• Apr 9th 2009 at 8:00PM
  • 122
2010 Chevrolet Camaro - Click above for a high-res gallery

You know you're off to a good evening when it starts with the delivery of a Victory Red pre-production 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS. I hadn't even pulled away from the parking garage where it was waiting for me, and it was already causing a ruckus. A young boy, waiting with his extended family for their car to be retrieved, saw the ponycar roll up. His eyes turned into saucers. "Dad, it's the car from Transformers!" he sputtered, tugging on his father's sleeve. Dad immediately chimed in with, "Whoa. Niiiice car." Grandpa looked at the car, locked eyes with me, broke into a grin and just gave a thumbs up. The Camaro elicits those sort of responses a lot. You know, because it's awesome.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Alex Núñez / Weblogs, Inc.

I can't recall the last time I've seen such a purely visceral, positive reaction to a car. People don't simply like the Camaro – they adore it... and they let you know. The best reactions of all came from a pair of NYPD officers I happened upon when pulled over to use the phone and snap some photos. "Whoa! Look at this!" I heard, as the two unis approached. Turns out, one was a Corvette driver, and he was floored by the Camaro. He and his partner circled the car, commenting on everything. F-bombs dropped repeatedly, but only in the most complimentary of fashions. They checked out the interior. They walked around some more. "I may have to put up my 'Vette and get one of these," the first officer said with a look of resignation on his face. He was totally serious. Eventually, they thanked me for letting them poke around and retreated back to their Crown Vic parked across the street.

I was done too, so I clambered back into the Chevy and fired up the LS3, ready to head to a pre-show shindig with some of the Autoblog crew. As I was about to pull away, the first officer called out, "Hey, do me a favor."

"Sure thing," I replied.

"When you leave, give it a little extra. I wanna see it."

Pause. Think. "You got it," I said, confident in the knowledge that this was the best possible encounter involving a 426-horsepower muscle coupe and the Boys in Blue.

The first officer's partner, riding shotgun in the Vic, looked at his rear-view mirror, then turned his head to double-check for oncoming traffic. "You're clear," he said. He was smiling. At this point, I was, too. So I put the shifter into first, turned away from the curb and punched it. This is a language the Camaro speaks fluently. Down the street I went, wheels spinning. No red-and-blue lights. No nightmarishly-expensive ticket. Hell, if there had been room, I think the cops would have had me do donuts.

The happy encounters continued throughout the evening, with drivers hanging out of their windows, giggling like kids, quizzing me about the car. At stoplights, people did double-takes as they realized what was in front of them. Phone cams were whipped out like switchblades. And yes, more than a few Transformers references were made by random bystanders. That particular product placement deal seems to have worked rather well for The General. Throughout all this, the happiest guy in the picture was me. Nevermind the attention it draws, the Camaro is just a ball to drive (Full Disclosure: This, coming from a Ford Mustang GT owner).

Power is simply monstrous and on-demand. The Camaro SS is so testosterone-infused, the FDA ought to regulate it as a male-enhancement product. Shifts with the manual gearbox are reasonably short and crisp. The subdued, muscular burble at idle turns into a full-throated bellow when you mash the loud pedal. And mark my words: with an aftermarket exhaust, this thing's going to sound utterly malevolent. Children will cry.

And though the Camaro will drag knuckles at stoplight showdowns with the best of 'em, it's very drivable. Yes, it's a big car, but it feels smaller than Dodge's Challenger. The SS suspension is admittedly punishing on pothole-strewn pavement, and trundling along on lower Manhattan's cobblestone streets, I felt like a bobblehead doll in an earthquake. But the minute you get onto a better surface, all that stiffness translates into solid road road feel, and on the highway, the Camaro's a perfect partner. It just tracks and goes. You look forward to sweepers as if they're presents. Long straightaways are as good as Christmas morning. Speed limits? The Grinch. The Camaro just gobbles this stuff up, and the Brembos tucked behind the factory 20-inchers rein it all back in.

Inside, you get a straightforward, simple cabin. No, it's not as well-detailed as the new Mustang's -- so let's get that piece of business out of the way. I liked it anyway. My red 1SS-trim tester was fitted with grippy and comfortable cloth-covered sport seats. Instead of the four-gauge rally cluster on the center console, there was just a small storage tray in its place. The instrument panel is all hard plastic, but it looks fine, and the unique-to-Camaro stereo and HVAC controls manage to look cool while being intuitive to use. The retro-style cluster ties everything in, with blue-lit numerals housed within conical surrounds and red needles angling towards the driver, the whole package is both deep and legible. One of the things we all gripe about here is when stuff like the gauges or stereo are obviously parts-bin materials. In this case, GM gave the Camaro unique instruments and accessories that are both attractive and functional. It's easier to live with the other less impressive plastic bits when the automaker goes out of its way to give you model-specific elements for the things you look at the most. Sure, you can find vehicles with a nicer interiors, sharper handling, and more power. And yes, the trunk opening is surprisingly tiny and the low roofline that makes the Camaro look wicked while standing still doesn't exactly help outward visibility. But fair is fair: GM nailed the important stuff with the Camaro. This is a car that grabs you on an emotional level. It is relentlessly, unapologetically, unequivocally badass.

At the end of the night, I drove the Chevy home -- a nice, light-traffic drive on the Merritt Parkway. I made one last pit-stop at a gobsmacked buddy's house before easing the big red beast into my own empty garage bay, where it spent the rest of the night. Come the next morning, it was time to drive back into the city. The auto show was beginning, and I needed to return the Camaro on my way to Javits. It was snowing when I rolled back up to the parking garage. With regret, I handed the key fob to the parking attendant, flagged down a cab, and joined the rest of the gang for the show. I thought about the Camaro all day. I need another shot at it. Less than 24 hours with it was just a tease. This was a one-night stand that I could see turning into a full-blown affair.

Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own – we do not accept sponsored editorial.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Been to the NY auto show to check this car out. Nice to look at,,,at first glance. But, I was extremely disappointed when i shut the passenger door and there it was, that shuttering, rattling door sound and the shaky door panel that brought me right back to when the camaro went straight down to quality hell back in the 80's and 90's. Geeeeeze, after all these years waiting for this car to finally be touched, you mean GM couldnt get it right? Your comment about the way it drove over the manhatten bumps,,,,,,here we go again, another car that will just fall to pieces just weeks after using it for what we bought it for, our drive to work. Go GM, the years of trying to to pamper us with a "for the moment" impressive looking, but terribly put together car, are most definately OVER. Although many will run right to the dealer to get one this year, I cant wait to hear the comments after owning it for just a year. At the show, i ran back and forth 3 times to shut the doors on the Challenger, then the Camaro,,,,,,,take the door shutting challenge yourself, tell me what you think, there are a few more days left to the NY auto show.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Again, this is American Muscle, just as bainssam said. There is NO subsitute. Much like I buy cheaper clothes since I really don't care about it that much, some people buy a Prius because they don't care they look like a fool.

      Here, let's start a new argument: All the electric cars on the way, including the Volt, will burn more coal unless the liberals allow us to build nuclear plants, so that is most likely worse than just driving a gas powered vehicle.

      An the hydrogen car causes pollution because we will have to build the infrastructure to fuel these vehicles.

      Yeah gas guzzling!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Just makes my 68 that much better, mwuahahaha
      • 6 Years Ago
      Best "review" I've read so far this yr from this site. And ofcourse Alex and his fantastic city-scape photography.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Awesome post!
      • 6 Years Ago
      i want your job.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Me thinks Frylock is confusing the Cobalt SS and the Camaro SS.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Woah, why is my profile link messed up? (This is a test.)
        • 6 Years Ago
        Weird. It works now.

        Sorry for the spam, guys.
      • 6 Years Ago
      While the new Camaro is growing on me, I still can't help but think I would rather have a G8 GXP. Performance and pricing are reasonably similar right now, the G8 GXP is much more practical than the Camaro, and I actually like the GXP's interior better.

      Am I weird for thinking this?
        • 6 Years Ago
        I prefer the G8 too, but that's just because I'm a dyed-in-the-wool 4-door man.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Nope. You're not alone in it, either.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This car...
      I swear the worst thing about it is that it is going to be turned into the next "me too" car. Forgive me for being jealous, but I want one, but I dont want anyone else too.

      As for the above comments about IS-F, M3 etc; etc; etc;
      You have to understand that though GM is getting a bad rep for the bankruptcy - bailout issues, the guys behind this car are absolutely genius. This car, the CTS-V, Cobalt-SS, Z06, ZR1 etc; etc; they produce value you can not get anywhere else. Who cares about the interior, they made some effort, but honestly if you're the kind of person who sweats a little bit of plastic trim than this car is not for you. If you're the kind of person who absolutely loves to drive, then give it a test drive! I dare you not to smile.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Very nice review and this car is beautiful.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I guess it's the red...but that car doesn't do it for me. It's what I'd expect the V6 version to look like...plain...not the SS. I'd definitely have to get it in a different color and put different wheels on right away. I also agree the interior isn't what I was expecting, relative to other manufacturers. While I don' t have the highest opinion, I'll reserve judgement until I read more reviews and see the performance numbers come out.
        • 6 Years Ago
        13 flat in the 1/4 and 25mpg highway, what other numbers do you need?
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