Why Your Car Sucks/Rocks: Chevrolet Camaro (Fifth Generation)
Many have called it “America’s Car” with the same hubris as calling the Dallas Cowboys “America’s Team.” Such a fervent defense of a single car as the apogee of American motoring could only be the product of the self-involved bigwigs over at General Motors. I feel for the fanboys of the Chevrolet Camaro; they have been toyed with and abused, ever since the departure of the fourth-generation Camaro in 2002. After axing Pontiac and the Camaro throughout the 2000’s, GM brought back the Camaro like it was no big deal. It brought tears to the eyes of American Muscle fans, which in turn induced eye-rolling from European and Japanese onlookers. Though the result of terrific marketing, let’s be straight about one thing: the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro is a great American car, which has a full boat of caveats, which we shall dissect now… Why Your Car Sucks: The fifth-gen Camaro had the benefit of being canceled, but (unlike the Challenger) not for so long that it lost its fan base. The Mustang had the unfortunate task of carrying the “retro-muscle” mantle through the last decade, where the Camaro could jump in halfway through, and the masses would find it fresh, where the Mustang was already becoming a tired design. But would it connect with the previous generations? Yes, and in all the worst ways. Most notably, the interior, which may take visual cues from the 1969 Camaro, but has all the shoddy build quality and poor materials of a 1993 Camaro. The seats are uncomfortable, the interior is more spartan than a Michigan State mascot, and the visibility is downright unsafe.
Actually, my true gripe with the fifth-gen Camaro comes down to two simple elements. The first is the C-pillar, which is the bodywork between the side windows and the rear window. In the interest of clever style, Chevrolet designers made the C-pillar absurdly thick and the upper area of the car exceedingly low. The result is a car with visibility so poor that it is dangerous.
The second terrible thing about the Camaro is found on the convertible model. While many new convertibles and retractable hardtop cars have very intricate systems, by which the top stows neatly away under a cover, the Camaro opts for the horseless-buggy approach. It merely has a top that one must physically cover with a plastic panel. Say what you will about nitpicking, but c’mon– its 2013. We’ve sent a man to the moon, dissected the atom and the first manmade object just left our solar system, but the penny-pinching shrews at General Motors can’t figure out a convertible top that covers itself when stowed? This is why China is beating us, people! North Korean's "Supreme Leader," Kim-Jong-Un probably took one look at the Camaro Convertible’s top and decided now would be the time to call our bluff. Thanks Chevy, you may very well have started World War III.
Why Your Car Rocks:
The Camaro is a great AMERICAN car, which means if you factor out the refinement of European engineering and refinement, you are left with a car that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, have fallen in love with. V8 engine, manual transmission, and rear-wheel drive. That is the key to many-an-enthusiast’s heart. Just as its big-brother Corvette, you’re not going to find anything this fun for the same price.
And that’s just it; for the price, Chevrolet focused on all the right things. There’s a clutch that you can really put a hammering on, a very clicky gearbox and an assortment of engines that offer all the heart-pounding performance of the Camaro’s forbears. It offers all of these things, but with safety features like front and side impact airbags and stability control. It is all the best attributes of classic muscle cars, but with all of the necessary technology of modern vehicles.
There is also the matter of choice. The SS features that excellent naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8, and there is the option of the balls-out ZR1-powered Camaro ZL1. Even the basic Camaro’s 3.6-liter V6 musters up a heck of a lot more power than the entry-level Camaros old.
There’s one last bit. We can thank the Camaro for shaking us of the retro-muscle-car craze, which had lost its luster a long time ago. The 2014 updated Camaro Z/28 is a sight to behold, not just for what it is, but also for what it is not. The newest Camaro has finally adopted a more futurist look, eschewing the one-foot-in-each-generation styling of the 2009-2013 Camaro. For that alone, we can be thankful for the Chevrolet Camaro.