On paper, this car is an enthusiast's dream: a big V-8 underhood, a six-speed manual, independent rear suspension, and rear-wheel drive. You'd expect it to be completely amazing after such a long hiatus, but the Camaro is far from perfect.
The car is far too heavy and too quiet. It makes a lot of sacrifices in the name of design. You can forget about putting large objects in the trunk, because the opening is oddly shaped and not very deep. The shifter looks cool, but it irritates me to feel the stitching on the palm of my hand when I shift. I was expecting to be blown away by the 426 hp here, since the Ford Mustang has 315 hp and feels quite nice, but the Camaro is so heavy it doesn't feel any faster. Actually, sometimes it feels slower. Toss in the fact that the LS3 can barely be heard through the exhaust, and you really feel like you're in a car that isn't sure if it's supposed to be fast, refined, or good looking. It does each of those things to a certain degree, but the clear winner is design.
But that doesn't mean the Camaro isn't fun. I took the Camaro to a drive-in movie and had a blast. As soon as we parked, a flock of children descended upon the Camaro and asked what it was. Nobody seemed to notice the Dodge Challenger a few cars over. The highlight of the experience was watching the trailer for the new Transformers movie while I was sitting in a Camaro. Did I mention my date is a huge fan of Transformers? The only way that could have worked out better would be if we had arrived in a Bumblebee edition Camaro.
Keeping in mind the Camaro is a muscle car, not a pure sports car, this is a great way to spend $35,000. Those who wish to spend more time carving up mountain roads than doing burnouts will probably be happier in a Nissan 370Z, but there are a lot of people who just like to go fast, turn left, and repeat. Now that group has another exciting choice.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor