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Old 05-10-2009, 10:27 PM   #1
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Drove (2) 2010 Camaros this weekend.

The first one was a black LT. The second was a red RS. Both were 3.6 autos. Sorry, no pics, you'll just have to take my word for it. You've what it looks like, you know the features, so I'll draw some comparisons for entertainment's sake.

In my opinion:

"It's big, it's beautiful, and you're gonna love it!"

The good

Walking up to the car, you know this is a new leaf for GM. Body gaps are tight. It looks GOOD. Salesmen are swooning in dark corners of the dealership just waiting to approach you about the car. After all, it's been a while since they've seen interested customers walk onto their lots. There's a Z06, a Callaway, and a standard C6 parked not 30' from this black 1LT I'm looking at, and in the last 10 minutes, nobody has paid any attention to them. They're all standing around the Camaro.

This is Seattle. What's worse, is I'm on the Eastside where all the rich Microsofties and early Boeing retirees perch. This is the land of the luxury lease. American cars are what everyone did in the 80's when they were starting out. If it's not slick and foreign now, it probably belongs in Renton (which is a not very great area to the south of here). Personally, I don't believe in these mantras, but then again don't peg me as "equal opportunity" because I don't currently own an American car built in the last 35 years.

And here we all are at a GM dealership oogling the new Camaro. It's that stunning. The "mullet" car got a nice short cropped haircut, started weight lifting, quit smoking, went to school, and now it's showing off like a stud.

It still feels like a Camaro. This is good. No, it's great. Step over the rocker, slink into the vault, and recline back into that "go-fast" position that's so familiar in these rocket cars. Close the door and hear a thud--It's conjuring up images of a dungeon and it's strangely arousing. This car wants to play hard and naughty. The inside is dark, and it's hard to see out.

Granted, this is a 3.6 auto, so I was expecting some junior-level playing. The car rides soft and heavy--but don't let that fool you. In everyday driving, it feels great, and it's much appreciated for those of us who could crack windshields and make sunvisors fall off while crossing railroad tracks. This new Camaro is composed. Dare I say tuned? GM has accomplished giving the cars big wheels, but isolating road noise. They've given it good handling without inserting bushings made out of brick. Cudos.

If you need not be annoyed by exhaust note, the 3.6 is for you. Below about 3k it sounds like every other GM V6 I've ever driven. Business-ey. Sightly mundane. Mini-vanish? But once you've got your foot into it and you start flogging it a bit, you know its having fun. And you're having fun. It sounds GOOD. Not like a raspy Flowmaster bolted to some kid's 3.8 (I was there 10 years ago). GM thought about the sound of this car, and as an enthusiast, it pleases. But it's not intrusive. The 6-speed shifts crisp and plentiful and keeps the car singing a good tune.

Switchgear is...switchy. Soft and clicky. GM has taken after the Germans slightly with this car instead of the typical mousetrap style switches and Playskool *****. No, it's not stellar, but it's above acceptable. It's a new leaf for GM. Let it grow. The 21st century updates like a multi-function display between the gauges, text radio readout, remote start, switchblade key fob, and airbags galore are much, much appreciated.

The Bad

Before I start, these are loving taunts at GM. Literally--palm to the forehead stuff that I think was overlooked and things I have faith someday that GM will see as the same.

The sunroof. Not only does it NOT slide back into the roof (rather, up and over the exterior roof panel), but it drops the headliner a full inch with a big, nasty, unfinished gap of darkness. My GTI has a sunroof which retracts Inside the car, and all you see is a nice shallow black piece of trim where the headliner meets the opening. This is a car that had the ultimate open-sky option--"t-tops." And now we get a poorly trimmed sunroof that mimics aftermarket installations in a 1990 Ford Probe. Brilliant.

The key. Germans have been using switchblade, laser-cut keys since...since...well, it's been a long time. Since I was very young and a license wasn't attainable for another 6 years. This is new for GM, and apparently the top execs thought it would be appropriate to only give you ONE. The other key (which your s/o will get?) is just a regular old key. And there's certainly no valet key so you can lock everyone out of your console and glove box (registration papers, etc). This is not a way to surprise and delight your customers, especially since that 2nd fob will likely cost in the ballpark of $200+ retail.

No in-dash nav. This is an era where a $200 phone comes with a touch-screen interface and a $99 bubblejet printer comes with a 65k color LCD screen. And the best GM can do is a LCD dot-matrix screen on a $35,000 uplevel SS? Or even a $27,000 1LT?

The center console. The 4" wide traction control button is a bit much. A nice backlit square button would have done just fine. The big plastic shifter surrounded by a big plastic gate is a little junior-cheesy considering it's front and center in the car. And it's planted in a huge plastic surround. No aluminum trim, no synthetic shift boot. Just a giant bar of plastic.

The sun visors. I pay attention to these because these are "details." And, the last ones in my Camaro were warped and fell off. They suck. It's like a $2 Walmart binder. You can feel the vinyl melt-seam flashing on the edges and then there's that cheesy paper holder on the inside which is just another flap of vinyl melted to make a loop. Not cool GM. Part of the fun of owning a car for a long time is looking at stuff and knowing it's held up like a brick ****house. We want a car that fends of normal wear and tear for as long as possible.

The front end. There's a lot of black, unfinished plastic "fencing" on the grille and lower bumper cover. A lot of other manufacturers have resorted to honeycomb shapes, or better yet, eliminating this kind of stuff. To me, it feels like styling without purpose. And more appropriate for a "styled" Kia than a Chevrolet performance product.

As far as driving is concerned, I can't say much. I appreciate that the car feels vault-ish, but for some enthusiasts who remember 300hp LS1's, this is going to feel too cushy. And I worry that the sunken seating position will be a turnoff for less "enthusiast" buyers who consider things like "being able to see" an important proposition. All it means is they're unwilling to spend an afternoon slaloming through cones backwards to sort the corners of the car.

That reminds me...Dealers are very hesitant to let people drive these cars which brings me to experience regarding...

The Dealers

I won't name names. My experience at three separate dealerships was horrible. God I hate dealing with American car dealers. My experience at Audi, BMW, and VW dealers has been much more pleasant. Negotiations are professional, introductions are sincere. None of this "used car" business of shucking and diving, laying on the grease thick and plentiful. No balloons or free beef.

I was going to slap the **** out of the first salesman and ask for another one when, literally, the first thing he said "We've got the lowest markup in town. Only $5,000 over MSRP."

I flat out told him I wasn't going to pay it and told him I'd come back in a year when they're dumping them in the local ads at a discount. And then I told him I know the car's been here for at least 5 days and that it's unsold...so...are you going to treat me like a potential customer or not? (This allowed me to complete a test drive. When I drove up, they initially told me no).

The second dealer was much more interested, but also equally unprofessional. "We don't want to let you drive it unless we know we might have a deal." To that, I said "I'll drive it, and then I'll tell you if I'm interested." That worked--fair enough--we went for a drive. And when we got back, the salesman assured me I couldn't go wrong here, as they have the lowest markup in town, "only $5,000 above MSRP." Really? That's what the dealer across town told me.

Needless to say, i walked away from Saturday more confused about the car than when I started. It's beautiful and has enough to keep me, as an enthusiast, entertained. But the car is lacking in certain key areas and I don't know if I want to continue my driving experience into my 30's adorned in big pieces of plastic and vinyl. Will the styling die? Is this the latest action figure in the Transformers lineup only to fall as sharply as ticket sales after the initial release?

For me, personally, I guess I need to answer the question if this is the right time to "get back together" with my old love from high school. If one thing is true, he/she has aged well.
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:12 PM   #2
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Great write up. Really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to my experience at the dealers as well.

So the sunroof is that bad? I was planning on getting that option, but after your review and thinking about it, I don't want a sunroof. If I wanted that I'd rather wait a year for the convertible.
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:32 PM   #3
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Great read. Im still waiting to find one close to test. I hate Indiana...
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:45 PM   #4
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Great write up!
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:59 PM   #5
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I have a feeling the V6 2010 Camaro is going to surprise a lot more buyers than folks expect.

These notes about the sunvisors. I noticed the visors too when I sat in one at NAIAS in January. I don't see the big deal. As the OP said - it's a dark interior anyway and thus, I believe the visors won't get as much use as for example, a pickup truck's. So I don't see the importance of having oh-so-high-lux materials there.

Finally no post of someone's dealership experience would be complete, without some whining about the annoying habit of dealers to make a healthy profit. How dare they? What makes them think they can just put prices out there that match the market for a new product? Someone needs to politely INFORM THEM that they are only allowed the same, identical 'minimal' profit on ALL their vehicles sold! I mean really... SHAME on them for trying to maximize the profits on new models in high demand

More incredible, who are these buyers, willing to pay over sticker? Do they think the whole world is their own personal EBay, where the most serious and committed buyers get priority? Get in line and wait your turn comrade! Be patient and wait, while you thank the glorious State for the chance to someday own a new product!
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:47 AM   #6
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I have a feeling the V6 2010 Camaro is going to surprise a lot more buyers than folks expect.

These notes about the sunvisors. I noticed the visors too when I sat in one at NAIAS in January. I don't see the big deal. As the OP said - it's a dark interior anyway and thus, I believe the visors won't get as much use as for example, a pickup truck's. So I don't see the importance of having oh-so-high-lux materials there.
Once a car approaches that $30k category, finishing details and "over-engineering" are expected. A lot of cheaper cars are setting the bar pretty high these days, and it's these kinds of things that, 10 years later, start to fall apart. Buyers want to retain value in their cars. Third gens didn't win any points with their drooping headliners and warping door armrests, and the 4th gens certainly didn't earn any points with their cheap seat leather.

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Finally no post of someone's dealership experience would be complete, without some whining about the annoying habit of dealers to make a healthy profit. How dare they? What makes them think they can just put prices out there that match the market for a new product? Someone needs to politely INFORM THEM that they are only allowed the same, identical 'minimal' profit on ALL their vehicles sold! I mean really... SHAME on them for trying to maximize the profits on new models in high demand

More incredible, who are these buyers, willing to pay over sticker? Do they think the whole world is their own personal EBay, where the most serious and committed buyers get priority? Get in line and wait your turn comrade! Be patient and wait, while you thank the glorious State for the chance to someday own a new product!
I understand dealers need to make a profit and that it's not equal on all cars. My issue is that "dealers" are some of the most aggressive and ruthless people during a sale. Not only are they asking for an extra $5,000 on top of an MSRP - "full price" with a profit margin already built in, but they're going to build profit into your trade-in if you've got one. Especially on a highly depreciating asset, I expect more of an equitable deal. Or, I'll expect to wait, as I said, until they have to sell it at a discount below MSRP a year or two from now. After all, it's a regular production car. If it's not the first or the last VIN, it's just like every other car on the road to be bought/sold as a commodity.
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:58 AM   #7
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Quasar:

Are you sure about the 1 key? Or did they possibly have the other in storage and only give you 1 key?

Also: What about the exhaust note? We both had 3.8L's with exhaust's, I had a borla and learned quickly what a mistake that was. Did it sound like an Infiniti G35 coupe? 350Z?
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Old 05-11-2009, 10:14 AM   #8
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Quasar:

Are you sure about the 1 key? Or did they possibly have the other in storage and only give you 1 key?

Also: What about the exhaust note? We both had 3.8L's with exhaust's, I had a borla and learned quickly what a mistake that was. Did it sound like an Infiniti G35 coupe? 350Z?
At the second dealer I visited, they specificially told me "this is a new key for GM" and that you only get one. I was told the 2nd key is just a regular key. I'm taking the guy's word for it, but it seems very very odd. I'd probably end up buying a 2nd switchblade fob for the car anyway.

The car is surprisingly quiet. At low RPM, the exhaust note is unintrusive. Once you've got your foot into it, you get more of a tuned sound. I wouldn't compare it to a 350Z/G35 because it's not. It definitely retains GM V6 sound, but it's more musical. Not raspy/wheezy like you'd expect out of a 3.1/3.4 or even 3.8 at higher RPM.
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:43 PM   #9
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Honestly I didn't read your whole write up. Mostly because, no offence, but they are the same good points made by other as well as the same bad points. Believe me, I know it is very very exciting to have driven the car, I have driven a 2SS myself, but i really don't think your write up of good or bad is going to change the minds of those who really love the car and are planning on getting. I know that the bad points are things that you want GM to improve on. The fact of the matter is, in order to make the "perfect" Camaro that you want would make it alot more expensive and what you want might not be the same as what other people want. There are people out there that like the front end, the sunroof, etc.

I'll agree, there are some things that could be done a little better, but in order to make those changes it would make the car more expensive!

One thing that is coming to mind, but I don't know really how else to say it is; I'd like to see you design a better Camaro taking into account price and safety.

And...One last note......If you have check on some of the other posting about the "t-top" issue, then you would know that it is not possible for this car to have t-tops and still be structurally safe from the factory. IF there was a way to do it, again it would be way to expensive for this to be an affordable production car (I have no doubt that someone out there somehow will end up making a t-top car by means of afterwork fabrication though). So I don't think GM will be reconsidering that any time soon.

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Old 05-11-2009, 02:34 PM   #10
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i rolled my firebird n that had t tops i love t tops but i will never get em again the passenger side was the side it landed on n the t bar crushed all the way down to the seat any further n it woulda killed my passenger so t tops arent safe at all
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:16 PM   #11
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[...]One thing that is coming to mind, but I don't know really how else to say it is; I'd like to see you design a better Camaro take into account price and safety.
Well, I hate to disappoint, because I'm not an enginner. I'm just a consumer that votes with my dollars. My criticism comes from the fact that I've seen smaller, "lesser" cars with nicer appointments at lower price points. So obviously, it can be done.

Is it possible considering some of the Camaro's other appointments, i.e. 19" wheels, larger tires, a high output V6/V8? Maybe not from a financial standpoint, but at $30,000 I'm willing to pay an extra $500-$1,000 for a car that's had a little more attention spent in the details, if that's what it costs to make it right. When I look at dropping that kind of money on a car, especially in the $35k range, my eyes start to wander in the direction of BMW...

Maybe it's my age, or my past car ownership, but I really look at cars as a whole. 95% of the time I interact with my car is going to be in the driver's seat, piloting it via those same controls day after day. The Camaro is forcing a tradeoff between performance and quality and that's what makes me uncomfortable.

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And...One last note......If you have check on some of the other posting about the "t-top" issue, then you would know that it is not possible for this car to have t-tops and still be structurally safe from the factory. IF there was a way to do it, again it would be way to expensive for this to be an affordable production car (I have no doubt that someone out there somehow will end up making a t-top car by means of afterwork fabrication though). So I don't think GM will be reconsidering that any time soon.
I'll forgive you because you said you didn't read my entire post. I'm not advocating for another Camaro with t-tops, and I fully understand the engineering concerns regarding safety. But I'm saying a poorly designed sunroof really isn't enough to please those of us who owned t-top cars. Maybe if the sunroof retracted into the roof, or if the car came with a glass panel type top (think Scion TC) with a sliding portion? You decide.
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:01 PM   #12
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Good write up

I think you should try out an SS before you pass judgement on the ride/suspension. Lots of people that have driven both say its night and day.
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:09 PM   #13
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Good write up

I think you should try out an SS before you pass judgement on the ride/suspension. Lots of people that have driven both say its night and day.
I think an SS is going to be a little harder to strongarm a test-drive. I'd imagine the first one that comes in will sell very quickly and the dealer will be more than hesitant to allow free test-drive miles on it.

Like I said though, the softer feel of the V6 still felt very good. And it's much appreciated. As much as I love my GTI, road noise is a BIG complaint. It goes with the territory of small cars with low profile tires.
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Old 05-11-2009, 06:44 PM   #14
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The center console. The 4" wide traction control button is a bit much. A nice backlit square button would have done just fine. The big plastic shifter surrounded by a big plastic gate is a little junior-cheesy considering it's front and center in the car. And it's planted in a huge plastic surround. No aluminum trim, no synthetic shift boot. Just a giant bar of plastic.
Don't forget the parking brake, another afterthought that looks like it came straight out of a 1980's economy car. It should should be better integrated into the console as opposed a stick of cheap plastic jutting out like a tree limb. Even the fourth gen handle got a leather wrap.

That being said, it's very good to have to go to these lengths to find something to complain about.
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Old 05-11-2009, 07:53 PM   #15
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Once a car approaches that $30k category, finishing details and "over-engineering" are expected. A lot of cheaper cars are setting the bar pretty high these days, and it's these kinds of things that, 10 years later, start to fall apart. Buyers want to retain value in their cars. Third gens didn't win any points with their drooping headliners and warping door armrests, and the 4th gens certainly didn't earn any points with their cheap seat leather.
The new Camaro's interior panels and materials are appropriate for its price segment and from what I've seen, tastefully done with great quality. Look hard enough at any mid-priced make/model and you can find little details to fret about.

Quote:
I understand dealers need to make a profit and that it's not equal on all cars. My issue is that "dealers" are some of the most aggressive and ruthless people during a sale. Not only are they asking for an extra $5,000 on top of an MSRP - "full price" with a profit margin already built in, but they're going to build profit into your trade-in if you've got one. Especially on a highly depreciating asset, I expect more of an equitable deal. Or, I'll expect to wait, as I said, until they have to sell it at a discount below MSRP a year or two from now. After all, it's a regular production car. If it's not the first or the last VIN, it's just like every other car on the road to be bought/sold as a commodity.
You have described your own best option. Don't like the current prices? Wait a while. Stand by the road while those lucky few first buyers rumble by in their new Camaros. Eventually you won't have to pay your dreaded 'obscene' profit to a dealer (or you could come to Detroit, where lots of dealers are already offering deals below sticker - eg the dealer I visited, Liberty Chevy in New Hudson MI). But those who are most devoted are finding a way to get a new Camaro already
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