling and performance. The 2010 Camaro arguably has the best exterior styling of any sub $40,000 car and gives you the most bang for the buck. Heads turn when a 2010 Camaro drives by and that’s something that just doesn’t happen when a Mustang or Charger or Challenger drives down the road. The 2010 Camaro is a rocket in any engine configuration and handles well enough for 98% of the people who will purchase one. One aspect of the car that is often overlooked is that the cabin is dead quiet in the V6 and reasonably quiet in the V8. This is vast improvement over old Camaro’s and Mustangs alike. When money was no object I chose the 2010 Camaro because it’s the right car for fun, performance, beauty and everyday driving. If you do track days, then you should buy a Shelby or Saleen Mustang or wait until Chevy builds a Camaro Z28 which will likely be a V6 with twin turbos.

      Happy driving!

  • kenhoward

    It is not often that I will get behind the wheel of a new car, then feel like immediately getting out again. That’s how the new Camaro’s interior environment with its lack of outward visibility struck me, and while it looks gorgeous – from the outside – that is not enough for me to enjoy the drive. It will be the ’11 Mustang for me (I savored every word of the exquisite “Deep Dive” writeup at Autoblog!).

  • dcm

    I rented a Camaro a few weeks ago while on a business trip. Obviously it looks great. But the main thing that stuck with me was the incredibly horrible visibility. It was truly difficult to change lanes with full confidence things were clear.

    The car does go. I switched off the traction control, mashed the brake to the floor, followed by doing the same with the accelerator. The result: a cloud of smoke that would do Jeremy Clarkson proud. Like Jezzer, I’m no fan of flappy paddle shifters. I’ve used them in several cars, namely the M3. I don’t like them. The Camaro doesn’t even have flappy paddles as you point out. They are a gimmick on this car. The 6-speed automatic is pretty nice if you have to have an automatic.

    For Chevy, a good effort that fan boys will pay for. Did you see Fifth Gear’s test of the Camaro? Apparently these are being imported into the UK: (there is more than one story, the 1st part is on drifting, followed by the Camaro)