2011 Chevy Camaro: Strong But Rough At Edges

2011 Chevy Camaro: Strong But Rough At Edges

I don’t know about you, but I like the revamped version of Hawaii 50 and Chevy must love it. After all, the lead car in the police/action show is the new and improve Camaro (Danny keeps complaining he never gets to drive it; he’s probably the lucky one), but then there’s McGarrett’s Silverado and the many other Chevys that just happen to populate the show from Tahoes to Suburbans through Equinoxes. Could it be that Chevy may just happen to sponsor the show? Hmmmm, I wonder?

With that said, you have to marvel at the lines of the Camaro. They are fantastic. The slightly overhanging hood and recessed lighting modules and the nicely integrated grille play off very nicely against the flared fenders. The mid-body beltline is carried back through the rear quarters and the back end is a very nice integration of bumper and rear lights.

From the outside, it looks awesome while from the inside, I’d rather drive a Fiat 500 Cabriolet (yet, you heard that right because at least I can see where I am going and what’s going on around me and no the Fiat can’t won’t even beat an old Citroen 2CV off the line – take a look at “American Graffiti” the next time it’s one and check out the vintage 2CV that one of the characters drives. He’s the one pining for the blond in the 56 Ford T-Bird.).

I know Chevy will probably pin my ears back for saying this, but, the driver’s position in the Camaro could use a healthy dose of engineering. The ergonomics are lousy and the steering wheel is just this side of weird, but at least the road feedback is good and I’ll give this boost the Camaro up several performance rungs because Chevy chose to make this a real performance machine – front-engine/rear-drive and 50-50 balance; the front-drive crowd has been getting away with its deception for way too long – but that’s my opinion.

You can’t ask a car’s driving wheels to also be its turning wheels and to carry the weight of the driveline at the same time without something giving and in this case every front-drive car that I know – even the good ones from Honda and Hyundai – suffer from terminal understeer.

But, I’m getting away from the subject of this brief paean (yes, it’s a real word) to the Camaro. And I will say the lines look great. As I noted, they carry nicely from the front end through the sides and the hood merges nicely into the sloped glass of the windshield and then on through the slightly sloping hoodline. It’s when you get to the sail panels that I have some problems, as in where did everything go. Now, I have to admit, I’m not the tallest driver on the planet but even if I were I six-footer (I have a brother who is and when I’ve had chats with him, I’ve enjoyed talking with his chest, so I’m a tad on the smallish side – short happens and you live with it; the best thing is that I found a bride who fits me just right, but we’re not going any further on that score) I’d still have trouble seeing to the rear quarters. The rear window is way to small and judging the rear end is next to impossible. The front end is pretty good, but I’ve also found that the fenders do get in the way, at times, of a clear driving line. At the end of the day – I had to get that cliché into one of my columns and I finally did – you do learn to live with the quirkiness of the Camaro and you do fall in love with its lines.

Yes, the outside design is just short of perfect for me (at least with the current crop of models) and the wide variety of trim packages available from the base LS to the 2SS – there are five – make this a vehicle you can tailor pretty well within is limitations.

That it does have limitations is obvious. You can live with the standard six powerplant quite nicely as it has been improved to match the Ford Mustang’s 300-plus-horsepower V6. The 3.6-liter V-6 standard powerplants puts 312 ponies under the hood and gives you lots of torque to play with a 278 pounds feet and since it’s front-engine/rear-drive you can slide through a corner with a little extra pressure on the accelerator and opposite lock cranked in as you head for the apex of the corner. There’s a whole range of V-8 options available including a pavement ripping 6.7-liter V-8 with 426 pounds feet of torque and of course there are the usual comfort and convenience items that make the driver’s environment livable. The rear seat is good for very good friends or very small children or packages because it is tiny and getting into and out of it requires the skill of a contortionist. However, since most Camaros carry one or two it’s really a null issue.

One thing that does get my knickers in a twist (no I’m not British, I just like the phrase) is a heads-up display. I thought that type of shlock disappeared a decade or more ago, but no, it’s here in the Camaro and it’s a definite distractor.

I could keep going through the pros and cons of the Camaro but those who love it will continue to love it and those who don’t won’t.

I love the the lines and am very lukewarm to the rest, but I’m entitled like you are.

The only thing I find really weird about this is that at a time of $4-plus gas Chevy comes out with a 300-plus-horsepower V-6. It must be kicking itself right now and hoping gas will start coming down soon.

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