Made In USA

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Return of American Muscle.

While procrastinating the writing of this latest blog post, I stumbled upon this gem of an article on the beefcake of the American road. Rather than re-craft an article paying homage to this one, I decided to just re-post the original, hoisted directly and word for word from the Arts & Leisure review.

2010 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS: Best muscle car ever?

The 2010 Camaro 2SS

If we had been asked whether General Motors could pull off a muscle-car revival, endowing a thoroughly modern, well-equipped automobile with the personality of an early GTO or Mustang, we would have bet the negative. And we would have lost.

Impressed as we were with the 304-horsepower 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V-6 we drove last fall, something wasn’t quite right. Maybe it was the faintly whiny exhaust note or the silky smoothness of the automatic transmission. The ride was unexpectedly quiet and smooth, the handling crisp and agile, more like a BMW 3-Series than the 1971 Pontiac GTO we briefly had the privilege of driving back in the day.

Then, more recently, we got our hands on the new Camaro SS. Subtly badged with the familiar red logo on the right rear quarter, the sweet-looking coupe’s 426-horsepower V-8 throbs and rumbles like the 396-cubic-inch V-8 of old. The lesser Camaros have the edge in price appeal, starting at $22,680, compared with a base price $11,000 higher for the SS. And they’re not exactly underpowered. But only 20 percent of the hot-selling Camaros are fitted with the cheaper V-6 package. The people who want muscle cars want the real thing, and the SS is it.

Our 2010 Inferno Orange Metallic Camaro SS, with a sticker price of $37,015, struck us as a solid value because Chevrolet factories aren’t turning out this model as fast as they can sell it. And when you add up all of its assets — the big engine, six-speed stick shift, luxury features and overall feeling of quality — you get the impression this Camaro will hold its value if you don’t drive it too hard.

The car’s only major drawbacks are the cramped rear seat, narrow trunk opening and poor visibility to the rear. (The standard Ultrasonic rear park assist made backing up a little less stressful.) Getting in and out of the Camaro’s front seat is fairly easy except when the car is parked in close quarters and the long doors can be opened only part way. As a practical matter, however, these aren’t deficiencies; they’re part of the price you pay for owning a muscle car.

We were grateful for the opportunity to put quite a few miles on our Camaro, driving from Bethel, Conn., to Bridgeport and Southington, among a number of shorter trips. The long hood, raised in the middle, was a constant reminder of the brute lurking underneath, but didn’t really interfere with frontal vision. The style and quality of the interior appointments are at a high level, so much so that this model compares favorably with premium Japanese and even European competitors.

The Camaro SS with standard transmission is rated at 16 mpg city, 24 highway. We averaged 20.5. The Camaro uses regular gasoline.

Is this the best muscle car ever built? Aficionados of the breed would quarrel, but an argument certainly can be made for a new Camaro that breaks new ground without abandoning its storied roots.